Julie Rathbun's Diversity Page

During my career, I've experienced first-hand the lack of diversity in Physics, Astronomy, and Planetary Science. When I received my Bachelor's degree in 1994, I was the only women in a class of 7 students graduating with physics degrees. I was hired by the University of Redlands in 2001, the first woman to be hired in the physics department. Now, I am a full professor in that department and still the only woman hired into a tenure-track position. According to the APS, in 2010 only 8% of Full Professors of physics were women. I was made a full professor in 2015.

Women on NASA spacecraft Science teams

Many planetary scientists aspire to involvement in robotic spacecraft mission science teams. Membership on such a team offers brand new data, financial security, and a sense of awe and exploration. It can lead to a cascade of opportunities from conference and public presentations, to membership in subsequent missions, and prestige in the community.

I have led a group of planetary and social scientists to determine the percentage of women on 26 robotic planetary missions over the past 41 years. Our results were presented at the 2015 and 2016 DPS meetings, in the Women in Planetary Science and Planetary Society blogs, and in Nature Astronomy. The conclusion is that from 2001 through 2016, the percentage of women involved in spacecraft science teams has remained flat, at 15.8%. At the same time, the percentage of women in the field has increased from ~15% to ~25%. I was also interviewed on this topic by Science Magazine.

At the Planetary Science Vison 2050 Worshop, I presented a poster on workforce issues. The abstract is also available.

At the 2017 Women in Astronomy IV and the 2018 Women in Planetary Science and Exploration meetings, I presented posters on behalf of L. Quick, S. Diniega, and myself, on Women of Color in the Planetary Science Workforce. We showed that if you assume 100% of white men that have the talent and desire to be planetary scientists do so, then only ~30% of white women do and less than 3% of women of color (not including Asian women). This represents a major loss of potentially talented women of color who are kept out of the planetary science community.

At the Women in Planetary Science and Exploration meetin, I also presented a poster on behalf of the DPS Professional Culture and Climate Subcommittee (PCCS). We highlighted several events at the 2017 DPS meeting, including the lecture on Microaggressions and the use of pronoun stickers.

DPS prizes

In early June, 2017, DPS announced the winners of their major prizes. Margie Kivelson was awarded the Kuiper Prize, which honors outstanding contributions to the field of planetary science. In May 2016, Margie was awarded the Monolith award from the Europa Clipper team and, after the award presentation, she gave an amazing talk about her career. I was lucky enough to have attended this talk and tweeted it.

Of the six 2017 DPS award winners, 4 were awarded to women. ALL of the women highly deserved their awards, but when such a large percentage of a minority group gets prestigious awards, there is bound to be those who call it out as undeserved or pandering. However, DPS awards have ignorded deserving women for many years. In 2016, only 1 out of 5 awards was given to a women, and that that was the jornalism award (not given to a scientist). Furthermore, in the history of the awards, most have been awarded primarily to men. During Pat Knezcek's Plenary lecture at the 2016 DPS meeting, she showed a chart showing the numbers of men and women that had been awarded DPS prizes. At that time, even the Urey prize, for young scientists, had only been awarded to 16% women when there has been more than 20% women in the field since ~2004. The awards that have gone to the most women are the Eberhart, which is for journalism, and the Masursky, which is for service. Margy Kivelson is only the second women EVER awarded the Kuiper prize (the other was Carle M. Pieters, in 2004).