and current information. There is a particular need to educate and expose young researchers to issues of public policy.

RECOMMENDATION: The American Astronomical Society and the American Physical Society, alongside the nation’s astronomy and astrophysics departments, should make both undergraduate and graduate students aware of the wide variety of rewarding career opportunities enabled by their education, and be supportive of students’ career decisions that go beyond academia. These groups should work with the federal agencies to gather and disseminate demographic data on astronomers in the workforce to inform students’ career decisions.

Underrepresented Groups

By all measures minority Americans are seriously underrepresented among professional astronomers, and women have not yet achieved parity. For many reasons, improving the involvement of minority Americans and women is a matter of the highest priority. As discussed in Chapter 4, the committee came to the following two conclusions:

CONCLUSION: Little progress has been made in increasing the number of minorities in astronomy. Agencies, astronomy departments, and the community as a whole need to refocus their efforts on attracting members of underrepresented minorities to the field.

CONCLUSION: The gender gap in astronomy has diminished significantly, although women still occupy only a small percentage of the most senior positions. Astronomy departments and the community as a whole need to continue work to promote gender equity at all levels.

Sustaining Core Capabilities


The role of theorists has changed greatly in recent times, and they have become more engaged in the interpretation of current data as well as the planning of future facilities and missions. In addition, computational approaches have expanded greatly the range of problems that can be solved with confidence. The committee concluded that a new approach to supporting theory is needed, a conclusion that is reflected in its proposed program.

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