27 January 2014

2013 AAS Biennial Demographics Survey Released

Marc Postman STScI

The AAS Demographics Committee is charged with identifying, collecting, and disseminating demographic data about the AAS membership to aid the Society in best serving the needs of our community. Toward this end, in late 2011 the AAS Council tasked the committee to design and execute a biennial survey to measure and track systematic changes in the composition, backgrounds, and job histories of AAS members, in what types of work they do, and in what the perceived hurdles are in working in astronomy and related fields.

The initial version of the survey was developed in 2012 in collaboration with the American Institute of Physics (AIP) Statistical Research Center and was launched in January 2013. The survey, which consisted of a mix of multiple-choice questions and short free-form-response questions, was sent to a randomly selected sample of 50% of all U.S. members of the AAS, corresponding to about 2,500 people. Up to two emails were sent to each recipient: an initial request and, if needed, a reminder. The survey was closed four months later in April 2013.

The response rate was excellent: 63% of the recipients (1,583 people) completed the survey. The AIP and AAS demographics team collated and analyzed the data over the summer and fall of 2013. The report summarizing the survey results was sent to the AAS Council in December 2013 and is now publicly available via the link below. We encourage all members to read the report. Planning for the 2015 survey is now under way.

Marc Postman & Rachel Ivie