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The IAU XXIX General Assembly
Women in Astronomy Meeting Event

Thanks to this year's special overlap between the IAU XXIX General Assembly and the spring meeting of the American Astronomical Society, the IAU Women in Astronomy Working Group and the AAS Committee on the Status of Women in Astronomy coordinated their actions and managed to offer an ambitious programme of events.


The Women in Astronomy Luncheon

Thanks to the generous support from the US National Academy of Science and the IAU, the Women in Astronomy luncheon was held on Tuesday 4 August 2015 at the Hawaii Convention Center, from 12.30pm until 2.00pm. All IAU delegates were invited, but needed to register in advance. More than 200 people (10% male) attended the event, using up almost the entire capacity of the room (225 persons).

The programme included three short keynote speeches, followed by lively table discussions. The event was opened by the welcome address of the AAS President Meg Urry, followed by IAU past-President Bob Williams and his views on quotas. The closing remarks were given by IAU President-Elect Silvia Torres-Peimbert, who noted that despite the continue increase in number of IAU members, the percentage of female astronomers stalls around 16%.

For the table discussions, each table was provided with 3 possible conversation starters, that covered a broad range of topics: from common themes such as work-life balance, family issues, mentoring, unconscious bias to more specific issues like micro-aggressions, impostor syndrome, necessary skills to succeed, how to deal with stress, what is an ally, minority groups. The quantity and quality of the notes were both impressive. The largest amount of feedback was received on the topic of unconscious bias, closely followed by work-life balance, required set of skills to succeed, micro-aggressions, alternative career paths.


The Women in Astronomy Scattered Lunch Talks

In order to increase its visibility during the entire GA, the WG OC organized for the first time a series of three lunch talks on social/behavioural/cultural aspects that affect all astronomers.

Scattered Lunch Talk #1
The CSWA Survey on Workplace Climate
presenter: Christina Richey, NASA HQ and SDSE
Friday 7 August, 12:30­‐2:00 pm
Room 318A
Please bring lunch with you.

Scattered Lunch Talk #2
Inclusive Astronomy 2015
presenter: Meredith Hughes, Wesleyan University
Monday 10 August, 12:30-2:00 pm
Room 318A
Please bring lunch with you.

Scattered Lunch Talk #3
Unconscious Bias
presenter: Patricia Knezek, National Science Foundation
Thursday 13 August, 12:30­‐2:00 pm
Room 318B
Please bring lunch with you.

The series was undoubtedly a success. All three talks attracted 70-80 people. More than the number of attendees, the discussions that took place during and after the talks were very engaging and demonstrated the need for discussing openly these issues. The first talk was given by Christina Richey (CSWA) and touched upon different climatic aspects in the workplace, presenting preliminary results from the recent survey carried out by the committee CSWA. The survey highlighted several discriminatory issues (micro-aggressions) that are not acceptable and usually impact negatively the life (professional and private) of astronomers, especially the younger ones. The second talk was given by Meredith Hughes and was a report from the first Inclusive Astronomy meeting, held at Vanderbilt University in June 2015 and of which she was one of the organizers. Meredith presented a few highlights from the main sessions at the meeting plus a preliminary set of recommendations (More info can be found on the website of the conference.) The third and last talk was given by Pat Knezek focusing on unconscious bias (what it is, what/whom affects, how to raise awareness).


IAU XXIX General Assembly Early Career Events

Within the IAU XXIX General Assembly Early Career Events, we also organized the following events:

The Student Welcome Reception
Tuesday 4 August, 5:00 – 7:00 pm
The Student Pavilion

Meet the Mentor Events From Wednesday 5 August to Wednesday 12 August
10:00 am, 2:00 pm (2 sessions per day)
The Student Pavillion
More details about these events can be found in the WiA Mentor Events flyer.

The Student Welcome Reception generously sponsored by the AAS kicked-off the mentoring programme on Tuesday afternoon, August 4. On the following 6 GA days, we organized two mentoring sessions per day, one in the morning and one in the afternoon, each covered by two senior mentors (24 mentors in total got involved). Feedback has been very positive. In terms of numbers, we reached approximately 80 students, a 50% increase with respect to the number of students who participated in the previous event held at the IAU-GA in Beijing. The topics covered during the sessions were several: mentors were asked up front to express their preferences for the topics to be discussed so that students and post-docs could sign-up for the corresponding slot. Each session started with a short bio from the mentor, after which the participants were free to ask questions.


For more details, please contact
IAU WIA Chair, Francesca Primas: fprimas@eso.org
AAS CSWA Member, Christina Richey: christina.r.richey@nasa.gov


Return to IAU XXIX GA home
or the IAU Working Group on Women in Astronomy

© Swinburne Copyright and disclaimer information
Maintained by: Sarah Maddison (smaddison@swin.edu.au)
Authorised by: Prof. Karl Glazebrook (kglazebrook@ 15;win.edu.au)
Sunday, 10-Jul-2016 17:17:03 AEST