ASI 2019 : Christ University, Bangalore
The fifth session of WGGE took place on 21st February 2019 at Christ University in Bangalore as part of the 37th Astronomical Society of India (ASI). 60 to 70 participants took part in the session. The current Chair of the WGGE, Preeti Kharb, started the session by introducing the new members of the WGGE, three of whom were present at the session, and presented the updated gender statistics from the various astronomy Research Institutes for 2018/2019. The continuing gap between the fraction of Ph.D. women students and women faculty members in research institutes was highlighted and how this remains a cause for concern was noted. The need for the continuous monitoring of gender statistics in Institutes and Universities was also stressed. More details on the talk can be found from the link.
The first talk of the session was by Suchetana Chatterjee of Presidency University. She spoke on "Diversity & Inclusion in Physics: Past, Present and the Future", which included gender-related issues like the lack of recognition of female scientists when it came to awards like the Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar awards, and the detrimental effects of MCQ exams on the selection of women student candidates for PhD interviews. This informative talk was followed by a talk by Paul Ho of the East Asian Observatory, on "Gender Balance on Mauna Kea", where the efforts of the East Asian Observatory astronomers for trying to maintain gender balance at the Mauna Kea Observatories, was highlighted. The final talk was delivered by science journalist, Nandita Jayaraj, of Life-of-Science (thelifeofscience.com). Nandita Jayaraj spoke about "Lab Hopping in the Physical Sciences World". She recounted the experiences of women scientists as told to her and her colleagues, as part of their Life-of-Science endeavour. Following this talk, there was a lively discussion between the speakers and the audience members. It was extremely encouraging to see that the students were particularly engaged in the entire discussion and had valuable suggestions to make for improving the gender equity in astronomy.