C. Institutional Policies
Institutions have a responsibility to change the face of our
profession, by developing and implementing policies that are friendly
to women and that ensure equal access to all benefits and opportunities
that will help them advance in their careers. Many institutions have
policies that are limited in scope or outdated. This is particularly
important in view of the "tidal wave" of young women currently at the
entry level in astronomy; note that more than 50% of AAS members 18-23
years of age are women, but the fraction of women decreases
systematically at later career stages. Consistent policies that are
supportive of diversity, among institutions that grant degrees in
astronomy or employ astronomers, play a critical role in "leveling the
playing field" for women astronomers.
Follow-up Suggestions for Implementation:
- All institutions should establish and promote strong policies and
training in the areas of sexual harassment and general ethics, including
clear complaint paths and accountability, taking care that these
policies apply both to permanent employees and to short-term visitors
(e.g., students and visiting observers).
- Institutions should endorse and implement the Statement on
Gender Equity in Academic Science and Engineering signed by the
presidents of MIT, Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Penn, Michigan, Stanford,
Berkeley, and Caltech in January 2001. The AAS should maintain a public
list of institutions and organizations that endorse this Statement.
- Members of the departments granting degrees in astronomy or
employing astronomers should work proactively with their institutions
to establish policies that allow all department members access to
affordable health and childcare. This access should not be
reserved only for faculty, but be extended to graduate students, post
docs, research and administrative staff as well.
- All job applicants should be made aware of institutional policies and
benefits e.g., health care, childcare, leave policies,
spousal/partner hire policies, spousal/partner job search assistance,
and retirement) provided at all levels.
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