Demographic breakdown of our survey sample

We have finally finished writing up the results for our survey on perceptions of appropriate behavior between students and advisors for the 2009 Women in Astronomy and Space Science Meeting.  It was quite an effort – 10 scenarios, 579 respondents and over 2000 comments have been merged into a poster (presented at the conference) and a four-page write-up for the conference proceedings.  All the details can be found at:

A short summary of our results:

  1. Perceptions of appropriateness vary considerably in the astronomical community at all levels, even for situations that might be deemed “obvious”.
  2. Perceptions of appropriateness vary with age and professional status, with younger astronomers and those at earlier stages in their careers (students, postdocs) typically viewing behaviors as more appropriate.  In particular, there were frequently differences in perceptions of appropriateness between students and advisors.
  3. On average, scenarios were seen as more inappropriate for student/advisor pairs with different genders than pairs with the same genders. Given that female students are less likely to have a same-gender advisor than male students (see my last blog post on this), this trend may have a negative affect on young women’s student/advisor relationships.
  4. Our survey attracted a small fraction (8%) of highly negative and fearful criticism, overwhelmingly from men.  There unfortunately appears to be continued resistance to open discussion of appropriate behaviors between students and advisors.

Comments are welcome!