Women in Canadian Astronomy: The Next Five Years

Brenda C. Matthews and Michael A. Reid



We are currently preparing, in co-ordination with the CASCA Board, a follow-up survey to our "Ten-Year Survey of Women in Canadian Astronomy", executed in 2001 and covering the period from 1991-2000. The results of the original survey were reported in the March Equinox edition of Cassiopeia (http://www.casca.ca/ecass/issues/2004-me/content_fs.html), the bi-annual newsletter of the AAS Committee on the Status of Women in Astronomy, STATUS, and at the 2003 Women in Astronomy meeting in Pasadena, CA. The results of the Ten-Year Survey showed that women are significantly underrepresented at all levels of Canadian astronomy. While the fractional representation of women in undergraduate and graduate programs has risen in recent years (to the lofty level of 17% for graduate students and postdocs), the fraction of women at the faculty level is still very low. In our 1991-2000 survey, there were NO female astronomers at the level of full professor in Canada, and between 1996-2000, only 6% of astronomers at any faculty level were women. Canada therefore lags significantly behind the US levels in representation of women based on the 2003 CSWA survey (representing over 1600 PhD astronomers), in which 15 3% of assistant professors, 203% of associate professors and 91% of full professors were women (http://www.aas.org/cswa/status/STATUS_Jun04sm.pdf).
There is urgent need for the information our latest survey will provide. Information about the demographics of the Canadian astronomy community (including the representation of women) and how they are affected by the LRP funding has been requested by members of government from the Coalition for Canadian Astronomy. There are no up-to-date statistics other than the census done in 2005 by the Graduate Student Committee of CASCA on the current makeup of the graduate population in Canada.
Our new survey will be distributed early in 2006 and cover the years of 2001-2005. This will be the last multi-year survey. The new survey will be done online with subsequent surveys conducted annually for the ease of department chairs. This method will also mean statistics will be as current as possible. There will be a few changes from the original version, particularly the reporting of the number of students entering graduate programs as well as those who completed degrees. Over time, this will yield information about attrition rates within graduate programs.
We hope the results of the survey will be available for presentation at the AAS and CASCA meetings in Calgary this coming spring.



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On 20 Dec 2005, 20:41.