Date: Wed, 01 Dec 1999 11:54:08 -0500 (EST)
Subject: CSWA Newsletter of 12/1/99

            AAS Committee on the Status of Women
     weekly issues of 12/01/99, ed. by Priscilla Benson
***  send email and addresses to  ***

This week's issues:
1.  Children's Toys Continued
2.  A Medical Warning on Tampons
3.  Weizmann Women & Science Award
4.  NSF POWRE Program
5.  Job Ads
1. Children's Toys Continued
From: Sherri Godlin

I agree whole-heartedly with the other comment
s regarding 
the Mattel computer ad and other Mattel products.  I got the 
same coupon in the mail and was equally disgusted by first 
the concept that you needed "boys" and "girls" computers, 
and second by the difference between the software included  
with the computer.  If I remember correctly, both computers 
came with encyclopedia and general reference software.  But 
the girl-specific software was for Barbie fashion designer, 
sticker designing, outfit selection, a virtual mall, etc. 
all ca
sed in a bright pink computer with big flowers on it. 
The blue and orange Hot Wheels boy's computer software 
included car and airplane designing, Hot Wheels software 
(where I assume the boys could design their own track and 
see how cars performed on it), logic puzzles, math puzzles, 
etc.  I wish I could be more specific, but I could not find 
any information on the children computers at the Mattel 

I see other evidence of the disparity between girls and boys 
toys every time I go in
to a toy store.  Even scarier is to 
watch Saturday morning cartoon time commercials.   If the 
CSWA decides to address this issue, and I hope we do, I will 
be happy to help any way I can. 

Sherri Stephan


Take a poll on that idea - I think it has a lot of merit.  
Esp. just before Christmas.  We could issue a list of 
preferred toys.  We could circulate it on our own also..


From: Grace Wolf-Chase

I think Lauretta's idea of putting the CSWA behind a list of 
recommended (and not recommended) toys sounds like a good 
idea to me -- I'd be all for this, with one caution. 
Consider that many of the problems with sex-stereotyped toys 
is not so much the actual toy, but how it's advertised. In 
this regard, the toy companies have been stuck in the 1950s 
for far too long, as far as I'm concerned! For example, 
dolls are perfectly acceptable toys. It's when we start 
insinuating that it is acceptable for girls to play with 
dolls and not for boys to play with dolls that we promote 
sexism. (For eg., the father that says "You won't catch MY 
son playing with dolls". Horror of horrors -- that boy might 
actually wind up being a good father!) Another aspect of 
this is that we must be careful we don't condemn toys just 
because we ourselves wouldn't find a particular toy 
interesting. Although for myself, I generally find most of 
the "interesting" toys in the "boys section", it wouldn't be 
right to condemn toy ovens just because I personally hate to 
cook! Again, it's a question of whether you promote an easy-
bake-oven as a "girl toy", or a toy where children in 
general can explore cooking!

I think we want to attack the ADVERTISING and challenge 
people's views about this, rather than attacking specific 
kinds of toys. No doubt about it, though, this will be 
tough, because it's "Joe and Jane Public" that generally 
motivate the toy companies in the first place. As a mother 
of three young children, I get plenty of opportunities to 
toy shop. Those of you who don't do this very often might be 
surprised to know how MANY people -- both men AND women -- 
help to propagate the mentality which classifies toys as 
"girl toys" or "boy toys". EVERY SINGLE TIME I've gone 
shopping for toys, I hear comments such as the woman who 
tells her daughter "No -- don't look for a gift for Suzie in 
that aisle -- those are the boys' toys." (Or the man who 
says "You won't catch MY son playing with dolls.") It is 
most definitely NOT just men who promote this particular 
brand of nonsense. 

Making the (good) assumption that the public drives what the 
toy companies provide, we'd better hope we're not seen as a 
3 sigma minority that the companies can safely ignore (the 
problem is that's pretty much what we are, isn't it?)! I 
don't mean to be negative about this -- just to point out 
that I think the "greater guilt", so to speak, lies with the 
public's mindset, rather than the toy companies who appeal 
to that mindset to sell toys...

Grace Wolf-Chase

From: Lynda Williams

To Whom it May Concern:

I just got your 'give the gift of discovery' catalogue and I 
am outraged by your sexist ads in which you depict boys 
playing with telescopes and girls making pottery and 
painting their nails! As an astronomer and educator I am 
outraged! I am going to encourage all astronomers to boycott 
Discovery Channel stores until you make more girl inclusive 


Lynda Williams
Physics and Astronomy
SF State University

From:  Priscilla J. Benson

I think Grace and Lynda have pointed out an important point 
-- that it is not necessarily the toy which is "bad"; it is 
the advertising!  Note that we don't want to boycott the 
telescope described in Lynda's letter - just the ad which 
depicts it played with only by boys!  Companies make toys 
which their market research departments think will sell.  
For each of us female scientists who resent the sexism of 
the ads, there are hundreds of other consumers who happily 
purchase these products, most often because their children 
request them.  Our problem is that there is still a large 
segment of the population who believe that all girls should 
play with dolls and all boys should play with trucks; the 
toy companies cater to this belief.  The toys themselves are 
not necessarily bad things.  If I had a little girl who 
wasn't interested in computers and was "into Barbie dolls", 
I might purchase the Barbie computer as a way to expand her 
horizons, showing her that there are some things she might 
be interested in doing with a computer, and hope that other 
uses would follow.  Perhaps a "pretty pink package" might 
help her to realize that computers aren't just for boys even 
if the boys in her class at school have told her that "girls 
aren't good with computers."


2.  A Medical Warning on Tampons
From: Ann Sprague spragueLPL.Arizona.EDU

Please consider distributing this message to the aaswomen 
email list.

Ann Sprague

  If you use pads, but especially if you use tampons read 
this and pass on to your friends (for the men receiving this 
email, please forward it to your friends, significant 
others, sisters, mothers, daughters, etc.)  thanks!

Have you heard that tampon makers include asbestos in 
tampons?  Why would they do this? Because asbestos makes you 
bleed more . . . if you bleed more, you're going to need to 
use more.  Why isn't this against the law since asbestos is 
so dangerous?  Because the powers that be, in all their 
wisdom (not!), did not consider tampons as being ingested, 
and therefore wasn't illegal or considered dangerous.

  This month's Essence magazine has a small article about 
this and they mention two manufacturers of a cotton tampon 
alternative.  The companies are Organic Essentials at(800) 
765-6491 and Terra Femme (800)755-0212.

 A woman getting her Ph.D. at University of Colorado at 
Boulder sent the following: "I am writing this because women 
are not being informed about the dangers of something most 
of us use - tampons.   I am taking a class this month and I 
have been learning a lot about biology and women, including 
much about feminine hygiene.

 Recently we have learned that tampons are actually 
dangerous for other reasons than TSS (toxic shock syndrome). 
I'll tell you this, after learning about this in our class, 
most of the females wound up feeling angry and upset with  
the tampon industry, and I for one, am going to do something 
about it.  To start, I want to inform everyone I can, and 
email is the fastest way that I know how.

 Here is the scoop: Tampons contain two things that are 
POTENTIALLY harmful:  Rayon (for absorbency), and dioxin (a 
chemical used in bleaching the products). The tampon 
industry is convinced that we, as women, need bleached white 
products - in order to view the product as pure and clean.

 The problem here is that the dioxin produced in this 
bleaching process can lead to very harmful problems for a 
woman.  Dioxin is potentially carcinogenic (cancer-
associated) and is toxic to the immune and reproductive 
systems. It has also been linked to Endometriosis and lower 
sperm counts for men- for both, it breaks down the immune 

Last September the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) 
reported that there really is no set "acceptable" level of 
exposure to dioxin given that it is cumulative and slow to 
disintegrate.  The real danger comes from repeated contact 
(Karen Houppert "Pulling the Plug on the Tampon Industry").

 I'd say using about 4-5 tampons a day, five days a month, 
for 38 menstruating years is "repeated contact", wouldn't' 
you?  Rayon contributes to the danger of tampons and dioxin 
because it is a highly absorbent substance.  Therefore, when 
fibers from the tampons are left behind in the vagina (as 
usually occurs), it creates a breeding ground for the 
dioxin. It also stays in a lot longer than it would with 
just cotton tampons.  This is also the reason why TSS 

 WHAT ARE THE ALTERNATIVES?  Using feminine hygiene products 
that aren't bleached and that are all cotton. Other feminine 
hygiene products (pads/napkins) contain dioxin as well, but 
they are not nearly as dangerous since they are not in 
direct contact with the vagina.  The pads/napkins need to 
stop being bleached, but obviously tampons are the most 

 So, what can you do if you can't give up using tampons? Use 
tampons, that are made from 100% cotton, and that are 
UNBLEACHED.  Unfortunately, there are very, very few 
companies that make these safe tampons. They are usually 
only found in health food stores.  Countries all over the 
world (Sweden, Germany, British Columbia, etc.) have 
demanded a switch to this safer tampon, while the US has 
decided to keep us in the dark about it.  In 1989, activists 
in England mounted a campaign against chlorine bleaching.  
Six weeks and 50,000 letters later, the makers of sanitary 
products switched to oxygen bleaching (one of the green 
methods available). (MS magazine,May/June1995).

 WHAT TO DO NOW: Tell people. Everyone.  Inform them.  We 
are being manipulated by this industry and the government, 
let's do something about it! Please write to the companies:  
Tampax (Tambrands),Playtex, O.B., Kotex. Call the 800 
numbers listed on the boxes.  Let them know that we demand a 

 Thank you.
 Donna C. Boisseau & Stephanie C. Baker;
 Assistants to Dr. B.S. Katzenellenbogen,
 Professor University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign;
 Department of Molecular and Integrative Physiology;
              (217) 333-9769
 Yours sincerely,
 V. Faire-Cooper,
 The HSI Foundation.

 Kathy Kellett
 Project Director

 K2 Communications
 Phone: 408.445.1277 
 Fax: 408.445.1352

3. Weizmann Women & Science Award
From the wiphys listserv

The American Committee for the Weizmann Institute of Science 
is pleased to announce that nominations for the Weizmann 
Women & Science Award are now being accepted.  Established 
in 1994, the award is given to honor an outstanding woman 
scientist who has made significant contributions to the 
scientific community, and to create more visible role  
The objective of the award is to advance the cause of women 
in science and to provide a role model to motivate ane 
encourage the next generation of young women scientists.
The recipient may come from any scientific discipline, 
(i.e., biology, chemistry, physics, engineering, 
environmental science, etc. ) And can be engaged in either 
basic or applied science, in either research, education, or 
policy making in the United States. A stipulation of 
receiving the biennial award is that the recipient be 
available to participate in the awards ceremony on Tuesday, 
June 6, 2000 at a reception at the Academy of Science.  She 
may also be requested to speak or be a special guest at a 
future Women & Science event.

The recipient will be given a $25,000 research grant to the 
project of her choice and will be sponsored for a trip to 
visit the Weizmann Institute of science in Rehovot, Israel.
For further information and to receive an application form, 
please contact:
American Committee for the Weizmann Institute of Science
Attn: Liz Jaffe
Weizmann Women and Science Award
130 E. 59th St
New York, NY 10022
(212) 779-2500 phone

4. NSF POWRE Program
From: "Wright, James P."

Here are a few tips if anyone plans to apply to the NSF POWRE 

1)  The deadline is December 9, 1999 and the FULL POWRE 
proposal has to be submitted by FastLane, including scanning 
in the institutional certification page.  Start early! The 
program announcement, with the instructions, is NSF 99-164.

2)  The second line of the cover sheet, which identifies the 
program, should say "Astronomy - Special Programs in 

3)  FastLane questions should be directed to Kim Elliott at 
(703) 306-1804 or at "".

Jim Wright
5. Job Notices

The Wellesley College Astronomy Department seeks a 3/5 time 
leave replacement at the Assistant Professor level for the 
2000/2001 academic year, beginning September 2000. Wellesley 
College, located near Boston, is a highly selective women's 
college of 2200 students with a history of excellence in 
astronomy. We are part of the Keck Northeast Astronomy 
Consortium (KNAC) of eight undergraduate astronomy 
departments. We are looking for applicants with a Ph.D. in 
astronomy or astrophysics and evidence of enthusiasm for and 
experience in undergraduate teaching in astronomy. The 
successful candidate will teach one introductory course in 
the fall and spring semesters, and a more advanced course 
during the spring semester. 

Please visit for more 
information about Wellesley College, our department, and 
this leave replacement position, which includes full 
benefits.  Candidates should submit a letter of application 
describing relevant work and teaching experience, a vita, 
and the names, e-mail addresses, and telephone numbers of 
three people who have agreed to serve as references. 
Interested candidates who will be attending the AAS meeting 
in January are encouraged to sign up for an interview at the 
meeting with Priscilla Benson (, a 
senior member of our department. Applications are due by 
January 28, 2000. Wellesley College encourages applications 
from women, minorities, veterans and candidates with 
disabilities. AAE/EOE.

From: Kim Coplin

The Denison University Department of Physics and Astronomy 
invites applications for a tenure track assistant professor 
in observational astronomy starting September 2000.  Ph.D. 
required.  We are seeking candidates vitally interested in 
teaching physics and astronomy at both the beginning and 
advanced levels including laboratory based courses; the 
successful applicant will also carry out active research 
with the involvement of undergraduates.  Preference will be 
given to candidates in the areas of astronomy and 
astrophysics who have solid experience in observational 
techniques and who have public outreach experience.  Start-
up funds for research will be available.  On campus 
interviews will include presentation of research, classroom 
teaching and a proposed public outreach program in 
astronomy.  Denison University is a liberal arts college of 
2000 students, located in Granville, Ohio, 30 minutes from 
Columbus, Ohio.  The department consists of a six member 
faculty, full time secretary and technical assistant.  
Facilities include excellent equipment for both teaching and 
research, a link to the Ohio  Supercomputer,  observatory, 
planetarium, and well-equipped machine shop.  Additional 
information may be obtained from our web site at  Applicants should submit 
vita, graduate school transcript, a description of teaching 
interests and experience, a proposed research plan including 
the means for involving undergraduates, and  three (3) 
letters of references to: Dr. Kimberly Coplin, Chair of the  
Search Committee, Department of Physics and Astronomy, 
Denison University, Granville, OH  43023.  Applications 
received by the extended deadline of December 20th will 
receive full consideration. The position will remain open 
until filled.  Please submit applications by post only.  
Denison is an Affirmative Action, Equal Opportunity Employer 
and strongly encourages applications from women and minority 

End of CSWA Newsletter of 12/1/99