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HUMANITIES SCIENCE POLITICS

Science, People & Politics ISSN 1751-598X

EDITORIAL | 4

WOMEN IN ASTRONOMY

Throughout science there are gender disparities. That is clear from the number of women who
are Fellows (or Foreign Fellows) of the Royal Society. But clearly women are competent. See
p20 of this issue for a sense of what women in science have done during the last quarter (26th
November 2016 to 24th February 2017), from stepping down as a patron after 64 years from
the Royal Institution, to winning grants, writing blogs as director of the US National Science
Foundation, and taking over important industry-based administrative and leadership roles.

What can account for women astronomers being significantly less likely to be allocated observ
ing time at The European Southern Observatory (ESO), which is an issue brought to the
attention of this magazine by one of its editorial advisors, Dr Ferdinando Patat, from ESO?

For the answer science, I think, must call on the skill and research tools of sociology. Sociology
systematically interrogates societies, its subsectors, and its structures, nationally and trans-
nationally. There is a specific field known as the sociology of science. It is time to ask sociolo-
gists to bring their expertise to bear to provide insight into structures and relationships internal
and external to astronomy. Dr Patat's systematics reveal the issue exists. Systematics from
sociology, calling on the plausibility of its knowledge bases, is needed to determine how
observing time at ESO by men and women principal investigators can be more equitable while
maintaining quality. If there is a dearth of women at influential/leadership levels in astronomy,
the field might well be doing itself disservice. HG

Quiz of Issue One

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Issue 1 (Jan-Mar), 2017............................................Science, People & Politics ISSN 1751-598X print and online


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CONTENTS

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Published Friday 24th February, 2017,
nominally.
Completed 9th April, 2017.

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