The Status of STATUS
By Meg Urry and Lisa Frattare
STATUS was started in 1985 by Sue Simkin,
then chair of the Committee on the Status
of Women in Astronomy (CSWA), and was
edited most recently by Kathy Mead. As the official
newsletter of the CSWA, STATUS has provided
a forum for the topic of women in astronomy,
and has reached a broad audience
through direct mail and distribution at
national AAS meetings.
This issue marks our debut as editors
of STATUS. We took on this
assignment with two very specific goals:
- To investigate the status of
women in astronomy. Few of us know
the statistics, either for our field alone
(there are few data) or for closely related
fields, and it must be an evolving
story. Do women have a harder (or easier)
time advancing in the profession?
Are there parallels to other fields? We
will explore the data for astronomy
and the physical sciences at all levels of
interest to professional astronomers.
- To explore possible barriers to
the progress of women in astronomy, and what
can be done about them. For example, women
can be affected disproportionately by concerns
about physical safety and sexual harassment.
Their progress may be slowed by micro-disadvantages
relative to their male peers (a sort of“1% discount” cumulative effect) or by lesser
access to mentoring and networking. We will
include many relevant studies inside and outside
the physical sciences.
The CSWA already has a very active and
important electronic forum, AASWOMEN,
which needs neither duplication nor
replacement. Rather, we aim to be the“review paper” complementing the dialog
of AASWOMEN, with statistical
studies, topical interviews, illustrative
anecdotes, and guest columns. We further
aim for balance, comprehensiveness, and
relevance. By distributing STATUS widely
at each AAS meeting, we hope to reach a
larger, broader audience than those who
already follow CSWA issues.
We welcome your contributions either
in area (1) or (2), as well as suggestions
or criticisms. Because we publish only
twice per year, letters might better be
directed to AASWOMEN, but all submitted
material will be considered for publication.
We request that all submissions be
signed, however, some contributions may be
published anonymously, as appropriate, to preserve
the privacy of those involved.
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