ASP Diversity Statement
Dear Members, Supporters, and Friends of the ASP,
Over the last 6 months, the astronomy community has been rocked by the revelations of very serious cases of sexual harassment against women at several institutions. Equally disturbing was the discovery that these behaviors had gone essentially unchecked at universities for decades. Serious questions were raised concerning who knew about it, how and why this behavior was tolerated for so long, and whether the profession has the right mechanisms in place to address sexual harassment swiftly and meaningfully.
Horrendous emotional damage has been done to women directly affected by sexual harassment and we have lost scores of female astronomers who left the field because of what they experienced or witnessed. Internationally respected science news outlets such as Nature, The New York Times, and Washington Post have pronounced: “Astronomy’s Snowballing Sexual Harassment Scandal Picks Up Even More Cases,” “Stories Spill Out as Spotlight Is Shined on Sexism in Astronomy,” and “Astronomy Roiled Again By Sexual-Harassment Allegations.” These are hardly headlines that encourage girls and young women to pursue astronomy as a career.
Formal statements have been made by professional societies such as the American Astronomical Society, Royal Astronomical Society, and American Geophysical Union strongly denouncing sexual harassment and re-affirming institutional commitments to create safe and inclusive work and learning environments. ASP now adds its voice to condemn harassment, support victims, and promote a culture of inclusion.
The ASP Board of Directors and ASP Staff has and continues to strongly condemn harassment based on gender, gender identity, sexual preference, race, ethnicity, age, religious beliefs, or disability. We affirm our commitment to diversity, inclusion, and equity and commit ourselves to promoting change through education (See ASP Board of Director’s Statement on Sexual Harassment in Astronomy).
The ASP also announces several proactive initiatives designed to promote equity and inclusion (See Astronomical Society of the Pacific’s Statement On Diversity and Inclusion). More than any other organization, the ASP is uniquely positioned, holds the reputation, and possesses the skills needed to educate the astronomy community. Ending sexual harassment requires a multipronged approach focusing on the beliefs and behavior of individuals, organizations, and systems. We are the trusted organization that the entire astronomy community looks to when it needs the access the very best in educational materials, resources, and training. Through existing ASP programs and initiatives — Astronomy Ambassadors (training young astronomers in education outreach), My Sky Tonight (developing materials for young children), ASP Teacher Learning Center (K-12 teacher professional development) — we can do a great deal to promote equity and inclusion.
On behalf of the ASP Board, Staff and all the astronomy enthusiasts our programs serve, thank you for your continued support of our work. Together we will ensure that the excitement of astronomy is available to all.
Linda Shore, Ed.D