RESOLUTION B4 - On Supporting Women in Astronomy


Proposed by: the EC WG IYA Task Group She is an Astronomer

Supported by: the EC WG Women in Astronomy

The following persons will be available for consultation and, if necessary to speak on the above resolution at the General Assembly on 13 August 2009:
Proposer: Helen J. Walker < This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. >
Seconder: Sarah T. Maddison < This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. >

 

The International Astronomical Union XXVII General Assembly,

recalling

1. the UN Millennium Development Goal 3: promote gender equality and empower women,
2. the IAU/UNESCO International Year of Astronomy 2009 goal 7: improve the gender-balanced representation of scientists at all levels and promote greater involvement by underrepresented minorities in scientific and engineering careers,

recognizing

1. that individual excellence in science and astronomy is independent of gender,
2. that gender equality is a fundamental principle of human rights.

considering

1. the role of the IAU Working Group for Women in Astronomy,
2. the role of the IYA2009 Cornerstone Project She is an Astronomer,

resolves

1. that IAU members should encourage and support the female astronomers in their communities,
2. that IAU members and National Representatives should encourage national organisations to break down barriers and ensure that men and women are given equal opportunities to pursue a successful career in astronomy at all levels and career steps.
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www.iau.org/public_press/news/release/iau0909/

The She Is An Astronomer project seeks to break down misconceptions and gender issues in astronomy and science
 
21 April 2009, Paris: The highly anticipated International Year of Astronomy 2009 Cornerstone project , She Is An Astronomer, was launched today. She Is An Astronomer aims to help achieve several of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals, including promoting gender equality and empowering women.

Gender equality is a priority concern for the whole scientific community, regardless of its field, cultural background or geographic location. This is also the case for astronomy, where only approximately one quarter of all professionals are women. In some countries there are no female astronomers, whilst in others more than half the professional astronomers are female. These numbers drop towards more senior levels, suggesting that scientific careers are heavily affected by social and cultural factors and are not determined solely by ability. The International Year of Astronomy 2009 Cornerstone project, She Is An Astronomer (SIAA), has been established to address these issues and tackle the main problems.

The SIAA programme of activities was announced today during the European Week of Astronomy & Space Science at the University of Hertfordshire, UK. Boasting a mixture of international, national and local events ranging from conferences, meetings and workshops to address gender issues, events targeted at teenagers, and the central SIAA website, the variety is designed to appeal to a wide cross-section of the professional and public communities.

The official SIAA website, www.sheisanastronomer.org, provides a one-stop-shop for gender issues in astronomy and science. The site boasts five sections: profiles of living and historic astronomers; resources for female astronomers; events taking place during IYA2009; an SIAA Ambassadors’ Area; and a forum where issues, lessons and challenges can be discussed, including the opportunity to question experts. The website provides neutral, informative and accessible information and will be used to advertise new events, keeping interested parties at the forefront of developments. Examples of best practices and relevant statistics will be pooled, making them accessible to the wider community. Content will be regularly added during 2009, resulting in a vast depository that will remain online long into the future, acting as an ongoing legacy.

Several of the international and national meetings arranged for 2009 feature a SIAA presence. These include the IAU General Assembly in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, meetings in the US and Egypt, a book launch in Australia, an exhibition in Germany and many local events. Spain is conducting its first ever survey of women in astronomy and has also produced a calendar featuring historic female astronomers.

IYA2009 encourages us to discuss magnificent and complex topics, from black holes to the mysteries of our Sun, but without losing sight of the core human aspects. SIAA will play its part in ensuring that the Year’s impact is definitely felt here on Earth.

Notes
The IAU is the international astronomical organisation that brings together almost 10 000 distinguished astronomers from all nations of the world. Its mission is to promote and safeguard the science of astronomy in all its aspects through international cooperation. The IAU also serves as the internationally recognised authority for assigning designations to celestial bodies and the surface features on them. Founded in 1919, the IAU is the world's largest professional body for astronomers.

Links
She Is An Astronomer website: http://www.sheisanastronomer.org
IYA2009 website: http://www.astronomy2009.org
European Week of Astronomy & Space Science: http://www.jenam2009.eu

For more information
Helen Walker
She Is An Astronomer Project Chair
STFC Rutherford Appleton Laboratory
Space Science and Technology Department, Building R68
Harwell Science and Innovation Campus
Didcot, Oxon, OX11 0QX, UK
Tel.: +44 (0) 1235 446 490
Cell : +44 (0) 7870 977 018
E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Further contacts
Pedro Russo
IAU IYA2009 Coordinator
ESO ePOD, Garching, Germany
Tel: +49 89 320 06 195
Cellular: +49 176 6110 0211
Fax: +49 89 320 23 62
E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Yolanda Berenguer
UNESCO Focal Point for the International Year of Astronomy 2009
UNESCO HQ, Paris
Tel: +33 1 45684171
E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Dr. Karel A. van der Hucht
General Secretary, International Astronomical Union
IAU Secretariat, Paris, France
Tel: +33 1 43 25 83 58
E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
 
Lars Lindberg Christensen
IAU Press Officer
ESO ePOD, Garching, Germany
Tel: +49 89 3200 6761
Cellular: +49 173 3872 621
E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

ROYAL ASTRONOMICAL SOCIETY PRESS INFORMATION NOTE

RAS PN09/39 (NAM26): FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

 

Issued by:

Anita Heward

Press Officer

Royal Astronomical Society

Mob: +44 (0)7756 034 243

E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

And

Dr. Robert Massey

Press and Policy Officer

Royal Astronomical Society

Tel: +44 (0)20 7734 3307 / 4582

Mob: +44 (0)794 124 8035

E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

 

EWASS meeting press room (20th – 23rd April only)

Tel:       +44 (0)1707 285530                   +44 (0)1707 285640
+44 (0)1707 285781                   +44 (0)1707 285587

 

EWASS home page: http://www.jenam2009.eu

EWASS press page: http://www.star.herts.ac.uk/ewass/press

(Username: ewass, Password: astro@uh)

RAS home page: http://www.ras.org.uk

 

 

‘She Is An Astronomer’ Project Launched To Tackle Misconceptions And Gender Issues In Astronomy And Science

 

The number of women reaching senior positions in astronomy is still disproportionately small, despite significant increases in numbers of female undergraduate and postgraduate students in recent years.  To highlight some of the issues facing women during their careers in astronomy, the International Year of Astronomy 2009 has developed a Cornerstone Project, ‘She is an Astronomer’, which will be launched today at the European Week of Astronomy and Space Science at the University of Hertfordshire.

 

“Approximately a quarter of all professional astronomers are women, although there is wide geographical diversity, with some countries having none and other countries having more than 50% female professional astronomers. However, in all countries, these numbers drop towards more senior levels, suggesting that scientific careers are heavily affected by social and cultural factors, and are not determined solely by ability,” said Dr Helen Walker, the Chair of the international ‘She is an Astronomer’ project.

 

A series of UK studies organised by the Royal Astronomical Society has shown that although the number of female astronomy postgraduates had jumped from 5% in 1992 to 35% in 2003, the percentage of professors had increased by only one percent from 2% to 3% in the same period. 

 

“As part of ‘She is an Astronomer’, we are in the process of interviewing women from all over the world at all stages in their careers and everywhere follows the same pattern at the highest levels,” said Dr Walker.  “Although most of the women that we have interviewed have not felt that they have experienced discrimination on a personal level, all report that women are under-represented in their institution, except for one case where an active diversity policy has been pursued.”

 

Lord Drayson, the UK Minister for Science and Innovation who attended the European Week of Science and Technology yesterday, said, “I thoroughly support the ‘She is an Astronomer’ project. We need to ensure there are no limits to the boundaries of space research and that there are opportunities for all working in this exciting field."

 

Through a website and a series of meetings and workshops around the world, ‘She is an Astronomer’ aims to collect and disseminate statistics and information that can be used as quantitative, factual data to back up future discussions on gender equality in astronomy. 'She is an Astronomer' also aims to raise some of the issues that are of common concern to women working in the field and present solutions to tackle them, identifying and sharing best practice techniques.  The website includes profiles women currently working in astronomy and highlights the historical contribution that women have made to expanding our knowledge of the Universe.

 

“This drain of women at higher levels is a waste of resources, not least in terms of the financial investment in their training. It is in the interest of all societies to ensure that the factors hampering women from reaching the top or causing them to leave scientific careers are addressed. I think that the Royal Society of Chemistry’s report on best practice summed this up particularly well: “Both men and women benefit from good practice; however, women in particular are adversely affected by bad practice'”.  We hope that ‘She is an Astronomer’ will be able to spread best practice and we will see real gender equality in the future,” said Dr Walker.

 

The promotion of equality and the empowerment of women is one of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals.

 

FURTHER INFORMATION

 

‘She is an Astronomer’ website: http://www.sheisanastronomer.org

 

NOTES FOR EDITORS

 

International Year of Astronomy

The International Year of Astronomy 2009 (IYA2009) is a global effort initiated by the International Astronomical Union (IAU) and UNESCO to help the citizens of the world rediscover their place in the Universe through the day- and night-time sky, and thereby engage a personal sense of wonder and discovery.  The International Year of Astronomy 2009 is supported by eleven Cornerstone projects, including ‘She is an Astronomer’. These are global programmes of activities centred on specific themes and are some of the projects that will help to achieve IYA2009's main goals.

 

IYA2009 website: http://www.astronomy2009.org

 

The International Astronomical Union

The IAU is the international astronomical organisation that brings together almost 10 000 distinguished astronomers from all nations of the world. Its mission is to promote and safeguard the science of astronomy in all its aspects through international cooperation. The IAU also serves as the internationally recognised authority for assigning designations to celestial bodies and the surface features on them. Founded in 1919, the IAU is the world's largest professional body for astronomers.

 

CONTACTS

 

Helen Walker 

Chair of SIAA International Cornerstone Project

STFC Rutherford Appleton Laboratory

Harwell Science and Innovation Campus 

Didcot 

Oxon 

OX11 0QX 

UK 

Tel: +44 (0) 1235 446 490  

E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

 

 

 

Press


She is an Astronomer Launches Web Forum

SIAA press release

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

Resolution B4, On supporting women in astronomy

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

 

She is an Astronomer International Launch

'She is an Astronomer' was launched on Tuesday 21st April at the European Week of Astronomy and Space Science at the University of Hertfordshire.

 

EWASS press release

International Astronomical Union press release

 

Images

she_is_an_astronomer_small

Image credit: Naveen Nanjundappa/Bangalore Astronomical Society

 

siaa2

 

 

updated_women_astronomers_small

Women astronomers with EADS Astrium's ExoMars prototype rover, Bridget.

Credit: She is an Astronomer