Date: Sat, 21 Sep 2002 21:38:32 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: AASWOMEN for September 20, 2002

AAS Committee on the Status of Women 
AASWOMEN Weekly issue of Sept. 20, 2002, 
eds. Meg Urry, Patricia Knezek, & Michael Rupen

This week's issues:

1. Three other views of the impact of pregnancy on a woman's career
2. BEST To Present First Progress Report, Sept. 26, Washington, DC
3. Interesting letters in September Physics Today
4. A Responsibility to Awe by Rebecca Elson
5. Response to: Stories solicited for Notes from a Life
6. Tomassoni Awards for Outstanding Achievements in Physics
7. Call for Mentors
8. Address Changes for CSWP Gazette
9. Tenure-track faculty position in experimental physics at Franklin and 
   Marshall College
10. Faculty position at Ohio State University
11. Tenure Track Position in Physics, California State University, Chico
12. Postdoctoral Fellow at the Center for Cosmological Physics at The 
    University of Chicago

1. Three other views of the impact of pregnancy on a woman's career

From: Susan Simkin

This refers to the 09/06/02 AASWOMEN issue that published K.D. Leka's view 
of the impact of adoption versus birth on the careers of women.

I have tried to keep out of the AASWOMEN conversations for fear I might be 
"too political" but feel I should add my experiences about "careers" and 
having children. I have 2 points:

1. Children are something you SHOULD have if you WANT them and SHOULD NOT 
HAVE if you do not.

My experience has been very positive (having children). It really did not
limit my "career" because at the time I had them married women DID NOT HAVE
careers. (Vera Rubin falls in this time-frame also!) They did in some sense
limit my later "career choices" - but not intrinsically - just because of
the way my male colleagues PERCEIVED ME (as a mother).

Being a well-read scientist, I knew early on that the best time (biologically) 
to have kids is between 25 and 30 and timed it that way. I probably would 
have had at least one even if I had had to have it "out of wedlock" - but
fortunately for my kids that was not necessary.

Yes having children is "messy" and time-consuming - but if you are young 
enough you learn to be flexible and set priorities and in the long run this 
helps the rest of your life (including doing Astronomy!) I submit that any 
"brain dead" feelings you might have are from lack of sleep - and this 
problem needs to be managed along with the rest of the "messy" aspects of 
child bearing and child rearing.

The key, I believe, is to WANT to do it AND be young enough (that probably
means wanting children more than wanting to do things "right" - however
"right" is defined by your generation.)

2. I have found that a much more limiting "life cycle experience" has been
caring for ailing parents. In this situation you really have your choices
set by others (once you have made the choice not to dump your parent on the
"system" and let them die alone.) The entire medical histrionic drama which
is endemic in our culture (which identifies old age and dieing as a "medical
problem" not a fact of life) is imposed on you UNLESS you can find a nursing
home which can deal with the problems of the elderly with common sense and
compassion. Finding the latter is probably about as difficult as an
aristocratic women in the mid 1800s finding a medical man to help with
childbirth in a way which involved compassion and common sense.

I suggest that one of the reasons we CAN discuss the pros and cons of having
children is that we now have at least some sensible medical information and
help with childbirth (although less, I am afraid, about the equally simple
problems of nursing a child.)

Susan Simkin

From:  Anonymous [by editorial decision; see end of this submission]

I'd like to reply to the letters from Rubin and Leka giving very different 
views of pregnancy. My partner has been pregnant for the last two months. She 
is a physician active in research, so I have gotten a pretty nuanced view of 
her personal experience, and of what is known about the effects of pregnancy.
She herself has felt nauseous virtually every moment she hasn't been asleep 
for the last month, and has been sleeping as much as fourteen hours a day when 
she can. She describes her experience now as being different from the fatigue 
of residency because when she tries to perform technical work she feels worse,
because of the nausea, rather than feeling more awake, as she did during
residency. It is also clear that these reactions are extremely idiosyncratic. 
Some women do experience pregnancy as Rubin did, with no significant mental 
impairment, while others have very substantial effects, as Leka and my partner 
have, that in fact can last the entire nine months of the pregnancy (although 
for most these symptoms are reduced after the first three months, as we are 
very much hoping will happen in my partner's case). This matters a great deal! 
My partner is in the medical equivalent of a postdoctoral research position, 
where not being able to work in the lab could put a pretty substantial crimp
in her possibilities for pursuing a research career in the future. She's
been barely managing half days most of the time for the last month, with at 
least another month to go, if not more.

Even in relatively enlightened circumstances where the need for time off
after childbirth is well recognized, it doesn't seem to me widely recognized 
that some women (not all, clearly) will already be drastically impacted only
a month or two after conception. I certainly didn't really understand this 
ahead of time. Our planning was based in part on the assumption that I could 
put extra effort into childcare and housework after the birth to allow her 
research to move forward, as I'm already in a tenured research position. 
Perhaps naively, I did not foresee the possibility that she'd be simply 
knocked out of circulation for months at a time already only a few months 
after conception, where no amount of support can really make much of a 

The larger message I've drawn from this experience is that there really
needs to be even more of an effort made to formalize the idea that pauses in 
careers will happen, and need to be accounted for in a non-prejudicial way. 
That this can be done is clear: in most countries at one time or another, 
every man has had an enforced year or two pause in their education and career 
while they serve as draftees in the armed forces. This somehow is never seen 
as a huge hindrance to men working in research careers. The same needs to be
true for pregnancy and childbirth, another dangerous service to society.

(I've asked that this be published anonymously, only because I don't want to 
publically announce that my partner is expecting while the embryo is still 
so young and uncertain.)

From: Johannes Andersen

I can only second Vera Rubin's comment on the contribution saying women go 
brain dead during pregnancy. Sure, people are different, few of us are Vera 
Rubins, and I have the wrong gender to give an 'inside' opinion. But I am an
observer of many stars and three pregnancies, and I too found the statement
to be utter nonsense. 

Busy people cope with more, and this is nowhere more true than of mothers. If 
you are a lowlander preferring not to have your mental concentration disturbed 
by physical discomfort, I would discourage seven-week observing runs at 
8,000 ft in the best Chilean season, but that is a different issue. The key is 
focusing on what you want to accomplish, not on how you might possibly feel 
(for all of us).

With best regards,
Johannes Andersen

2. BEST To Present First Progress Report, Sept. 26, Washington, DC

From WIPHYS posting of 09/19/02:

If you are in Washington, DC, Building Engineering and Science Talent
(BEST) is holding a reception (6-7 pm, Sept. 25) and hearing (8:15-11:15
am) on Capitol Hill to present its first progress report. BEST has
engaged more than 125 nationally recognized experts to identify promising
initiatives that warrant the attention of Congress. A lineup of national
leaders will share BEST?s initial findings: Dan Arvizu, chair of the
Hispanic Engineering Hall of Fame; Al Berkeley, vice-chairman of the
NASDAQ; Rita Colwell, director of NSF; Marye Anne Fox, chancellor, NC
State University; and Shirley Ann Jackson, president of RPI. For details,
please contact John Yochelson, directly.

BEST is a public-private partnership mandated by Congress to implement the
recommendations of the Congressional Commission on the Advancement of
Women and Minorities in Science, Engineering and Technology (CAWMSET).

3. Interesting letters in September Physics Today
From: Meg Urry

The September 2002 Physics Today has two interesting letters responding to 
the articles on the Women in Physics conference last March.

One describes parallel efforts by women in meteorology and hydrology, and 
mentions the WMO (World Meteorological Organization) sponsored 2nd conference 
on Women in Meteorology, 24-27 March 2003.

The other is a heart-breaking letter from a current undergraduate physics 
major, who describes the kind of, forgive me, crap, that is still going on
in high-school math classes and guidance offices. Geez! You think that stuff 
is over, that people know better, but I guess they don't. In any case, it's 
nice to see that this particular woman has landed on her feet, finding her 
way back to physics despite plenty of bad guidance.


4. A Responsibility to Awe by Rebecca Elson
From: Michael Fall


This is a recommendation of the recently published book A Responibility 
to Awe by Rebecca Elson. 

Becky was an astronomer known for her studies of star clusters, especially 
the rich clusters in nearby galaxies such as the Magellanic Clouds. She 
worked at Cambridge, STScI, Princeton, Harvard, and then again at Cambridge,
and did her PhD with me. She died in 1999 after a long illness at the age of

The book is a collection of poems, notes, and essays.  Many of these 
convey her perceptions as a scientist and the fascinating connections she 
found between her science and the rest of her abundant life. Some of these 
pieces are quite moving. 

The book is part of the Oxford Poets series, now published by Carcanet 
Press, and is available in paper-back for $10 from Amazon.

Michael Fall

5. Response to: Stories solicited for Notes from a Life
From: Dimitri Mihalas

[Eds. note:  This letter refers to the request in the 09/13/02 AASWOMEN 
newsletter for experinces about how frustrating it can still be to be a woman 
in science, to be printed in STATUS.]

Reading it through, I had an idea: sometimes "positive" press works as well 
as "negative" press.

Specifically, the newsletter asks for information concerning negative
incidents in advancement, research (like the predatory thesis advisor who 
always puts his name on the thesis research when published, preferably FIRST), 
etc etc. We know they happen and they should be exposed!! However, maybe we 
can use some positive role models for the (majority) male community. It's a 
case of the old "cooked spaghetti" game, where the participant is given a 
3-foot long piece of cooked spaghetti, and told to move THAT end by pushing 
THIS end. We know what happens: you get a lot of interesting convolutions in
between, but NEVER move the other end. LEADERSHIP pays off more than bullying.
We want males to LEAD other males into constructive roles with respect to 
women students/researchers/colleagues! So we could stand to hear about cases 
of really GOOD mentoring of women by a male advisor that leads to successful
research and an outstanding thesis, hence a good job. We could stand to hear
about people who write the solid, positive letters that lead to promotion. 

I know that when I served on appointment committees (most of my professional 
life) I always had a bias in favor of women candidates.  My observation is 
that a woman at a given level in grad study (including the raw applicants) is 
invariably BETTER than her average male counterpart.  She had had to EXCEL 
all the way up the selection ladder, work harder, be more committed, and, 
probably, have more brains. There are, of course, exceptions. I have ALWAYS 
voted for women to get promotion if a credible case can be made, and have 
ALWAYS voted for choosing the woman candidate for a job, assuming minimum
qualifications, because I knew that they would work like hell to do the job, 
and do it well.  I know of only ONE exception to my bias, who I supported, 
got the opportunities, but in the end, did not come through, and washed out.
I cannot count the number of males I have seen in that undistinguished 

Likewise I always vote for women candidates for the NAS because I know that 
they MUST be head-shoulders-navel-and kneecaps above their male counterparts
to even be on the list. Vera is an excellent example, and her story tells it
all! What serendipity it should appear in the same edition. I don't do these
things for idealistic reasons, but simply because I have OBSERVED the bias 
against women, and I KNOW how hard they must work, and how good they must be, 
merely to get through the system.

OK. To specifics. I think it would be a very fruitful thing to report any 
well-documented examples of successful mentoring (undergrad, grad, thesis work) 
of female astronomers by male sponsors. That would do two things: 1) it could 
steer nascent women astronomers to those people, or to people who show the 
same characteristics; 2) it could put some male-male peer pressure on the 
misogynists who DON'T even try to understand the situation women astronomers 
are in. Further, it could even provide role models for MALES, who could, if 
they would, learn what is really needed to be able to tap into the brainpower 
of 50% of our population.

One more thing: There are a LOT of very successful women astronomers out there 
today, doing outstanding research. Given the bias in the old boy system, they 
get very little recognition. But many of the research teams on the large space
telescopes have women in leadership positions or even as principal 
investigators. Let's get some brief bios of these people!

All best wishes,


[STATUS Eds. reply: Excellent ideas! We'd love to have positive stories
of all kinds, especially concrete examples of successful mentoring of women,
whether by male or female mentors. Send your input to STATUS editors or 
to AASWOMEN, whichever you prefer. Info about both submitting and/or 
subscribing to both publications can be found at ]

6. Tomassoni Awards for Outstanding Achievements in Physics

From WIPHYS posting of 09/20/02:

To honour the memory of Mrs. Caterina Tomassoni and Dr. Felice Pietro Chisesi, 
two prizes are awarded to recognize and encourage outstanding achievements in 
physics. The prizes will be assigned without regard for the nationality of the 
awardee or the geographical site at which the work was accomplished. 

1) A prize titled "Premio Felice Pietro Chisesi e Caterina Tomassoni" will be 
presented on March 17th, 2003, at the University of Roma "La Sapienza". The 
prize consists of Euro 25,000, of an allowance for travel to the awarding 
ceremony, and of a certificate citing the contributions made by the recipient. 

2) A prize titled "Premio Caterina Tomassoni e Felice Pietro Chisesi" will be 
presented on April 7th, 2003, at the University of Roma "La Sapienza". The 
winners will be announced on December 2nd 2002.

Anyone (not a member of the committee making the selection) may submit one 
nomination or seconding letter for each of the two prizes. A nomination should 
- A letter of not more than 1,000 words wich presents the nominee
  and illustrates the specific work to be recognized. This letter is
  considered the nomination"application"
- A biographical sketch (optional).
- A list of the most important publications (optional).
And be addressed to Commissione Premi Tomassoni, Department of Physics, 
University of Rome "La Sapienza" P.le Aldo Moro 2, I-00185 Roma (Italy) or 
sent by email to: 

To learn about the 2003 selection committee, previous recipients of the prize 
and motivation see: 

7. Call for Mentors

From WIPHYS posting of 09/20/02:

MentorNet, the electronic one-on-one mentoring network, pairs women 
engineering and science students with professionals all over the world. 
Mentors and students communicate by email about career goals, balancing work 
and life, course work, etc, spending an average of just 20 minutes per week.
Applications are encouraged from both women and men with an educational or 
professional background in engineering, science, or related technologies, who
are currently employed in private industry or government sectors. 

To sign up, go to and Click on "Community" and register/sign 
in as a new/returning Community member. Apply for the One-on-One Program: 
Follow the One-on-One Mentoring Program links to the Mentor section and fill 
out the application.  The deadline is October 31, 2002. Matching starts 
September 15.

Carol Muller, Ph.D.
Founder, President, CEO 

8. Address Changes for CSWP Gazette

From WIPHYS posting of 09/18/02:

Moving? New job? Don't forget to change your address so you won't miss an 
issue of the Gazette, the newsletter of the Committee on the Status of Women 
in Physics. You can do this easily by sending an email with your new 
information to If you don't wish to receive the Gazette any 
longer, we would appreciate knowing that too! The Fall issue of the Gazette
should be available in October. (The guest editor for this issue is Meg Urry.) 
Past issues may be read at 

9. Tenure-track faculty position in experimental physics at Franklin and 
   Marshall College
From: Dana Backman

The Physics and Astronomy Department at Franklin and Marshall College invites
applications for a tenure-track faculty position in experimental physics at 
the rank of Assistant Professor starting in Fall of 2003. Candidates must hold 
the Ph.D. and demonstrate commitment to undergraduate physics teaching, as 
well as to participation in the College's interdisciplinary general education 
program, "Foundations". A vigorous research program that can involve students
in publishable work is also required. Start-up funds to establish a research
lab are available. A complete application must include curriculum vitae, 
statement of teaching philosophy, research plans including a preliminary
budget and description of possible student projects, and copies of both
graduate & undergraduate transcripts. Letters of recommendation (at least 
three) should be sent directly to the address below. Applications should be 
received by December 15, 2002 for full consideration. Franklin & Marshall is
a selective private liberal arts college with 1,850 students located in 
Lancaster, Pennsylvania, a city of 50,000 about 1-1/2 hours from Philadelphia 
and Baltimore. F&M is committed to cultural pluralism through the hiring of 
women and minorities and encourages all interested individuals to apply. 

Attention:Dr. Dana Backman, Chair.
Physics and Astronomy Department
Franklin and Marshall College
P.O. Box 3003
Lancaster, PA 17604-3003

10. Faculty position at Ohio State University
From: Donald Terndrup

The Department of Astronomy at The Ohio State University invites applications 
for a tenure-track Assistant Professor position. Exceptional candidates at 
a more senior level may be considered. The position is contingent on the 
availability of funding. We seek a candidate who will broaden our areas of 
research, connect with our current efforts, and interact well with our
programs. A Ph.D., postdoctoral experience, and a commitment to teaching are 

For full details, see the complete advertisement at

Donald Terndrup
Kristen Sellgren

11. Tenure Track Position in Physics, California State University, Chico

From WIPHYS posting of 09/18/02:

Assistant Professorship available Fall of 2003. Ph.D. or equivalent in 
Physics, Physics Education or a closely related discipline is required.
Teaching duties include introductory and upper-division physics. Preference 
will be given to candidates with evidence of excellence in the teaching of 
physics and expertise in sustaining experimental undergraduate research 
projects in physics including experience in developing funding sources for 
such projects. As a university that educates students of various ethnic and
cultural backgrounds, we value a diverse faculty and staff. CSU, Chico
welcomes applicants who are knowledgeable about and interested in working 
within a crosscultural learning environment. 

Inquiries: Search Committee, Physics Department, CSU, Chico, Chico, CA
95929-0202. (530)898-6259. E-mail: See web site for 
vacancy announcement and application information: 
Deadline: January 6, 2003. CSU, Chico is an EEO/AA/ADA employer.

12. Postdoctoral Fellow at the Center for Cosmological Physics at The 
    University of Chicago
From: Helen Pates

The NSF established the Center for Cosmological Physics (CfCP) at the 
University of Chicago in August 2001. Research at the Center focuses on 
interdisciplinary topics in cosmological physics: characterizing the Dark 
Energy, studying the inflationary era, and understanding the highest energy 
cosmic rays. Studies of the CMB (polarization anisotropies and the 
Sunyaev-Zeldovich effect) and Cosmic Infrared Background; analysis of Sloan 
Digital Sky Survey and other large-scale structure data; high energy 
astrophysics with photons and cosmic rays, direct detection of DM particles 
and numerous topics in theoretical cosmology constitute the current slate of
activities. The CfCP has active visitors, symposia, and education/outreach 

Up to three Fellow positions are now open. Center Fellows have the freedom 
to work on any of the efforts in our Center.
We seek candidates with a recent Ph.D. in physics, astrophysics, or related 
fields, with an interest in pursuing experimental or theoretical 
interdisciplinary research in cosmology. Prior experience in Cosmological 
Physics is not a requirement. Positions are for two years, with possible 
renewal for a third. 

A CV, statement of research interests, and at least three letters of 
recommendation should be sent to or to Bruce 
Winstein, Director, Center for Cosmological Physics, Enrico Fermi Institute,
5640 S. Ellis Avenue, Chicago, IL 60637. Information about the CfCP can be 
found at
Women and minorities are encouraged to apply. The deadline is December 1, 
2002 for positions that will begin in the Summer or Fall of 2003.

Helen Pates
Center for Cosmological Physics
933 East 56th Street
Chicago,IL 60637
773-834-8279 Fax