Date: Mon, 18 Mar 2002 15:03:08 -0500 (EST)
Subject: AASWOMEN for March 15, 2002

AAS Committee on the Status of Women
Weekly issue of 03/15/02, eds. Meg Urry & Patricia Knezek

This week's issues:

1. Call for nominations for the first Katherine Weimer Award
2. Maria Mitchell Women in Science Award
3. Racism and gender bias in the UK
4. Physics World: special issue on Women in Physics
5. Physics World cover story: women in physics -- A commentary
6. NASA Partnership to benefit women in science and technology
7. Request for information on astronomy misconceptions or gender differences
8. theWoman Astronomer
9. Small physics department to close?
10. New from AAAS, "Roadmaps & Rampways"
1. Call for nominations for the first Katherine Weimer Award
>From WIPHYS posting of 03/11/02:

The Division of Plasma Physics is pleased to announce the
establishment of a new DPP award, the Katherine E. Weimer
Award, and to call for nominations for the 2002 award. Its purpose
is to recognize and encourage outstanding achievement in plasma
science research by a woman physicist in the early years of her
career. The award consists of $2,000 and funds for travel to the
meeting where the award is to be made, as well as a certificate
citing the contributions made by the recipient. The recipient will be
invited to give a talk at the meeting. The award is to be presented
every three years.

The award is named after Dr. Katherine Weimer (1919-2000), a
pioneering woman physicist at the Princeton Plasma Physics
Laboratory. Dr. Weimer made many important contributions to
understanding magnetohydrodynamic equilibrium and stability
theory for magnetically confined plasmas.

This award is to be presented to a woman plasma scientist during
the early years of her career for scientific achievements that
demonstrate her potential as an outstanding plasma physicist. The
award is open to any female plasma scientist. The nominee's PhD
must have been received within the ten-year period prior to the
nomination deadline. Nominations are active for one selection cycle
(three years). The nomination guidelines follow the standard APS
guidelines (available at
The nomination deadline for 2002 is May 1, 2002.

Nomination packages for 2002 should be sent to the chair of the
award committee, at:
Gail Glendinning
Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, L-021
7000 East Ave.
Livermore, CA 94550
Fax: 925-423-8945

2. Maria Mitchell Women in Science Award

>From AAS Newsletter of March 2002

Since 1998, the Maria Mitchell Association has offered an annual award to
recognize an individual, program, or organization that encourages the
advancement of girls and women in the natural and physical sciences, 
mathematics, engineering, computer science and technology.  An award of
$10,000 is given to one individual, program or organization from the US
each year.  The nomination deadline is Monday, 30 April 2002 (postmark
date).  For complete information see:

3. Racism and gender bias in the UK

>From WIPHYS posting of 03/12/02:

For those of you who have not yet seen it, the article below is a
interesting take on racism (and gender bias) in science in the UK
and elsewhere. 

Eliza I Stefaniw

4. Physics World: special issue on Women in Physics
From:  Valerie Jamieson

We are delighted to make a selection of the articles in the March issue of
Physics World magazine available online:

* Turning women in leaders by Katharine Gebbie of NIST
* Mixing motherhood and science by Gillian Gehring of Sheffield University
* Physics needs women (
* Liberte, egalite and fraternite (
* Learning lessons from the classroom

We hope you enjoy reading them and will link to them from your own homepage.

Best wishes
Katie Pennicott (Editor, PhysicsWeb)
Valerie Jamieson (Features Editor, Physics World)

5. Physics World cover story: women in physics -- A commentary
From:  Michael Rupen  

[Eds. note:  This is somewhat lengthy, but very informative and interesting,
and we hope will stimulate some responses, so we are publishing it in its 

  The cover story of the March 2002 issue of Physics World (roughly the British
equivalent of Physics Today) is "Women in Physics," sparked by the Paris
conference on that subject (7-9mar02). There are a number of good summary
articles, with useful pointers to several Web sites I'd not come across
before, and a shorter but interesting list of related books and articles.
This and previous issues may be found (without a subscription, huzzah!) at

The lead editorial is also devoted to arguing that there should be more
women in physics :) As an aside, many of the authors are actually
Americans, and they refer to a disproportionate number of astronomers.

The articles put the stress a little differently from many I've seen (I've
left out many points that come up rather more frequently, e.g. two-body
problem, leaky pipeline, gosh the Dutch aren't all that progressive):

  * most women they spoke with were more heavily influenced by their
    parents than by their teachers; most did not have mentors or role
    models, and very few benefited from schemes designed to encourage women
    in physics. Unfortunately none of this is quantified, and the last
    point in particular is not very clear (were there no such opportunities
    available at the time? or did the successful women already among the
    top few per cent who did not need to take advantage of them? etc.).
    The first part is presumably a re-statement of "daughters of
    physicists are more likely to become physicists," but I'm interested in
    how much various programs have helped (or not).

  * Katherine Gebbie's arguments for change are an interesting variation
    on some common themes:
    1- health of physics as a field: draw on a wider pool of talent
    2- equity: science is a lot of fun; women should be allowed to fully
    3- scientifically literate society requires the _entire_ population
      to understand and value science
    It's a very nice and concise argument, well worth reading.

  * A couple interesting numbers on the motherhood front (Gehring's
    - 9 of 15 female physics professors in the UK have children
    - ...but the media focus on female scientists who feel children
      are incompatible with top-notch scientific achievement (some
      depressing examples are cited)
    - a high fraction of female academic scientists in the UK have children
      only after getting permanent jobs (presumably other don't because by
      then they no longer can)
    - "women who have science or engineering degrees and have school-age
      children are less likely to work than women with other degrees"
      [not a statistic I'd seen before -- any comments?]
    Catherine Cesarsky (in a later article, p. 31) points out though that
      "In physics you are much more in control of your time and have much
       more flexibility than women in many other jobs."

  * ...and a few points from Jamieson's article (p. 34):
    - physicists should be more fashion conscious, since girls in one
      anecdotal report spent more time laughing at a lecturer's clothing
      than listening to what she said. [I'd be fascinated to hear other
      peoples' takes on this; my immediate reaction is not very positive,
      but I've not hung out with teenagers for many years now...]
    - Beverly Hartline (deputy director at Argonne Nat'l Lab) stresses
      that one should go after parents as well. For example, Averil
      Macdonald (of "flashy cars for physics" fame) organized a
      women-and-daughters day at school; next year "the girls
      in her A-level class outnumbered the boys for the fist time."

  * Several articles mentioned the Daphne Jackson Trust, which
    I confess I'd never heard of. It "offers fellowships that allow women to
    work part-time for up to two years", and currently funds ~20 fellows in
    science and engineering. The emphasis is on re-training as well as
    part-time work, to allow women time to come back to a field (or enter a new
    one) after taking a career break for family reasons.

Overall it's a pretty good quick summary, and it's a pleasure to see the
issue presented so prominently. I can't recall Physics Today ever doing
this; a quick search on their Web site turned up a few book reviews and the
occasional letter on the subject, but nothing more substantive. Or perhaps
I was just asleep when I received that particular journal.



6. NASA Partnership to benefit women in science and technology
From: Lynn Scholz

[Eds. note:  For full information on this partnership, please see the NASA
Ames press release at: ]

Striving to increase the participation of women in science and
technology, NASA officials today announced the formation of a new
partnership with the National Center for Women in Science,
Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM).

A non-profit organization, the National Center for Women in STEM was
established in 2001 to provide opportunities for synergy and
collaboration in order to increase the impact of organizations and
individuals working to advance women and girls in science,
technology, engineering and mathematics. 

Working with NASA scientists and engineers, the organization plans to
create new educational programs, focusing on curriculum enhancement,
faculty/teacher development, and continuing and higher education
opportunities for women and girls.

The agreement also calls for providing increased opportunities and
resources for research in information science and technology, and
product and technology development. 

NASA's goal is to develop portions of Moffett Field into the NASA
Research Park (NRP), in association with academia, industry and
non-profit organizations. Located in the heart of Silicon Valley,
the NRP is being developed under the NASA Ames Development Plan.

Information about the National Center for Women in STEM is available
on the web at:

Information about the NASA Research Park can be found at:

Information about women's contributions to the NASA legacy is
available on the web at:

7. Request for information on astronomy misconceptions or gender differences
From: Betsy Miller

Hi, my name is Betsy Miller. I am an undergradute at the University of
Maryland and am comnducting my honors research under Grace Deming about
the differences between men and women's ideas of cosmology and the
structure of the Universe. I have interviewed 10 men and women, some who
have taken an introductory astronomy course (non-science majors) and some
who have not yet taken the course. My results have been very interesting
so far, but I am having trouble finding other research materials on the
subject. I found your website and I would love any suggestions you can
give me. I am basically looking for any research regarding either
astronomy misconceptions, or gender differences. Preferably the research
would be conducted on people like my subjects, non-science majors entering
college. Any point in the right direction would be great.


Betsy Miller

8. theWoman Astronomer
From: Debra Davis

theWoman Astronomer has a new Web site and you are invited to visit to see the changes! Please be sure to check out 
the "Women Astronomers" page (the first of many to come). 
And, you are cordially invited to become a part of making the best resource on the Web for women astronomers, 
professional and amateur alike. (You can't beat the domain name!) With your 
help, will be "a place to call home" for women 
astronomers all over the world.
The site has had over 5,500 visitors since it went live on the Web the first 
of the year, so I hope you will help! Suggestions you may have for relevant 
links to add (such as your own) would be most appreciated, as would your 
comments on ways to improve the site. Please email me at And, should you feel the urge to be a 
contributor...well, you'd have my heartfelt gratitude, multiplied by that 
from a whole lot of women astronomers the world over.
Thank you for your help in the past and for your continued support in the 
Clear skies,
Debra L. Davis
theWoman Astronomer

9. Small physics department to close?

>From WIPHYS posting of 03/15/02:

To whom it may concern,

My name is Ruth A. Juarez and I am currently a student of Physics
at New Mexico Highlands University. Our interim president is
planning to remove my major from the books due to fiscal issues
that this department does NOT impact. I am writing to you in
hopes that you might know who can help us. We are a very
small department as we have only 9 majors and 11 minors. This is
my junior year but I would have to relocate with my 3 teenage sons
if he is successful. Please let me know if there is avenue I can
follow to stop this from happening.
Thank you for your attention. 
Department of Physics 
New Mexico Highlands University 
Las Vegas, New Mexico 87701

10. New from AAAS, "Roadmaps & Rampways"

>From WIPHYS posting of 03/14/02:

"Roadmaps & Rampways chronicles the journeys of three dozen
students from childhood to higher education in science,
engineering, or mathematics, and on through their early career
decisions. Each had a significant disability. When they were born,
or became disabled, few of their doctors, educators, or neighbors
could have imagined that their journeys would be so successful."