BAA/AAVSO Day 2: Women & Men

Earlier today I was talking with Rebecca Turner, another alumni of Slacker Astronomy and a staff member of the AAVSO. She and I are about the same age and often have our hair dyed the same random shades of red (I’ve let myself go to a boring auburn this semester). Looking around the room of predominately gray-haired men, I asked her (because she has this info), “Um, how many women are here?” 11 out of the 93 attendees are women. “Um, are we the youngest?” I asked. Initial answer was yes. Final answer was there is one other woman here who is our age, and then there is a significant gap of perhaps as much as 10 years or more between the three of us and everyone else.

Now, I know there are young people who do astronomy. I get lots of email from younger people. I know there are women in astronomy. I get emails from them as well.

What I don’t know is why they aren’t here.

Do you know? Those of you reading from home who love astronomy, why have you chosen not to join an astronomy club? You don’t have to have a telescope. Really. Two eyes, a brain, and a heart are all that are needed to fall in love with the sky.

What do I need to do to get you out of your chair at home and sitting at a professional-amateur astronomy meeting somewhere in the world beside me?

Anyone interested in joining the AAVSO, my personal favorite professional-amateur club (which really is international despite its name), should check out their website. I’d love to see you at their meeting in my hometown of Boston, MA next fall.


  1. Stephen Uitti
    Apr 17, 2008

    Over the past two years, i’ve been gratified to see that several women have joined our astronomy club. When there aren’t any, it’s very hard to attract any. We may now have the critical mass needed to get some kind of reasonable representation.

    Spouses show up for our annual dinner, but seldom show for meetings. This is now starting to be true for women members with spouses. If it’s not your thing, it’s not your thing.

    We’ve done lots with scouting programs. Our outreach to high schools is just starting to generate interest in a younger crowd. We’ve a long way to go there… One of the guys i thought was younger is over 65. He dies his hair.

  2. Martin Nicholson
    Jul 7, 2008

    I was a speaker on day 1 of this meeting.

    [Edited: by Pamela in a due to inability to substantiate some issues in a controversy]

  3. John Greaves
    Oct 19, 2008

    [Edited by Pamela after resolving issue hopefully]

    re Women and Men and mentoring, well, see this :-

    Without prejudice

    John Greaves

    PS re young and/or female amateur astronomers. It’s a financial demographic sort of hobby, ya know, should be obvious really.

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