She is an Astronomer conference

Celebrating success and seeking solutions

Date: 22 and 23 April 2010
Venue: Royal Astronomical Society
Burlington House, Piccadilly, London


A conference was held to celebrate the ending of the IYA2009 Cornerstone Project 'She is an Astronomer'.

The conference was opened by Prof Jocelyn Bell Burnell. There were talks by female scientists on their work and careers, and presentations on gender issues, work-life balance, careers, mentoring, psychology/culture, statistics. One outcome of the meeting will be a list of suggestions for supporting and encouraging women in astronomy in support of the IAU Resolution passed at the IAU General Assembly in August 2009. Presentations and posters have been made available. The meeting was affected by the flight restrictions arising from the volcanic ash, and so speakers who were unable to attend have been invited to send in their presentations so they can be put on the website.

Helen Walker
Co-Chair of She is an Astronomer
Chair of Organising Committee
Programme (final, revised and updated)
Jocelyn Bell Burnell       (UK)            Opening address - She is an Astronomer
Anais Rassat                  (France)     Work-life balance
Danielle Alloin                (France)     Correcting gender myopia: Women astronomers in Europe
Magda Stavinschi          (Romania) She is an Astronomer in Romania
Katherine Hollinshead (UK)            Career destinations of STFC funded PhD students
Jennifer Woolley            (UK)            The Daphne Jackson Trust: Our Fellows are the real stars
Sarah Bridle                   (UK)             Research and Career
Ruth Wilson                    (UK)            UK Resource Centre and IYA2009
Alice Sheppard              (UK)             Democracy in Astronomy
Mona Evans                    (UK)            William and Caroline Herschel: Partners in Exploration
Sotira Trifourki                (UK)            Cosmic Diary, 100 Hours of Astronomy, Galilean Nights, What Next?
Pedro Russo                  (Germany) IYA2009 and IYA Legacy
Jan West                         (UK)            Mentoring and MentorSET
Vladimir Strelnitski        (USA)         Keeping the Legacy of Maria Mitchell and Dorrit Hoffleit (plus notes)
Ginevra Trinchieri          (Italy)          She is an Astronomer in Italy
Jane Greaves                 (UK)           Research and Career
Helen Walker                  (UK)           Celebrating success and solutions found
Extra contributions
Montse Villar Martin       (Spain)      She is an Astronomer in Spain: Past, present and future
Isabel Marquez              (Spain)       Women in Spanish Astronomy: A sociological analysis
Doina Ionescu               (Romania) Hypatia of Alexandria
Pat Knezek/Rachel Ivie (USA)         Towards understanding the careers of astronomers - The AAS longitudinal study
Mimoza Hafizi                 (Albania)   To be a unique astronomer in a country
Irina Voloshina               (Russia)   Contribution of Women Astronomers at Sternberg Astronomical Institute
Helen Walker                  (UK)          Women in Astronomy Statistics
Eva Juette                      (Germany) Mentoring at RUB

IAU Resolution to support women in Astronomy passed at XXVII General Assembly


helen_iauThe Chair of the ‘She is An Astronomer’ Task Group, Dr Helen Walker, from STFC’s Rutherford Appleton Laboratory (RAL), successfully presented RESOLUTION B4, On Supporting Women in Astronomy to the International Astronomical Union (IAU) General Assembly in Brazil on 13th August.


In her speech to the Assembly, Dr Walker said,  "Let us assume, no, let us assert that women are as capable as men of doing science, and that women do good science too.  In an ideal world the mix of men and women doing astronomy would be 50-50.


 "If we look at this General Assembly, there are a lot of women present, and yet... I have the numbers from the National Organising Committee - 667 out of 2109 participants are women - 31.6%. Were 30% of the speakers women in the sessions you attended? 30% of the invited speakers? 30% of the session chairs?


"The IAU itself does less well - in 2003, 12.1% of all IAU members were women. This rose to 12.9% in 2006, and now in 2009 it stands at 13.6% - around a 0.7% increase per triennium.


"So, what to do? There has been no previous resolution concerning support for women in astronomy. The IAU has passed non-target-specific resolutions before, for example the Washington Charter on communicating astronomy to the public, and education-related resolutions. We know one size does not fit everyone - each individual IAU member and each National Representative knows their community and where their effort should be best focussed - school, university, early-career, late-career - where support and encouragement is most needed in their community.


"We need more astronomers. We need good astronomers. The IAU strategic plan for example will need a lot astronomers. Science is advanced by having the largest possible pool of astronomers, and we are currently fishing in a pool with too few - a significant fraction is missing, so let us increase the pool. Please support Resolution B4 and support them."


STFC press release "STFC Scientist Champions the role of Women in Astronomy"