Splinter Meeting Careers

Healthy Careers in Astronomy (and beyond)

Time: Thursday September 16, 09:00-11:00 CEST (UTC+2)

Room: virtual Career

Convenor(s): Marcel S. Pawlowski [1], Francesca Fragkoudi [2]
[1] Leibniz-Institut für Astrophysik Potsdam (AIP), [2] European Southern Observatory (ESO), Garching

Academic working environments are associated with a unique set of circumstances that often lead to work-related stressors. This is especially true for early career researchers, many of whom work on short-term contracts far away from their support networks. It is thus unsurprising that studies find that at least 30% and up to 80% of academics (depending on considered subpopulation) are affected by mental health issues, a much higher number than in the general population (https://www.nature.com/articles/nbt.4089). Astronomy is not immune to such problems. On the contrary, it is particularly affected: career prospects within astronomy itself are rare beyond an academic environment, and the international nature of our field means that many will work abroad, where the new environment and the bureaucratic burdens increase both objective and subjective stressors. The ongoing pandemic has further exacerbated the situation, disproportionately affecting junior researchers (e.g. with a lack of classical networking opportunities), parents of young children (e.g. Deryugina et al. 2021), and particularly harming women’s careers (https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-021-00854-x). This session aims to address these issues by facilitating a conversation about stress and mental health in our fields, and by sharing resources on how to deal with these problems. We particularly hope that the sessions will contribute to decreasing the stigma around conversations on topics such as mental health, stress management and (career) anxiety. The success of this session during the virtual AG Meeting in 2020 (co-organized by Dr. Victoria Grinberg), demonstrated the broad interest in the community for such programs, and highlighted the need to tackle this issue and provide tools to manage stress. While a splinter session cannot offer comprehensive hands-on training, we aim to point participants to available resources and raise awareness for the need to take these issues seriously and discuss them openly in our field. Even though we identify early career astronomers (PhD candidates, postdocs, junior research group leaders) as the especially vulnerable group, this session welcomes colleagues at all career stages. The program will mainly consist of a few longer focus talks, but time will also be available for short contributions, structured discussions, and to start building networks.


Thursday September 16, 09:00-11:00 Healthy Careers in Astronomy (and beyond) (virtual Career)

09:00  Francesca Fragkoudi:
Opening remarks

09:05  Francesca Primas:
Equity in academic hiring

09:30  Sarah Jane Schmidt:
From the stars back down to Earth: getting a job as a data scientist

09:50  Juan Carlos Munoz-Mateos:
Switching from research to science communication during a pandemic: mission possible!

10:10  Marcel S. Pawlowski:
An Introduction to Time Management

10:35  Iris Köhler:
Networking for People Who Don’t Like Networking

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