Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Astronomy and geophysics bring women into science, UK study shows

Date:
October 6, 2011
Source:
Royal Astronomical Society (RAS)
Summary:
Women are better represented in astronomy and solid-Earth geophysics research than in other areas of physics, according to a major study. Researchers collected data on more than 2000 research employees and students in astronomy and solid-Earth geophysics in the UK to establish the composition of this community and better understand its work. Less encouragingly, the survey results show how these research areas are poor at recruiting people from black and minority ethnic (BME) groups and that addressing this deficit remains a significant challenge.

Women are better represented in astronomy and solid-Earth geophysics research than in other areas of physics, according to a major study by the Royal Astronomical Society, with a summary published in the October edition of the journal Astronomy and Geophysics. The RAS Demographic Survey of Astronomy and Geophysics collected data on more than 2000 research employees and students in astronomy and solid-Earth geophysics in the UK to establish the composition of this community and better understand its work. Less encouragingly, the survey results show how these research areas are poor at recruiting people from black and minority ethnic (BME) groups and that addressing this deficit remains a significant challenge.

The last comparable exercise took place in 1998 and at that time covered a slightly smaller community. This time the RAS commissioned Sean McWhinnie of Oxford Research and Policy to carry out the work, gathering data using both online questionnaires and internet research of departmental websites. The survey was carried out in the autumn of 2010 and spring of 2011.

Back in 1998, just 7% of permanent appointments in astronomy (solid-Earth geophysics was not included on the same basis) and 22% of PhD students were women. According to the new survey, these proportions have shifted significantly. Women now make up around a third of PhD students, 27% of postdoctoral researchers in astronomy, 30% of postdocs in solar system science and 30% of the same in solid-Earth geophysics. 28% of lecturers in astronomy, 37% of those in solar system science and 34% of those in geophysics are women. At a more senior level the numbers are lower, with women making up 7% of astronomy professors, 11% of those in solar system science and 8% of those in solid-Earth geophysics.

For the first time, the Survey asked individuals for information on their ethnicity and nationality. 95% of all respondents and 97% of those from the UK indicated their ethnicity to be white, compared with the 92.1% of the UK population recorded as white in the 2001 census. The results therefore indicate that members of BME groups are significantly underrepresented in astronomy, solar system science and solid-Earth geophysics.

Other findings from the Demographic Survey include:

• Since 1998 there has been a shift in research effort from X-ray (the proportion of time spent on this fell from 20% to 10%) to infrared astronomy (up from 17% to 24% in the same period).

• UK astronomers and geophysicists use more than 200 facilities around the world, both where these are directly supported by the UK and where access is gained through involvement in international teams. These include ground- and space-based observatories of all kinds and geophysics research ships.

• There has been a significant increase in the number of professors of astronomy and geophysics compared with other disciplines. 47% of permanent academic staff in astronomy hold professorships, 39% in solar system science and 47% in solid-Earth geophysics, compared with 16% of permanent staff in university research as a whole.

• In the last 12 years the number of technical staff employed in astronomy and solar system science appears to have dropped precipitously, declining from a total of 456 in 1998 to 136 in 2010

The Demographics and Research Interests of the UK Astronomy and Geophysics Communities


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Royal Astronomical Society (RAS). Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Royal Astronomical Society (RAS). "Astronomy and geophysics bring women into science, UK study shows." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 6 October 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/10/111006084244.htm>.
Royal Astronomical Society (RAS). (2011, October 6). Astronomy and geophysics bring women into science, UK study shows. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 25, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/10/111006084244.htm
Royal Astronomical Society (RAS). "Astronomy and geophysics bring women into science, UK study shows." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/10/111006084244.htm (accessed April 25, 2014).

Share This



More Earth & Climate News

Friday, April 25, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Deadly Fungus Killing Bats, Spreading in US

Deadly Fungus Killing Bats, Spreading in US

AP (Apr. 24, 2014) A disease that has killed more than six million cave-dwelling bats in the United States is on the move and wildlife biologists are worried. White Nose Syndrome, discovered in New York in 2006, has now spread to 25 states. (April 24) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
New Pictures of Ship That Sank in 1888

New Pictures of Ship That Sank in 1888

AP (Apr. 24, 2014) Federal researchers have released new images of the City of Chester, a steamship that sank in San Francisco Bay in 1888. Researchers recently found the shipwreck while mapping shipping routes. (April 24) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Risk of Asteroid Hitting Earth Higher Than Thought, Study Shows

Risk of Asteroid Hitting Earth Higher Than Thought, Study Shows

Reuters - US Online Video (Apr. 23, 2014) A group of space explorers say the chance of a city-obliterating asteroid striking Earth is higher than scientists previously believed. Deborah Gembara reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
UN Joint Mission Starts Removing Landmines in Cyprus

UN Joint Mission Starts Removing Landmines in Cyprus

AFP (Apr. 23, 2014) The UN mission in Cyprus (UNFICYP) led a mine clearance demonstration on Wednesday in the UN-controlled buffer zone where demining operations are being conducted near the Cypriot village of Mammari. Duration: 01:00 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins