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How To Increase Diversity & Representation In Astronomy

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Astronomy contributor Jean Creighton says that highlighting that diversity in the field is necessary for both kids and adults.

When people think of astronomers, several names come to mind: Isaac Newton, Galileo Galilei, or Carl Sagan — all white men. But throughout history, women and other people of color have made huge contributions to our understanding of the cosmos.

Astronomy contributor Jean Creighton says that highlighting that diversity in the field is necessary for both kids and adults. 

"It's so important to break those barriers, no matter who you are, no matter what you do, so that the stereotypes that people put in their heads are set aside," says Creighton.

She recalls that when she was a graduate student, most of her professors were male and "there were certain things that [she] felt they really couldn't answer."

Creighton notes that while diversity in astronomy has improved, there is still some ground to be gained.

Her advice? Look, ask and see. "If you can't see those people, they might be there anyway," notes Creighton. "And if they're not, yes, then it's your responsibility to try and become one."

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Bonnie North
Bonnie joined WUWM in March 2006 as the Arts Producer of the locally produced weekday magazine program Lake Effect.
Dr. Jean Creighton has always been inspired by how the cosmos works. She was born in Toronto, Ontario and grew up in Athens, Greece where her mother claims she showed a great interest in how stars form from the age of five. She studied physics at the University of Athens and went on to earn a Master’s degree from Saint Mary's University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and a PhD in Astrophysics from the University of Waterloo. She began teaching astronomy at UW-Milwaukee in 1999 and in 2007, she took over as director of UWM's Manfred Olson Planetarium.