Date: Sun, 28 Apr 2002 20:25:38 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: AASWOMEN for April 26, 2002

AAS Committee on the Status of Women
Weekly issue of 04/26/02, eds. Meg Urry & Patricia Knezek

This week's issues:

1. More information on fertility
2. And further information on fertility and adoption
3. A British take on Sylvia Hewlett's book about babies vs. careers
4. More on "childless" women
5. A report on the situation of women researchers in France (in French)
6. Article on physicist Joan Feynman
7. Faculty Position in Theoretical High-Energy Physics, University of 
   Connecticut (Storrs)
8. Post-Doctoral Fellow, Department of Psychology, Hunter College 
1. More information on fertility
From: Caroline E. Simpson

More information on Fertility:

The FertilityPlus website is excellent. I learned much from it, and 
when compared to other sources (doctors, books, other websites) I still 
found it the most useful. 

Something to consider also is that you may have other fertility 
problems, not related to age, that become much more difficult to 
overcome when combined with age. I found out, at age 39, that a hormone 
imbalance, when combined with my age, made it essentially impossible 
for me to become pregnant. And my age seriously limited the amount of 
time I could try, using fertility treatments. A double-whammy, so to 

I too, didn't realize just how dramatically fertility decreases with 
age. I had always intended, somewhat vaguely, to have children when 
the time was right. Given my delayed career (Ph.D. at 34) and marriage 
(at 37), the time wasn't right until 39. When it transpired that it was 
pretty much too late. I suspect my experience isn't entirely unique. I 
think it just catches up with a lot of us. As it was, I had intended to 
wait one more year, since I was up for tenure, but my husband gently 
pointed out that I wasn't getting any younger. So I was going through 
tenure and fertility assessment/treatments at the same time. This is 
Not Recommended, by the way. ;)

Some advice: the standard "try for a year" before seeking treatment is 
for those in their 20s. Seriously. If you are in your late 30s or 
older, the advice is to try for 2 or 3 months, and then seek evaluation, 
because the time is so limited. Some of the treatments aren't so bad 
(although most are pretty grueling, and it's all tough emotionally).

I'm 41 now, and still trying to come to terms with never having 
children. If anyone out there is in the same boat, I wouldn't mind 
having people to talk to about it. There seem to be support groups for 
women in treatment, but not for women who have given up. 

Caroline Simpson

2. And further information on fertility and adoption
From: Frances Verter

There is one more point that should be made about the "statistics"
on fertility of women in their 40's:
For the most part, these are NOT UN-BIASED surveys.
The only un-baised info would be the conception rates of women
who DO NOT receive fertility treatments.
The conception rates of women who DO seek treatments are highly
selective, because fertility treatment is more of a business
than a branch of medicine.

To explain: Fertility treatments are very expensive and are not
covered by health insurance. Consequently, doctors in this
business are competing for patients/customers. Each clinic
likes to advertise that they have a high success rate. In order
to achieve and maintain those rates, they only accept patients 
with whom they expect to be successful. Many of them will not
take women over age 42. For example, I have a very wealthy 
friend who has been turned away by numerous doctors because
she is over age 42. She could afford to spend a fortune, but
they still won't treat her unless she takes donor eggs. 
So when you see older celebrities having babies, there's a good
chance its with donor eggs. 

And on the related subject of adoption: 
Yet another reason why couples should find out early if they have
fertility problems is because many adoption agencies will not work 
with older parents either. This is true in both the US and overseas.
For example, to adopt an infant from Columbia, both parents must be 
in their early 30's. Other countries use a formula which combines 
the age of both parents. The older you are, the more your adoption
choices are restricted to older children from fewer countries. 

3. A British take on Sylvia Hewlett's book about babies vs. careers
From: Marek Kukula

I saw the discussion on Sylvia Hewlett's book about babies vs careers. Had 
just been reading an article about this in a British newspaper and thought 
you might be interested:,3604,689521,00.html

Not sure if the suggestion about massive government intervention is particularly 
feasible, but it's an interesting perspective.

4. More on "childless" women
From: Andrea Schweitzer

> In response to Meg Urry's statement from last week's AASWOMEN,
> "For example, in describing the statistics of childless women in
> demanding professions, the unspoken assumption is that those women
> all wanted to have children and could not because they were infertile,
> while in fact, many may have chosen not to have children,"
> Jacqueline Ward> writes:
> I just wanted to point out that [the Time article says]: "But
> Hewlett argues that many other women did not actually choose
> to be childless. When she asked women to recall their intentions
> at the time they were finishing college, Hewlett found that only
> 14% said that they definitely did not want to have children."

I wondered about that, too!

There were 14% who knew themselves well enough at 20 to say that they "definitely 
did not want to have children"??? I couldn't have accurately defined my future 
plans while I was still in college.  Back then, I wanted to do everything!

In college, I wanted to go and get my Ph.D., be an astronaut, wife, mom, professor, 
novelist, plus patent inventions, learn about neuroscience and have plenty of free 
time on the weekends to play.  Needless to say, that hasn't all happened. ;)

According to the boxes I'd check on Hewlett's survey, back in college I was 
planning to have kids, but right now I am 35, never married and childless.  Gee, 
that sounds empty and lonesome, when in fact I'm ok with my choices. (But NOT ok 
with the imbalance science/society places on parenthood vs. careers.) Somehow women 
like me fell between the cracks of Hewlett's analysis.

Ding! That was my patience with simplistic studies running out, not my biological 
clock chiming.

I may be "childless" according to Time Magazine, yet in my life I am surrounded by 

I have as much time with kids as I can handle: my boyfriend has kids, I do childcare 
monthly in my neighborhood, there are always a passle of 3-year-olds to play with 
when my friends have parties, I do astronomy programs in the public schools, and the 
neighbor kids like to hang out by my front porch and talk.

Articles that would reduce me to "35 and unlikely to bear children" miss the point 
about what my life is all about. Sure, it's important to have accurate information 
about your fertility for family planning. But having children in your life is not a 
black and white issue that is set only by a biological clock - there is a whole
spectrum of opportunities to enjoy children.

Cheers, Andrea Schweitzer

P.S. I'd like to see a cover of Time on topics such as:

Do you wish that science/society would provide more options for those who need a 
break from long work hours, such as part-time positions, or the opportunity to get 
back "in" after time "out"? (yes!)

Would you like to see men worrying as much as women do about how to combine careers 
and families? (yes!)

5. A report on the situation of women researchers in France (in French)
From: Regis Courtin

For those who read French and are interested in the situation of women researchers 
in France, here is a link to download a recent (March 2002) report published by 
the Ministry of Research:

     "Les Femmes dans la Recherche Francaise" at

Astronomy and space research are under the denomination "Sciences de l'Univers" in 
the various diagrams. 

6. Article on physicist Joan Feynman
From: Luisa Rebull

Here is a reference to a great article on Joan Feynman, who has just retired
from JPL.,12543,231816,00.html

Dr. Luisa Rebull Staff Scientist, SIRTF Science Center
Caltech M/S 220-6 voice 626-395-4565
1200 E. California Blvd. FAX 626-568-0673
Pasadena, CA 91125

7. Faculty Position in Theoretical High-Energy Physics, University of 
   Connecticut (Storrs)

>From WIPHYS posting of 04/25/02:

The Physics Department of the University of Connecticut solicits applications for 
a tenure-track faculty position in theoretical high-energy physics. The position is 
intended primarily for a junior faculty member at the Assistant Professor level; 
however, exceptional candidates may be considered for a higher level appointment. 
Applicants should have a demonstrated ability to initiate and lead independent 
research, an established record of publications in scientific journals, and strong 
teaching skills. The appointment may be made as early as January 2003. Applications
should be sent, with a CV, a statement of research plans, and letters from at least 
three references, to:

Prof. Gerald Dunne, Chair
High-Energy Theory Search Committee
Department of Physics,
University of Connecticut, Unit 3046
2152 Hillside Rd.,
Storrs, CT 06269-3046

Screening of applicants will commence on August 15, 2002, and will continue until the 
position is filled. The University of Connecticut actively solicits applications from 
minorities, women, and people with disabilities. (Search #02A438)

8. Post-Doctoral Fellow, Department of Psychology, Hunter College 

>From WIPHYS posting of 04/25/02:


 Issue Date: Monday, March 18, 2002
 PVN Number: RMP-147

The Gender Equity Project, beginning 1 June 2002, has the mission of insuring equity 
in the hiring, retention, tenuring, and promotion of men and women scientists at Hunter 
College, and of insuring that men and women scientists benefit equally from resources 
and are recognized equally for their achievements.  Science faculty include those in 
natural science, biological science, social science, computer science, and math. The 
post-doctoral fellows on the project will learn how to evaluate institutions of higher 
education with respect to gender-fair practices and how to develop interventions to 
ensure gender equity in organizations. In collaboration with the project directors, the 
fellows will devise and administer a large number of assessment tools, develop programs
for improving institutional practices in hiring and promoting faculty, and develop 
programs for improving the status of individual women scientists. Via regular laboratory 
meetings with the project directors, the fellows will get a background in and learn how 
to use research from social psychology, organizational change, economic theory, and 
other fields, as well as from material about "best practices", in order to define 
problems and develop effective interventions. In these important positions, the 
Post-Doctoral Fellows will help develop a model for establishing gender equity in

The post-doctoral fellows will work with the project directors to accomplish the 
     * Develop appropriate measures of faculty contributions and administer 
       institutionalization of those measures
     * Develop quantifiable assessments of faculty access to resources such as salary, 
       start-up packages, laboratory and research support; perform assessments; develop 
       a plan for institutionalization of assessments
     * Develop instruments for measuring faculty marginalization and isolation; develop 
       interventions to ameliorate marginalization
     * Develop a sponsorship program for women scientists
     * Develop educational programs for men and women about gender and science
     * Develop workshops and colloquia on gender and science
     * Develop materials and brochures for other institutions to use
     * Develop web-based educational materials for wide dissemination
     * Assist in preparation of progress reports
     * Assist in preparation of grant proposals
     * Ph.D. in physical, biological, life, or social science, or math
     * Interest in a science-based approach to gender and science problems
     * Strong administrative and organizational skills
     * Ability to interact with faculty, post-doctoral fellows, students,
       administrators, funders, and the wider public
     * Ability and willingness to learn computer-assisted packages, including database 
       management and web design
     * Strong writing and communication skills
     * Ability to work as part of a team and to manage independent projects

Salary:$30,000 - $40,000

Review of candidates will begin immediately and continue until the positions are 
filled. To apply, submit a cover letter, curriculum vitae or resume, and the names of 
three (3) references. The cover letter should summarize the candidate's qualifications 
for the position and his or her interest and experience in gender issues.

Dr Virginia Valian or Dr Vita Rabinowitz
Department of Psychology
Hunter College
695 Park Avenue
New York, NY 10021

Open until filled.