Letters of Intent received in 2019

LoI 2021-2071
GA Focus Meeting: Diversity and Inclusion in Astronomy: strategic actions for 2020-2030

Date: 20 August 2021 to 20 August 2021
Category: Focus meetings (GA)
Location: Busan, Korea, Rep of
Contact: Amelia Ortiz Gil (amelia.ortiz@uv.es)
Coordinating division: Division C Education, Outreach and Heritage
Other divisions: Division A Fundamental Astronomy
Division D High Energy Phenomena and Fundamental Physics
Division E Sun and Heliosphere
Division F Planetary Systems and Astrobiology
Division G Stars and Stellar Physics
Co-Chairs of SOC: Amelia Ortiz Gil (University of Valencia)
Lina Canas (Office of Astronomy Outreach)
Chair of LOC: None (None)



1) Diversity in research teams and institutions: benefits, how to achieve them, good practices, successful stories, identification of conscious and unconscious barriers;
2) Identify and address barriers to access: tools, strategies to make Astronomy education and research more accessible, fostering a climate of inclusivity and learning from best practices in disabilities;
3) New Technologies for Accessibility: diversity and disability;
4) Global Perspectives on Equity, Diversity and Inclusion in Astronomy;
5) Diversity in Research: Intersectionalities
6) Inclusion, Diversity and Equity in IAU’s Strategic Plan 2020-2030: strategic actions for the next decade and implementation of the Mitaka Resolutions



The International Astronomical Union, in its Strategic Plan for 2020-2030, has underlined the necessity of achieving real inclusion, diversity and equity in all fields of Astronomy (Goal 2) [1]. The Executive Committee (EC) Working Group (WG) on Astronomy for Equity and Inclusion was established in 2019, to propose and implement strategic actions in order to accomplish that goal.

The first General Assembly (GA) Focus Meeting (FM) on Diversity and Inclusion in Astronomy: Strategic Actions for 2020-2030, proposed by the new EC WG in this LoI, will provide the ideal platform (1) to position the actions carried by the IAU so far within the Strategic Plan; (2) to identify progress, challenges and barriers; and (3) to propose solutions to fulfill the IAU mandate.

In the last few years, many international institutions around the world have experienced an active shift in policies towards more diverse and inclusive working-places [2]. Nevertheless, we are still far, in practice, from achieving the desired results and in dire need of taking evidence-based actions supported by social studies [3, 4].

There is also a pressing need to move beyond a simple social justice perspective (doing the right thing by avoiding any kind of discrimination) and start embracing the benefits that come from a diverse and inclusive research group/institution in terms of increasing the competitiveness and excellence. It has been shown, for example, that diverse and inclusive groups/institutions foster a diversity in research methods and in the questions being asked leading to more creative approaches and solutions to the problems in hand, and helping, therefore, to reach scientific excellence [5,6].

The road to 2021 GA Focus Meeting

In 2015, the IAU Working Group on Astronomy for Equity and Inclusion under Division C, Commission C1 was established as a platform for research and development of different strategies, tools and resources to provide people with special educational needs or people with visual, hearing and / or motor disabilities, a learning and participative space, accessible, interesting and educational, without neglecting the basics of scientific dissemination, ensuring interaction in an engaging context.

In 2017, the IAU-lead programme Inspiring Stars, centered in a dynamic display of best international practices, launched a call for resources. The outcome of this call identified that a vast majority of the actions being carried on Astronomy for Inclusion were at the educational and outreach aspects of astronomy, leaving research and professional aspects, in comparison, still behind.

In 2019, with the IAU Strategic Plan 2020-2030 approved and the first IAU symposium on Astronomy for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion taking place, the newly elevated to an IAU EC Working Group on Astronomy for Equity and Inclusion reached nearly 200 members in the first few months of existence. The WG intends to strengthen its position closer to the IAU members, by establishing a higher profile closer to the various IAU Scientific Bodies.

As a legacy of the IAU Symposium on Equity and Diversity in Japan (November 2019), the IAU group will compile a report on the areas that can be identified as red-flags in the various topics addressed about underrepresented groups and people with disabilities and its intersections with identity and gender, therefore working closely with our sister EC WG Women in Astronomy. The results of the IAU Symposium will be presented at the FM, as well as the Mitaka Resolutions document that will be submitted for the official endorsement of the IAU at the 2021 GA.

With 180 submissions for the first symposium in 2019, we can affirm that there are actions being taken in the community that denote change. In the 2021 FM we want to understand how and where that change took place and how it is shaped.

Finally, while the global panorama is still largely dominated by outreach and educational practices, with this FM at an IAU focal point as the GA, the WG intends to move from an outreach and educational framework and tackle the policies and practices carried by teams and institutions on research environments. Addressing more inclusive measures at the research aspect of astronomy needs to be prioritized to facilitate the access of diverse people to astronomy professional careers, and to transform the research institutions into inclusive ones.

The predicted Scientific Program for the one-day Focus Meeting, is the following:


Session 1: Diversity in research teams and institutions
30’ invited talk
15’ talks (6)

Break (30’)

Session 2: Identify and address barriers to access
30’ invited talk
15’ talks (6)


Session 3:

Inclusion, Diversity and Equity in IAU’s Strategic Plan 2020-2030
30’ invited talk
15’ talks (6)

Break (30’)

Session 4: Presentation of the Mitaka Resolutions
45’ presentation of the resolutions
1h 15’ Discussion

[1] IAU Strategic Plan 2020-2030 (retrieved on August 28, 2019)

[2] Powell, K. (2018). These labs are remarkably diverse - here’s why they are winning at science, Nature 558, 19-22 (2018), doi: 10.1038/d41586-018-05316-5

[3] Eight truths about diversity and inclusion at work, Deloitte Insights, 2016. https://www2.deloitte.com/us/en/insights/deloitte-review/issue-22/diversity-and-inclusion-at-work-eight-powerful-truths.html (retrieved on September 4th, 2019)

[4] Dobbin, F. & Kalev, A. (2016) Why Diversity Programs Fail, Harvard Business Review, https://hbr.org/2016/07/why-diversity-programs-fail [retrieved on September 4th, 2019)

[5] Phillips, K.W. (2014) How Diversity Works, Scientific American 311, 4, 42-47 (October 2014)

[6] Guterl F. (2014) Diversity in Science: Why It Is Essential for Excellence, Scientific American, 311, 4,38-40 (October 2014) doi:10.1038/scientificamerican1014-38