Date: Wed, 09 Feb 2000 09:25:05 -0500 (EST)
Subject: CSWA Newsletter of 2/9/2000

            AAS Committee on the Status of Women
    weekly issues of  2/9/2000, ed. by Priscilla Benson
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This week's issues:
1.  Advising student who doesn't do well
2.  The female-lunar connection??
3.  Jobs
1. Advising student who doesn't do well

How to suggest a career change properly?

  I am the academic advisor to a sophomore physics major -- 
call her Jill.  Jill came to our college for a visit two 
years ago, and I chatted with her at that time.  She showed 
great interest in astronomy and our observatory.  She had 
worked as an aide at her local planetarium, and hoped to 
major in physics, with lots of astronomy.  I encouraged her 
to come to our school and do that.

  During her first year, Jill took the usual introductory 
courses in science and math.  Her grades were not very good 
-- she received a "D" in one of the introductory physics 
classes.  I talked to her about it, and it seems to me that 
the problem is not with math; instead, I think that she was 
spreading herself too thin.  She worked on the student 
newspaper quite a bit.  I advised her to leave that job, and 
spend more time on her classwork.  I helped her to transfer 
to a different, quieter dorm, since she was having trouble 
studying in her room at night.

  In her second year, Jill became a resident advisor in one 
of the dorms, partially for financial reasons (free room and 
board, which is important given her family's finances), and 
partly because she enjoys working with people.  She's good 
at it, from what I hear. She has also continued to work at 
the student newspaper.  Her grades continue to be mediocre: 
when she took the "Astro 101" course here, she could do no 
better than a "C" (which surprised the heck out of her and 
me and everyone else who knew her).

  I have talked to Jill about her schoolwork and her 
choices. It appears to me that Jill will probably not 
succeed in the typical physics major track here -- in my 
opinion, because she is just doing too many other things 
outside the classroom. I have suggested to her that, while 
she might not do very well in the typical curriculum (which 
at our school is intended for students who plan to go to 
grad school in physics), that doesn't mean that she's a 
failure.  Instead, I have tried to stress options which make 
use of her skills dealing with people, and her interest in 
science: science teacher, science journalist, work in a 

  My question to this group is: how can I make suggestions 
like this to a young female student, without destroying her 
interest in science?  Am I doing great harm by pointing out 
that, if she continues in her present course, she probably 
won't earn her degree in physics?  What kind of advice can I 
give her?  It strikes me that "drop all that other stuff and 
spend more time studying" sounds harsh -- heck, it is harsh 
-- but I don't see any other way that she can raise her 
grades in physics.  On the other hand, how different is that 
from "if you want tenure, don't have kids?"

  Please, can you suggest ways to deal with this situation 
in a constructive manner?

2. The female-lunar connection??
From: Lynda Williams

I know this is going to sound terribly unscientific, BUT, I 
have always wondered why it is that women menstruate with 
approximately the same period as the period of Moon's orbit 
about the Earth? Is it a coincidence? Or is there some 
evolutionary basis for it - such as, that during the watery 
stage of our evolution the tides had some effect on the 
development of our bodies? Is there some compelling reason 
why we menstruate approx. every 28 days? Has anyone heard 
ANY theory, scientific or pseudoscientific on this? I have a 
hard time believing that it is mere coincidence and yet I'm 
hesitant, being the good skeptic I am, to jump to any 


Editor's Note:  I asked one of our biologists about this and 
she replied:
"There are definitely lunar rhythms and tidal rhythms in 
some animals.  If everyone was tied in to the moon then 
there would be a run on Tampons at the same time of the 
month.  This doesn't happen.  No one has really fixed on the 
28 day cycle and related it to the lunar calendar.  However, 
there is anecdotal evidence that more babies are born at the 
full moon (ask any obstetrician) and more people with mental 
problems seem to react at the full moon, hence the word 
'lunatic'.  My friend who works in the courts will attest to 
this.  She hates the Monday after a full moon."

3.  Job Notices
From: Patricia Reiff

Tenure-track positions in Astrophysics and Computational 
Space Plasma Physics

Rice University has three tenure track faculty positions 
open - two in astrophysics (with a preference to high energy 
and/or theoretical work), and one in computational space 
plasma physics. One of the astrophysics positions may be at 
the Associate level.  For more information please see the 
web site
....Patricia Reiff, Chair, Space Physics & Astronomy

From:	Women in Physics []

Expected Tenure track position in Astronomy or Astrophysics 
(Probable), Department of Physics and Astronomy, University 
of South Carolina Rank: Assistant Professor Salary: Level 
will depend upon the applicant's experience and 
qualifications Applications and nominations should be 
received before April 15. The position will remain open 
until it is filled or until April 15. Applicants should have 
an established research record and post-doctoral experience 
or its equivalent and are expected to be active in research. 
The research interests of faculty currently on the staff can 
be found on the WEB at  
Applicant is initially responsible for instruction in a two 
semester astronomy course for non-science majors in the 
South Carolina Honors College. In addition, the applicant, 
in the future, would be responsible for supervising the 
instructors in our large enrollment self-paced introductory 
astronomy courses for non-science majors.  Details of both 
of these courses and the other astronomy offerings are on 
the WEB at .  The University of 
South Carolina is an equal opportunity/ Affirmative 
Action/equal access employer and especially encourages 
applications from minorities, women, and persons with 
disabilities. Applications should be sent to: 
Prof. John L. Safko, 
Chair of Search Committee 
Dept. of Physics and Astronomy 
University of South Carolina 
Columbia  SC  29208 
Phone:  803/777-6466     
FAX: 803/777-3065 
Astronomy Center
End of CSWA Newsletter of 2/9/2000