Women in Physics and Astronomy

Photo by P. Marenfeld & NOAO/AURA/NSF
The goal of the Foundation’s women in physics and astronomy grantmaking is to increase the number of women in these fields, both in colleges and in academic and research careers in the United States.

Although women make up almost 50 percent of physics students in high school, they comprise only 10 percent of full professors in the United States. In astronomy, the numbers aren’t much better, with women making up only 15 percent of full professors. Gender inequities exist at many points along the career paths in these two fields, from undergraduate and graduate programs to assistant faculty and associate faculty positions. And the gender imbalance is significantly worse than in many other science, technology, engineering, and math disciplines.

Against this background, the Science program aims to work toward a more inclusive and innovative physics and astronomy braintrust. Our grants support projects that:

  • Improve institutional climate
  • Empower individuals
  • Build networks and support systems
  • Curate, analyze, and disseminate data and best practices

Central to our commitment to increase the number of women in physics and astronomy in the US academy is our Physics and Astronomy Leadership Council.


In 2016, nearly a dozen of the country’s leading scholars in physics and astronomy visited the Heising-Simons Foundation for an important discussion. View the following photo essay: For the Good of Science: Why We Need More Women in Physics and Astronomy.

Increasing Diversity Equity and Inclusion in Physics and Astronomy_Banner_Frame_Final

The Foundation supports innovative and scalable initiatives to promote a more inclusive and diverse physics and astronomy braintrust. We hope to inspire more such efforts from the funders’ community, and within academic institutions. Download a PDF version of some of these resources.

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