Demographics of Astronomy and Geophysics - Oxford Research & Policy
astronomy, geophysics, demographics
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Demographics of Astronomy and Geophysics

Studies of the Demographics of Astronomy and Geophysics

The Royal Astronomical Society has commissioned Oxford Research & Policy to carry out two studies of the demographics of UK astronomy and (academic) geophysics. The studies focused on the state of affairs between 2006 and 2010, and 2010 and 2016, respectively. A previous survey had been carried out in 1998, and the hope was that the 2010 study would provide a baseline for assessing the impact of cuts to research funding over the coming years.

The studies were divided into two parts. First, heads of departments, research groups and institutions were contacted and asked to supply data about the profile and turnover of their staff and research students during the periods of interest. Second, a link to a questionnaire for individuals was distributed.

The 2010 study found a modest expansion in the size of the UK astronomy and solar system science community, a significant increase in the proportion of women employed, and a sizeable number of researchers in the UK originating from other countries in the European Union. The decline in the number of technical staff reported in 1998 has continued. The community was also disproportionately white, and women in senior academic positions are rather less likely to have children than their peers in wider society.

More details of the results of the 2016 study, and the full report, can be found here.

A third study covering the period between 2016 to 2022 is currently underway and we expect the report will be published in the Autumn of 2023.

The full 2010 study report is available here.

An article about the 2010 study was published in Astronomy & Geophysics which can be found here.