P2.018 — Astronomy Allies

Date & Time

Aug 10th at 6:00 PM until 6:00 PM




Rating ( votes)

Author(s): Heather Flewelling2, Katherine Alatalo1

Institution(s): 1. Caltech/IPAC, 2. institute for astronomy

Imagine you are a grad student, at your first conference, and a prominent senior scientist shows interest in your work, and he makes things get way too personal? What would you do? Would you report it? Or would you decide, after a few other instances of harassment, that maybe you shouldn't pursue astronomy? Harassment is under-reported, the policies can be difficult to understand or hard to find, and it can be very intimidating as a young scientist to report it to the proper individuals. The Astronomy Allies Program is designed to help you with these sorts of problems. We are a group of volunteers that will help by doing the following: provide safe walks home during the conference, someone to talk to confidentially, as an intervener, as a resource to report harassment. The Allies are a diverse group of scientists committed to acting as mentors, advocates, and liaisons. The Winter 2015 AAS meeting was the first meeting that had Astronomy Allies, and Astronomy Allies provided a website for information, as well as a twitter, email, and phone number for anyone who needs our help or would like more information. We posted about the Astronomy Allies on the Women In Astronomy blog, and this program resonates with many people: either they want to help, or they have experienced harassment in the past and don't want to see it in the future. Harassment may not happen to most conference participants, but it's wrong, it's against the AAS anti-harassment policy ( http://aas.org/policies/anti-harassment-policy ), it can be very damaging, and if it happens to even one person, that is unacceptable. We intend to improve the culture at conferences to make it so that harassers feel they can't get away with their unprofessional behavior.