Pasadena Recommendations

Equity Now: The Pasadena Recommendations for Gender Equality in Astronomy

This document was endorsed by the American Astronomical Society (AAS) Council on Sunday January 9, 2005, in San Diego, CA. This work is a collaborative effort made by many attendees of the Women in Astronomy II: Ten Years After meeting held in June 2003 in Pasadena with input and comments from the entire astronomical community. This document was presented to the members of the AAS Council by the 2003-2005 committee members of the AAS Committee on the Status of Women in Astronomy. 

Guiding Principles

  • Women and men are equally talented and deserve equal opportunity.
  • Full participation of men and women will maximize excellence in the field.
  • The measure of equal opportunity is outcome, i.e., gender equity will have been attained when the percentage of women in the next level of advancement equals the percentage in the pool.
  • Long-term change requires periodic evaluation of progress and consequent action to address areas where improvement is necessary.


In 1972, the AAS established a working group on the status of women in astronomy, and followed in 1978 with the formation of an ad hoc committee on the status of women. The principle recommendation of the latter group was the appointment of a standing Committee on the Status of Women. This Committee on the Status of Women was established in June 1979, to monitor the status of women in the field of astronomy and to recommend changes to improve it. In 1992, a seminal meeting on Women in Astronomy was held in Baltimore, Maryland. This conference led to the Baltimore Charter for Women in Astronomy, which offered a rationale for and steps toward gender equity in astronomy. The Baltimore Charter was based on input from the astronomical community, and the American Astronomical Society endorsed its goals in January 1994. In the ensuing decade many institutions recognized that there are impediments to the success of women in science and have developed strategies to increase diversity. The Committee is encouraged by the progress that has been made but recognizes that major inequalities still exist. Consequently, a second meeting on Women in Astronomy was held in Pasadena, California, in June 2003. Participants assessed the progress for women in science, offered insights into causes of the slower advancement of women, and discussed strategies to accelerate the achievement of equality.

Approximately one fourth of professional astronomers are women, and the field continues to attract women and benefit from their participation. However, the data show that women are still less likely to advance than their male colleagues. Future progress toward parity demands that the field evaluate itself periodically and implement changes based on the latest demographic data and the most successful solutions. Therefore, the Committee, with input from both the Pasadena meeting participants and the larger community, offers a new set of recommendations for progress. These recommendations emphasize the academic sector because of its unique influence on the future of the field. The Committee understands, however, that these problems are not limited to either academia or astronomy and calls on all scientists to work together toward equality. Finally, the Committee advocates that the strategies developed for the sake of encouraging gender equality be adapted to address the even slower advancement of minority scientists.

This document continues astronomy's proud tradition of community attention to women's issues and the formation of a consensus set of recommendations. Without continued positive action, progress toward diversity could halt or even reverse. Together, astronomers can improve the diversity of the community, draw on a broader talent pool, and thus remove impediments to achieving excellence in science.

Major Areas of Concern and Subsequent Recommendations

The following are specific areas of concern and possible recommendations to help improve gender equality in these areas through various methods. The individual areas include: A. Tenure-Track Hiring, B. Career Advancement and Recognition, C. Institutional Policies, D. Varied Career Paths, E. Cultural Issues, and F. Statistical Information.