Perspective | Published:

A sociological study of gender and astronomy in Spain


The under-representation of women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics has been an issue of great concern within the European scientific community and beyond. To initiate actions that will alleviate this deficiency, it is important to understand the reasons behind it. This Perspective highlights the results of our research into the situation of women in the field of astronomy and astrophysics in Spain, which was first published in Spanish in 2010. In that study, we first summarized the situation of women astronomers in Spain on the basis of statistical data obtained from the most relevant Spanish institutions. Then we combined in-depth interviews with teaching staff and researchers that took place at the same time as the statistical survey. We also interviewed groups of PhD candidates and post-doctoral researchers to explore potential trends. Here we update the quantitative aspects of this analysis with more recent data from 2016, and present action plans already in place or recently proposed to improve the situation of women astronomers in Spain. We make this information available to the international astronomical community as motivation for further studies.

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Author information

E.P.S. took the lead in writing the manuscript. A.K. performed all interviews. I.M.P. made the figures. All authors provided critical feedback and helped shape the content of the manuscript.

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing interests.

Correspondence to Eulalia Pérez Sedeño.

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Fig. 1: People working in astronomy (research and/or teaching) in Spain in 2009.
Fig. 2: Percentage of women and men working in astronomy in 2009 in Spain.
Fig. 3: Percentage of women in research positions in astronomy in Spain.

reproduced from ref. 16, SEA

Fig. 4: Percentage of women astronomers affiliated with the International Astronomical Union in 2017.

Flag images, Vermicule / Alamy Stock Vector

Fig. 5: Percentage of women astronomers in Spain from 2002 to 2016.