Education: July 2016 Archives

Inclusive Astronomy

American Astronomical Society Endorses Vision Statement for Inclusive Astronomy, AAS

"We believe that people of all races, genders, sexual orientations, and physical abilities are capable of doing excellent science and shaping the future of our discipline. We know that identity is intersectional, and we see connections among barriers facing communities of color, women, people with disabilities, and LGBTIQA* people in science. We believe in equal opportunity. We share a vision of a more inclusive, more productive profession. We know that true inclusion and diversity require hard work from individual astronomers, organizations, and our profession as a whole to re-examine our professional culture, modify our existing practices, and remove barriers to inclusion. We assert that progress can and should be measured, and should be pursued with the same zeal as other strategic scientific goals. We have faith that we all -- as colleagues and as a profession -- can learn and improve."

Keith's note: A few moments ago at the NASA Advisory Council meeting Dava Newman was just gushing about a "Mission STEM" conference they are holding in Washington DC on 8-9 August with "hundreds of attendees" and partnerships with other agencies. Yet there is no mention of this event at NASA's calendar, NASA's Education webpage or even at If you look at the weekly NASA Education Express Message -- July 28, 2016 from NASA's Education Office you will see no mention of this event either. How are people outside of NASA's little bubble supposed to know about these things?

Just watch. Now the secret about this stealthy event is out - little more than a week from today. Details will be grudgingly made public. You will see that this is an invitation-only event, closed to news media, and not streamed online. In other words NASA's avowed intention of seeking external input about how to improve its education programs is not something that they intend to share with the rest of us. Think of the vast national audience they could have when coupled with NASA's immense social media, website, and television reach. But no. Instead, its just more closed openness.

Meet NASA Datanauts: 2016 Class, OpenNASA

"In 2014, the Open Innovation team noticed a disparity in the ratio of International Space Apps Challenge participants -- roughly 80% men to 20% women. We embarked on a quest to better understand how to attract more women and girls to data by conducting a year-long study, which included a literature review followed by dozens of interviews with leading women's organizations in the data, tech, and startup communities. ... Based on what we learned, we created two new initiatives to signal a welcome environment for women: Space Apps Data Bootcamp, as a one-day pre-event to get introduced to data and code before the annual hackathon; and NASA Datanauts, as a year-old engagement to learn and practice data science skills. The all-female 2015 Founding Class of Datanauts, served two important functions -- to signal NASA is a welcome environment, and to help us understand their communities and how to design data engagements that attract more women and newcomers to NASA data and the new field of data science."

Keith's 12 July note: I totally get the issues that the NASA CIO's Open Innovation Team recognized and heartily applaud their decision to address them. But what I simply do not understand how they can discriminate on the basis of gender so as to only allow females to participate in the 2015 Founding Class of Datanauts. Males apparently were not offered an equal opportunity to participate in this government program. I am sure we all know that a lot of the issues facing women being studied by NASA CIO are faced by males too. I am certain that there are hundreds of rules and laws that are supposed to prevent such blatant discrimination. To be clear the new class (2016) has males in it but a quick unscientific survey of first names and pronouns makes it look like only 6 out of 49 are males. I am sure I counted/guessed wrong. I have sent an email to Beth Beck and NASA CIO Renee Wynn asking "Can you please explain to me how NASA, a government agency, could legally discriminiate against males in the selection of its "all-female 2015 Founding Class of Datanauts"?". The NASA CIO office never responds to media inquiries - so I do not expect them to start responding now.

Keith's 13 July update: I just got the following from Karen Northon at NASA PAO. She recycled/rewrote stuff from the Open NASA website, but never answered my question. Specifically, she took the title of my post and said "NASA does not endorse or oppose gender bias, but rather works to open doors to all newcomers to data science." Huh? They are saying that the agency has no position for- or against gender bias? Really? What set of government regulations is NASA following? So I asked again "Your first group of datanauts in 2015 was 100% female - your webpage makes pointed, overt mention of that fact. How is it legal for NASA, a federal government agency, to deliberately limit participation in a government-funded educational activity to members of only one gender?"

NASA PAO's full response:



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This page is an archive of entries in the Education category from July 2016.

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