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The State of the Planetary Science Community: Results from the 2020 DPS Workforce and Members Survey

Presentation #504.01 in the session “IDEA: Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Accessibility”.

Published onOct 03, 2021
The State of the Planetary Science Community: Results from the 2020 DPS Workforce and Members Survey

In April 2020, a survey was sent to planetary scientists in order to, in part, gather information on the state of the planetary science workforce that might be useful to the 2020 Planetary Science and Astrobiology Decadal Survey. The survey was organized and funded by the American Astronomical Society (AAS)’s Division of Planetary Science (DPS) but was carried out by the Statistical Research Center of the American Institute of Physics (AIP). The survey had two main goals: (1) To act as a survey of DPS members, and (2) To act as a survey of the planetary science profession. As such, questions in the survey were based on previous DPS member surveys, AAS member surveys, and the 2011 planetary workforce survey. Here, we focus on the first goal of the survey and differences between the DPS membership and planetary scientists in general. More results are available at

The demographics of DPS members is significantly different from the demographics of the planetary science field. Unsurprisingly, scientists whose primary research interests are geology, geomorphology, geochemistry or extrosolar planets are underrepresented among DPS members while interests in atmospheric science, dynamics and solar system origin are overrepresented. More interestingly, DPS membership is lacking in diversity with fewer women (32% vs. 37%) and a higher percentage of white members than the field as a whole (87% vs. 83%).

DPS members were asked about their priorities. While advocacy and organizing the annual meeting remain the highest priorities (63% each), as they have been in previous DPS members’ surveys, supporting diversity has gained increased importance in our community (40%, 4th ranked). Supporting diversity is an even higher priority for DPS members who are women (55%) and who are LGBTQ+ (52%). Awarding prizes was seen as a low priority for the DPS membership (14%, ranked 11th out of 14 choices) and that rate was even lower among LGBTQ+ (4%) and Black members (7%).

The results of the survey suggest several possible actions: 1. Determine if DPS wants to be the society for ALL planetary scientists and not just planetary astronomers. 2. Ensure DPS’ priorities aren’t ignoring the needs of women and underrepresented racial/ethnic communities. 3. Acknowledge the community’s low prioritization of prizes by rethinking the amount of time and/or money going to them or rethink them completely.


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