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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 Many institutions have policies that are limited in scope or outdated.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.

Recommendations:

  1. 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).
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
Follow-up Suggestions for Implementation:
Other Resources:
Maternity Leave in Australia