Monday, March 30, 2015

Women of Color in Academia: A Conference

The following post is from the January 2015 Issue of Status: A Report on Women in Astronomy. The author is Nancy D. Morrison, The University of Toledo, Department of Physics & Astronomy.

In the spring of 2012, the AAS was invited to contribute a supporting document, or “testimony,” in preparation for a conference, Seeking Solutions: Maximizing American Talent by Advancing Women of Color in Academia, which was organized by an ad hoc committee of the National Academies. We were asked: to provide statistics on the education and employment of women of color in astronomy; to describe the barriers and difficulties facing women of color in our profession; and to recommend policies for professional societies and funding agencies.

In response to the invitation, the AAS convened representatives of the CSWA and the CSMA to prepare a document. From the CSMA, the authors were Dara Norman, Jedidah Isler, and Hakeem Oluseyi, who were mainly responsible for the content. The CSWA authors — Caroline Simpson, Laura Trouille, and myself — played mainly a supporting/editorial role. Our document was posted on line before the conference, along with testimonies from 27 other scientific, engineering, and professional societies and federal agencies. It has also been reproduced in the CSMA’s Spectrum newsletter and most recently on the Women in Astronomy Blog. The conference was held on June 7–8, 2012, in Washington, DC.

Afterwards, I wondered about the outcome of the conference. The rewarding experience of working on the document whetted my appetite to learn more. Indeed a report has been published, including the 28 society testimonials and two commissioned research articles as well as a summary of the conference itself.  The report and the rich array of reference materials on the conference web site are a great starting point for learning about women of color in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). In this article, I’ll summarize the research reports that were commissioned in preparation for the conference and then the conference report itself.

Read the full article in Status: http://www.aas.org/cswa/status/Status2015_Jan_s.pdf