Committee for Sexual-Orientation and Gender Minorities in Astronomy (SGMA)

The American Astronomical Society (AAS) Committee for Sexual-Orientation and Gender Minorities in Astronomy (SGMA) works to promote equality for sexual-orientation and gender minorities (SGMs) within our profession, including those identifying as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, questioning or queer, or asexual. SGMA was originally established as the Working Group on LGBTIQ Equality (WGLE) in January 2012.

News

Upcoming Event

  • LGBTIQA Networking Dinner, 6:30 pm, Monday, June 13, 2016, at the AAS meeting in San Diego, California

Contact Info

The LGBTIQA astronomy community in the US has a general email list, GLBTQastro which everyone is welcome to join. All AAS members are invited to participate in SGMA; to join, contact SGMA at sgma_info@aas.org.

Why We Exist

Many LGBTIQA (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, questioning or queer, and asexual) people are scientists, and many workplaces have adopted non-discrimination policies. Still, LGBTIQA astronomers continue to face discrimination. In 28 of the 50 United States, it is legal to fire someone solely because they are lesbian, gay, or bisexual; in 32 states it is legal to fire someone solely for being transgender. While most workplaces prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation, such policies are not universal, and many workplaces do not ban discrimination based on gender identity or expression. Hostile scientific work environments still exist, with negative consequences for the productivity and well-being of LGBTIQA scientists, especially the most junior.

To address these concerns, SGMA works to promote equality for LGBTIQA individuals within our profession. SGMA has developed a set of best practices for institutions and departments that wish to be more welcoming to their LGBTIQA colleagues, staff, and students. SGMA provides training and materials on LGBTIQA issues and diversity and promotes mentoring and networking within the LGBTIQA community. Finally, since homophobia, sexism, and racism have common roots, SGMA works with CSWA and CSMA to increase opportunities for all who wish to pursue a career in astronomy.

These issues should concern all AAS members, because the concept of meritocracy is central to any scientific society, and discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity is profoundly anti-meritocratic. Through SGMA, we are working to make our profession more equitable and more diverse.

Our Charge

The Committee for Sexual-Orientation and Gender Minorities in Astronomy (SGMA) is tasked with promoting equality for sexual-orientation and gender minorities (SGMs) within our profession, including those identifying as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, questioning or queer, or asexual. To that end, SGMA works to

  • end hiring and workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity or expression
  • eliminate the inequalities in compensation experienced by SGMs;
  • create a professional climate that respects and values diversity
  • serve as a conduit for communication between the AAS Council and the SGM community
  • support networking and peer mentoring among SGMs
  • provide resources to support SGM equality within the astronomical profession

SGMA Tools

Equality begins at home. If your department or institution wants to be more welcoming to LGBTIQA students and colleagues, have a look at our new report, Supporting LGBT+ Physicists and Astronomers: Best Practices for Academic Departments. Jointly developed by WGLE and LGBT+ Physicists, this document presents ideas for improving the climate in your department, both today and for the long term, tips for addressing hiring and personnel issues, and suggestions for advocacy at the institutional level. Check also our best practices brochure.

SGMA Interviews

SGMA Archives

Web Resources:

Resources for Professionals

Resources for Students

National Organizations

Glossary

Transgender: An umbrella term for people whose gender identity, expression, or behavior is different from those typically associated with their assigned sex at birth (National Center for Transgender Equality).

Intersex: A term used for people who are born with external genitalia, chromosomes, or internal reproductive systems that are not traditionally associated with either a “standard” male or female (National Center for Transgender Equality).

Questioning: The questioning of one's gender, sexual identity, sexual orientation, or all three is a process of exploration by people who may be unsure, still exploring, or concerned about applying a social label to themselves for various reasons (Wikipedia).

Straight ally: a heterosexual person who supports equal civil rights, gender equality, LGBTIQA social movements, and challenges homophobia (Wikipedia).

SGMA Logo

The SGMA (formerly WGLE) logo was designed by Melody Weist.

SGMA