Introducing ASTROMOVES

The ASTROMOVES project studies the career moves and the career decision-making of astrophysicists. The astrophysicists participating have to have made at least two career moves after receiving their doctorates, which is usually between 4 and 8 years post PhD. ASTROMOVES is funded via the European Union and thus each participant must have worked or lived in Europe. Gender, ethnicity, nationality, marital status, and if they have children are some of the many factors for analysis. Other studies of the careers of astronomers and astrophysicists have taken survey approaches (Fohlmeister & Helling, 2012, 2014; Ivie et al., 2013; Ivie & White, 2015) laying a foundation upon which ASTROMOVES builds. For ASTROMOVES qualitative interviews are combined with publicly available information for the project, rather than surveys. Valuable information about career options and the decisions about where not to apply will be gathered for the first time. Those few studies that have used qualitative interviews often include both physicists and astrophysicists, nonetheless they have revealed issues that are important to ASTROMOVES such as the role of activism and the nuances of having children related to the long work hours culture (Ong, 2001; Rolin & Vainio, 2011). The global COVID-19 pandemic has slowed down the project; however, at the time of this writing 20 interviews have been completed. These interviews support previous research findings on how having a family plays an important role in career decision making, as well as the importance of mobility in building a career in astrophysics. Cultural Astronomy spans all aspects of the relationship between humans and the sky as well as all times ancient to the present; and thus, studying astronomers & astrophysicists who have a professional relationship to the sky is part of cultural astronomy, too.

Introducing ASTROMOVES, Jarita Holbrook, SEAC conference 2021, arXiv:2112.03090