Increasing the Number of Underrepresented Minorities in Astronomy: Executive Summary

Norman, Dara
Agueros, Marcel
Anderson, Scott F.
Baker, Andrew
Burgasser, Adam
Cruz, Kelle
Ernst, David J.
Gawiser, Eric
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Promoting racial and ethnic diversity is critically important to the future success and growth of the field of astronomy. The raw ability, drive and interest required to excel in the field is distributed without regard to race, gender, or socioeconomic background. By not actively promoting diversity in our field we risk losing talented people to other professions (or losing them entirely), which means that there will be astronomical discoveries that simply won't get made. There is demonstrated evidence that STEM fields benefit from diverse perspectives on problems that require more complex thought processes. This is especially relevant to a field like astronomy where more and more work is being done collaboratively. The lack of notable growth in African American, Hispanic, and Native American representation in astronomy indicates that the 'pipeline' for these individuals is systemically leaky at critical junctures. Substantially more effort must be directed toward improving the educational and career development of minorities to insure that these potential colleagues are supported through the process. However, simply recognizing that the pipeline is faulty is woefully inadequate. There must be very specific, targeted solutions to help improve the situation. With this in mind, we offer two position papers addressing specific areas of improvement that we identify as (a) essential for any foreseeable progress in the field, and (b) attainable in the 2010-2020 decade. These position papers focus primarily on African Americans, Hispanics, and Native Americans. Although we do not directly address issues of Asian Americans, Pacific Islanders, and other groups, many of the recommendations made here can be adapted to address issues faced by these groups as well.
Comment: 5 pages, An Astro2010 Decadal Survey State of the Profession Position Paper
Astrophysics - Instrumentation and Methods for Astrophysics