Gender equality in modern societies is a topic that never fails to raise passion and controversy, in spite of the large body
of research material and studies currently available to inform the general public and scientists alike.
This paper brings the gender equity and equality discussion on the Adaptive Optics community doorstep. Its aim is threefold:
(1) Raising awareness about the gender gap in science and astronomy in general, and in Adaptive Optics in
particular; (2) Providing a snapshot of real and/or perceived causes for the gender gap existing in science and
engineering; and (3) Presenting a range of practical solutions which have been or are being implemented at various
institutions in order to bridge this gap and increase female participation at all levels of the scientific enterprise.
Actual data will be presented to support aim (1), including existing gender data in science, engineering and astronomy,
as well as original data specific to the Adaptive Optics community to be gathered in time for presentation at this
conference. (2) will explore the often complex causes converging to explain gender equity issues that are deeply rooted
in our male-dominated culture, including: conscious and unconscious gender biases in perceptions and attitudes, worklife
balance, n-body problem, fewer numbers of female leaders and role models, etc. Finally, (3) will offer examples of
conscious and pro-active gender equity measures which are helping to bring the female to male ratio closer to its
desirable 50/50 target in science and astronomy.