Date: Mon, 1 Jul 2002 15:51:38 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: AASWOMEN for June 28, 2002

	AAS Committee on the Status of Women
    Weekly issue of 6/28/2002, ed. by Meg Urry and Patricia Knezek

Eds. note: AASWOMEN will be published less frequently during 
the summer months, as you may have noticed. We aim for an issue
every two or three weeks.

This week's issues:
1. Why science/math majors "leave" the field
2. Web resources for girls interested in astronomy/space
3. "The Helsinki Group on Women and Science": European Union report 
   documents discrimination against women in the sciences
4. Statistics book on women and minorities from the Business Women's Network
5. Book on "Tend and Befriend" instinct (cf. "Fight or Flight")
6. Practical advice on family planning (further discussion
   on careers and families, started in April 12, 2002 issue 
7. Nominations needed for two awards for women in physics

1. Why science/math majors "leave" the field

From: Doug Duncan

It is probably worth reminding people (though many know) that 
there is a wonderful, major study called, "Talking About Leaving"
by Elaine Seymour, University of Colorado, which first (to my 
knowledge) tracked in detail hundreds of science and math majors
and found our, FROM THEM, why they did or didn't stay with
their major. It explodes as myths many of the arguments I'd heard
for years about who did or didn't make it in physics and why.

Seymour is a very insightful and interesting researcher.
The book is available from the publisher, 
Westview Press,  1-800 386-5656.

[Ed. note: One of the most interesting findings is that the
grades of students who leave science majors are indistinguishable
from the grades of those who stay. In other words, the long-held
belief that difficult science courses "weed out" the weaker 
students and yield "the cream" is a myth.]

2. Web resources for girls interested in astronomy/space

From: "Heidi B. Hammel"

Since we are often asked about resources for girls interested
in astronomy/space, I wanted to share two more that I just
stumbled across that were new to me, and perhaps new to some
of you. Is someone collecting these somewhere?  Interesting
that both are ".com" sites.

A book series called "Cool Careers for Girls".  Features a
variety of career choices, including "Air and Space" (where
astronomy appears).

The "Girls Can Do" web site has a "sci-tech" section which has
"astronomy" and "physical sciences"

3. "The Helsinki Group on Women and Science": European Union report 
   documents discrimination against women in the sciences

[Eds.: This notice came to our attention from a number of sources;
a notice about the associated conference in Madrid was sent by 
Samantha Osmer]

A report just published by the European Commission establishes for 
the first time the situation of women scientists in 30 European 
countries. The report was presented at an international meeting 
on "Women and Science: promoting women in the scientific sector," 
held in Madrid on June 5, 2002.

The full report can be found at

From the press release:

The report, prepared by a group of national representatives known as the
"Helsinki Group on Women and Science," compiles national statistical
profiles which are rich data sources showing scientifically how
sex-segregation is a feature of scientific careers in all the countries,
although there are variations in the specificity of patterns. There is
considerable wastage of women's skills and knowledge as a result of the
leaky pipeline, whereby women drop out of scientific careers in
disproportionate numbers at every level. Broadly, women now constitute
the majority of undergraduates overall. Although they remain a minority
in some science subjects and in engineering, they are in the majority in
medical and biological sciences. The nearer the top of the academic
hierarchy, the lower the proportion of women. Indeed, universally, women
are just a tiny minority of people in top scientific jobs.

Said Research Commissioner Philippe Busquin: "The data demonstrate that
women scientists are indeed underrepresented in the key positions of
scientific research. This confirms that the picture painted in
preliminary studies is not an emotional one, but the result of
discrimination arising from multiple factors. These need to be addressed
if we are to improve the position and role of women in scientific
research, and hence reinforce the European Research Area."

"No statistics, no problem, no policy. Statistics help identify problems
and can monitor the effectiveness of remedies", said Hilary Rose. Now,
for the first time, we have the data.

Since the last decade, concern is growing at European Union (EU) level
about the issue of women and science, and more specifically, the
under-representation of women in scientific careers. This has prompted
significant and concerted action at transnational level. The European
Commission adopted a Communication in February 1999 setting out an action
plan to promote gender equality in science: Women and science -
Mobilising women to enrich European Research. It also commissioned a
European Technology Assessment Network (ETAN) report on women and science
in the EU.

In 1999, the Council of Research Ministers adopted a Resolution on women
and science inviting Member States to engage in dialogue and exchange
views on national policies, taking into account benchmarking and best practice.

Many Member States and associated countries have instituted positive
action measures to support women and science, ranging from the support to
local initiatives to the systematic integration of gender equality into
all policies and programmes.

The report (see executive summary in annex 1) provides for the first time
a synthesis of all the measures and policies devised and implemented at
local, regional, national and European level to encourage the
participation of women in scientific careers and research. It will
contribute to promote further discussion, dissemination and exchange on
these measures and policies.

4. Statistics book on women and minorities from the Business Women's Network

From the Business Women's Network:

Corporations, public policy organizations, and government agencies 
are constantly releasing new data about women and minorities. 
Women and Diversity WOW! Facts 2002 with new census data is a compilation 
of this data into quick reference areas for anyone in need of the 
latest information about women and minorities and the issues that are
important to them. It includes the latest data, polls, and information 
synthesized into chapters for working women, the women's market, 
entrepreneurs, finance, corporate women, women's organizations and networks,
mentoring, women's conferences and awards, philanthropy and community
involvement, welfare to work, politics, public policy, government, 
international women, job searching and careers, education, the younger 
women's market, gender equity, technology, health, history, sports, and 
an expanded diversity section. It costs $37.90 (per copy, incl. shipping,
with discounts for bulk orders). To order, contact
	Sherrie Jenkins
	Administrative Assistant of Operations
	1990 M Street, NW
	Suite 700
	Washington, DC 20036

5. Book on "Tend and Befriend" instinct (cf. "Fight or Flight")

A new book, The Tending Instinct, by Shelley Taylor (published by Holt)
discusses the role of nurturance in the evolution of human nature. Instead 
of the well-known "fight or flight" instinct, it talks about the "tend and
befriend" tendency of many human beings. The book addresses, among other 
issues, women's coping with stress, the importance of women's friendships, 
and tending in marriage.  A description of the book appears at (enter The Tending Instinct as
title and click "search"). It should be of interest to readers of AASWOMEN.

6. Practical advice on family planning (further discussion
   on careers and families, started in April 12, 2002 issue 

From: Frances Verter>

There is one piece of info missing from all the statistics 
and personal anecdotes: 
How should an individual woman make a personal decision?

Suppose you want to postpone child-bearing.  
But all the scare stories and statistics are making you wonder 
if you will be able to have a child later... 
Is there any way to assess your personal fertility?

Yes there is: Talk to your OB/Gyn or see a fertility doctor
and ask to test your ovarian function.
You can get your FSH (Follicle Stimulating Hormone) level checked
by blood test or you can take the "Clomid Challenge".  It sounds
like a triathalon, but its a series of blood tests drawn over a 
series of days while you are taking the drug Clomiphene Citrate 
to stimulate your ovaries.  

If these tests are normal or above-average, then it is probably
OK to defer child-bearing a few more years (then retest; or retest
sooner if you hit age 40).  There is still no guarantee that your
partner doesn't have low-motility sperm or something else, but 
at least you know the status of your ovaries.

If anything is abnormal in your Clomid Challenge, you should
get more tests to find out why and seriously reconsider your 
family planning schedule.

I hope this is concrete advice that helps somebody.

However, I want to stress that fertility is only the beginning
of the process of raising children as an older mother.
One thing I have noticed is that many of the professional women
who are postponing childbearing until near age 40 are themselves
the child of a conventional younger mother.  How many of you are,
like me, the 2nd generation of delayed childbearing?  My mother is
almost 82 and my youngest child is almost 2.

In the second generation, the result of delayed childbearing is 
grandchildren who will never have much interaction with their
grandparents.  My father didn't live to see any of my children.
My mother is too frail to babysit my kids for even a short time, 
and I don't expect her to live long enough to see my younger kids 
hit puberty.  In fact, I can't be sure I will live long enough to
know any of my blood grandchildren.  (I hope to have step-grandkids 
within the next few years.)  In my mind, the loss of these 
inter-generational connections is very sad.  
Despite my above-average fertility (I had two babies in my 40's) 
I regret not having started a family at a younger age.


Dr. Frances Verter                        office 301-614-6256
NASA/GSFC Data Assimilation Office        FAX    301-614-6297

"Life is what happens while you were busy making other plans"
                                               -- John Lennon
7. Nominations needed for two awards for women in physics

[Eds.: From time to time we will publicize the opportunity to 
nominate women for an award in astronomy or related fields of
interest to this readership. The facts are that (1) most awards 
are seriously undersubscribed, and (2) women get fewer than 
their "share" of awards. This suggests it is both important, 
and effective, to nominate women. We hope these postings will
stimulate nominations that will lead to more science awards for
women, which will enhance the careers of those women and will
inspire later generations of women scientists.]

*** L'Oreal Award for Women in Condensed Matter Science ***

  A new program of major awards for women in the "Sciences of Condensed 
  Matter" is being sponsored by L'Oreal, a French cosmetics firm, 
  in close collaboration with UNESCO and Director General Matsuura. 
  There will be 5 awards of $100,000 each, targeted to each of 5 
  different geographical regions: Europe, Asia (Oceania and Pacific), 
  Latin America, Africa, and North America (Canada and US). The IUPAP 
  (International Union of Pure and Applied Physics) may nominate physicists 
  from each region. Nominations are due at L'Oreal by August 15, 2002. 
  The IUPAP Council will have final say on which nominations get 
  submitted officially from IUPAP.
  The program has existed for some time but previously has only gone to 
  women in the Life Sciences. There is a website at: 
  but it only describes the Life Sciences award program. Awards are based 
  on the "Discovery" or "Improvement" of something.  This must be described 
  and justified in a short paragraph. The selection jury will be chaired 
  by Professor de Gennes, who received the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1991. 
  Nominations should be sent to Judy Franz, IUPAP Associate Secretary General,
  by July 22. They should include:
      1. Curriculum Vitae of the candidate
      2. A list of her publications
      3. One reprint each of her five most important papers
      4. A summary (in English, maximum 5 typed pages) of her qualifications, 
         essential scientific achievements, and contributions.

*** Katherine E. Weimer Award for Plasma Science (Early Career) ***

From: Dr. Martha H. Redi

  In 2001, the American Physical Society Division of Plasma Physics
  Executive Committee authorized the Katherine E. Weimer award to
  "recognize and encourage outstanding achievement in plasma
  science research by a woman physicist in the early years of her
  career". Dr. Katherine E. Weimer was a pioneering, research
  physicist at the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory at Princeton
  University. More details about the Weimer Award may be found at
  ( The first Weimer Award will be
  presented at the next annual Divisional meeting, in Orlando in 
  November 2002.
  The Division of Plasma Physics has established this award to
  recognize the contributions and potential of women in plasma
  science and to attract and retain talented women in our field, which
  has a significantly lower representation of women in its ranks
  compared to other divisions, 4% vs. 8%.
  The Division has taken the leadership in establishing this award and
  has agreed to provide half of the total endowment sought, $30,000.
  The other half should be raised by contributions of the plasma
  science community. The Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory has
  been charged with the task of coordinating this effort. We
  encourage all members of the Division to contribute to this award.
  Contributions are fully tax-deductible. A check made out to 
  APS-DPP, with a memo that it is for the Katherine E. Weimer Award
  should be mailed to
	Katherine E. Weimer Award
	c/o Dr. J. Manickam
	Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory
	P. O. Box 451, MS#29
	Princeton, NJ 08543-0451