Executive Committee WG Women in Astronomy

Women in Astronomy: News

October 12th, 2021: Women in Astronomy Seminar Series Announcement

September 30th, 2021: Message from the chair and the co-chair of the WiA Working Group (WG)

Dear Women in Astronomy Working Group members

Welcome to the IAU Women in Astronomy Working Group!

After the successful IAU XXXI, 2021 General Assembly virtual meeting held in the last week of August 2021, (Mamta Pommier- Chair) and Priya Hasan (Co-Chair) warmly welcome you to the Women in Astronomy Working Group of the IAU. We are thankful to Dara Norman (Chair), Lydia Sonia Cidale (Co Chair), Francesca Primas (Advisor), and Daniela Lazzaro (Executive Committee Liaison) for their excellent efforts and support for this working group in the last triennium. We would also like to thank the outgoing committee (OC) members- Lydia Sonia Cidale, Thomas J. Millar, Karen Pollard, Francesca Primas, Theresa Rank-Lueftinger, Ginevra Trinchieri, Feilu Wang, Patricia Ann Whitelock, for their support and help with organizing the WiA WG activities during the last triennium. We are truly thankful for, Dara’s work as WG chair (current Advisor) and for all the reports, documents, and presentations she has circulated among us and Daniela’s insightful advice, as to the EC Liaison (on-going), during the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic phase. We will continue to provide such updated documents, news, and reports to the WG members.

In the next triennium, we will focus on the difficulties (bias, reduced career prospects, leaky pipeline and lacking role models, childcare issues, harassment, discrimination, unfair working conditions) faced by Women in Astronomy, help bridge the gender gap in Astronomy and STEM fields, and help the careers of women researchers and young women Ph.D. students worldwide. To achieve these objectives, we are looking forward, to working with the WG Advisor, EC Liaison, Organizing committee members, WG members, and the IAU offices. We will present the WG activities and achievements at the two general assembly meetings due in the next triennium, in Busan, August 2022, and Cape Town, August 2024. We welcome your ideas during these events, in addition to the seminars, workshops, surveys, training programs that we aim to organize. Please do not hesitate to contact us with your queries or suggestions.

Finally, I am honored to serve as the Chair of this WG and looking forward to working with all of you and the IAU members with dynamism and team spirit. As open communication is important to develop close collaboration in any large geographically distributed WG such as ours hence, we have come up with the IAU-WiA monthly newsletter and ‘ENSEMBLE’ quarterly magazine along with other communication channels that you will find on the homepage.

We especially draw your attention to the ‘call for participation’ announced in this webpage to foster the exchange of ideas and expertise within the WG and develop activities together for the next triennium.

We wish you all the best in your work and looking forward to working with you.

Stay safe and happy reading! 

Mamta Pommier and Priya Hasan

on behalf of the IAU Women in Astronomy WG

March 17th, 2021: IAU joins international collaboration to promote gender equity in STEM

The IAU has become a member of the Standing Committee for Gender Equality in Science (SCGES).  This committee emerged after the publication of the final report of the project, “A Global Approach to the Gender Gap in Mathematical, Computing, and Natural Sciences: How to Measure It, How to Reduce It?”, when several partner participants proposed that the project should be followed up by a more permanent group agreement to promote gender equality in science.

The role of this international standing committee is to strengthen the reach, collaboration and coordination of projects, activities and programs to support gender equity in the STEM fields.  The committee will help partners to promote gender equity within their own organizations, follow the progress made by partners and facilitate communication and collaboration among the partners. 

The first meeting of the group was held (virtually) in Sept 2020 with representatives from the original membership in attendance. 

The initial societies include: Gender in science, innovation, technology and engineering (GenderInSITE), International Union of Pure and Applied Physics (IUPAP ),International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC ), International Union of History and Philosophy of Science and Technology (IUHPST), International Astronomical Union (IAU), International Mathematical Union (IMU), International Union of Biological Sciences (IUBS),  Association for Computing Machinery (ACS) and International Council for Industrial and Applied Mathematics (ICIAM).  The wide range of STEM representation by the membership promises to allow for significant cross-pollination of ideas and opportunity to promote gender equity in science.

Recently, additional members have joined and as of the second virtual meeting held in Feb 2021, the partnership has expanded to 15 members. This strengthened the reach of the committee into the fields of medicine, geophysics and geography. The full list of partners can be found at the SCGES website.

In the coming years, the IAU’s WIA working group will use our membership in this partnership to identify how we can collaborate to expand and strengthen promotion of gender equity in the whole of the astronomy enterprise, which includes research, instrument building, technical and engineering support and data science. We will also promote recommendations of the partnership, for example this statement issued on UN Human Rights Day, regarding the career concerns of women scientists with respect to  Covid-19 (see https://gender-equality-in-science.org/2020/12/02/standing-for-gender-equality-in-science-in-times-of-covid-19/ .

The SCGES is an opportunity to share ideas, good practices and lessons learned with other societies and groups interested in gender equity in the STEM fields.  The WIA plans to make the “Gender Gap in Science Project” report, its findings and recommendations a focal point of the now postponed until 2022, General Assembly meeting in Busan, Korea.

March 9th, 2018: Message from the Working Chair

Women in Astronomy working group welcomes new members;

Encourages thanking a female mentor this March;

Initiates AstroVoices Project for the 100th Anniversary of the International Astronomical Union

My name is Dara Norman and I have been appointed as the new chair of the IAU Women’s Working Group.   Although I am somewhat new to the IAU’s committee structure, I am not new to working on issues of inclusion, diversity, ethics and leadership in Astronomy.  I hope to bring that background to supporting and growing the reach of the IAU Women in Astronomy Working Group. Currently, the working group has an organizing committee of 13 members. I am looking forward to working them and in particular with Lydia Cidale, who has agreed to come on the committee as my co-chair.  You can find more about the committee members on the IAU webpages: https://www.iau.org/science/scientific_bodies/working_groups/122/

We would also like to thank all the outgoing members for their work and especially Francesca Primas for her leadership.

As a way to involve more of the membership in the activities of the working group, last year the IAU Executive Committee opened up membership in the Working Group on Women in Astronomy to all IAU members.  We have had over 170 people express an interest in participating more closely with the working group.  In December, Lydia and I sent a questionnaire to all of those who signed up as members asking about their reasons for joining and interests as participants in the IAU Women’s Working Group.   We received over 80 responses.  The responses were varied and diverse representing specific regional concerns and more general universal challenges for women and other groups in Astronomy.  There is interest in pipeline issues, role modeling, demographic collection and statistics as well as tackling concerns around harassment and bias in subjective career advancement criteria. I am still sorting out how best to harness the expertise and experience of the respondents to tackle the common themes. 

In the near term, and the reason I agree to serve in this role, I would like to make this committee useful to the IAU membership by getting back to addressing some of the key roles expressed as part of the WiA working groups’ original rational. These include identifying and liaising with committees and working groups on women in astronomy around the world and maintaining a list of international women who are willing to be on SOCs, serve on peer review panels, etc , as well as provide lists of potential colloquium/conference speakers.  In the coming weeks, we will be working with the executive committee and broader membership to implement these and other initiatives. 

In this month of March, which includes International Women’s Day, I put forth a challenge to everyone to thank a female mentor or role model in your career (or in your life) who has inspired or helped you personally or professionally. 

Finally, as you may have already seen, the IAU Office has just sent out a message, to call for contributions to the AstroVoices initiative. We are putting together a short film for the 100th Anniversary of the International Astronomical Union that aims at celebrating women astronomers (professionals and students). We count on you to make it a success!

Below, you find a short description of the project, as well as detailed instructions on how to contribute to this initiative with a short video clip (women and girls) or by simply spreading the word (men). We need to receive your clips by March 24.

Feel free to distribute this message to women astronomers in your networks!  

Astro Voices, a short film for IAU 100th Anniversary

This project aims at creating a short film featuring women astronomers from around the world to be released during 2019, IAU 100th Anniversary year, in order to promote the image of astronomers as an exciting career and to stimulate interest for women and girls everywhere.
The film will consist of an edited sequence of short video clips of individual/groups of women saying into the camera "I am (name) from (country), and I am an astronomer!” in the language of their choice. Some improvisation is also fine – slightly different statements could be “Astronomy is my passion” or “I love astronomy” or “I love studying astronomy” or “I am proud to be an astronomer”, but always with the name and country mentioned. In order to combine as many clips as possible, video clips have to be short.

We aim at featuring women from as many countries as possible, and speaking in as many languages as possible. We hope you will be willing to contribute a film clip of yourself!

How to contribute to this initiative

1. Filming your clip 

A video clip can be made on any smart phone. In order to ensure the best quality in the clips and coherency of the compilation, here are some tips:

  • If you are able to adjust the camera settings on your phone, the best setting is 1080p, though lower quality settings will also do.
  • Please hold the phone/camera horizontally (landscape mode) and at eye level. Look directly into the camera and make sure that the subject is well lit and well centred.
  • You can film yourself or have someone else taking the clip. The latter has the advantage to use the camera on the front of your phone (usually of higher quality) rather than the rear “selfie” camera.
  • For editing purposes, please wait a few seconds after having spoken and before you stop filming.
  • Please check the clip for clarity of the sound, and try to avoid filming in a noisy or windy environment.

2. Transmitting your clip

Finished video clips should be transferred to us by March 24, via a Dropbox upload of the clip and via a notification email.

Dropbox upload: To upload your video clip, please follow this link and click on the “Choose files” tab. This action will allow you to select the video clip directly from the Photos/Videos collection on your phone or from your computer. Once you have selected the clip file, please specify also your first and last name, as well your email address before hitting the ‘Upload’ button. Your credentials will help us associating uploaded clips with the proper author names (in case we need to contact you) and it will allow you to receive an acknowledgment message about your upload.

No personal Dropbox account is needed in order to upload your clip. Please avoid sending us your video clips as email attachments from a mobile phone or as WhatsApp Videos as these undergo massive compression in size, downgrading the quality of the clips.

Notification email: Every upload shall be accompanied by a notification message stating:

"I, Name Lastname, give my consent to have my video clip edited and used in the short film, 'Astro Voices' to be released on social media and through the IAU Women in Astronomy email lists, in celebration of the 100th Anniversary of the International Astronomical Union. "
Without this consent, we will not be able to include your video clip.

Past Meetings:

  • XXXth IAU GA: WG Women in Astronomy Business Meeting (Mon, 27 Aug, 10h30–12h00 and 13h30–15h00)

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