Date: Mon, 24 Feb 2003 11:56:29 -0500 (EST)
Subject: AASWOMEN for February 21, 2003

AAS Committee on the Status of Women
Weekly issue of Feb. 21, 2003, eds. Meg Urry, Patricia Knezek, & Michael

This week's issues:

1. Careers for Girls: a pamphlet from the Royal Astronomical Society
2. Does wording of job ads have an effect on applications from women?
3. Librarian tribute
4. GraceNet and the Disgraceful Award in Advertising
5. REU opportunity: summer in China

1. Careers for Girls: a pamphlet from the Royal Astronomical Society
From: Kevin Marvel

[Eds. note: This is a wonderful pamphlet on careers for women in
  astronomy and geophysics, aimed at schoolgirls in the UK. We've put in a
  link on the CSWA home page, and are considering putting together something
  similar with an American slant...]

2. Does wording of job ads have an effect on applications from women?
From: Meghan Gray

Does the wording of job advertisements have an effect on applications
from women?

Recent advertisements for jobs in my department (two at the postdoctoral
level, one at the permanent staff level) have resulted in disappointingly
small numbers of female applicants: the leaky pipeline appears to be in
full force! It seems pretty obvious that proactive steps are required to
increase the diversity of the applicant pool -- and in order to get around
the old excuse that "if they don't apply, we can't hire them".

Off the top of my head I can think of several aspects of the recruitment
process that could be examined and perhaps improved upon: more effective
timing and distribution of the job advert, identification of potential
candidates (and directly encouraging them to apply), etc., and have made
such suggestions to those in charge. But I'm also curious to know if the
wording of job advertisements plays a role.

A quick glance at the AAS job register reveals that most job adverts
contain some clause encouraging applications from women and minorities.
These range from the succinct: "Institute X is EOE/AAE" to the more
elaborate "Institute Y as the employer aims at increasing the number of
female scientists in fields where underrepresented. Therefore, women are
particularly encouraged to apply." Most are some variation along the
lines of "Women and members of minority groups are encouraged to apply" (I
think this may be a federal regulation in the US? It doesn't appear to be
required here in the UK); only a small fraction contain no explicit

Is this an important issue? Obviously it's not likely to have a
make-or-break effect, but does it contribute in any way at all to the
impression one has of an institution as a favourable place to work? In the
present climate, does the *absence* of such a statement speak volumes?
Or, no matter how it is phrased, does it just come across as a politically
correct phrase that is required by university administration but that
carries no real weight? I'd be interested to hear thoughts on this matter.

Meghan Gray
Postdoctoral Fellow
University of Edinburgh

3. Librarian tribute
From: Marlene Cummins

It has come to my attention that a recently published
book is dedicated to a librarian!

The preface states:

"Librarians at traditional observatories are amongst the most helpful
people in assisting scientists and the historians of science. One of the
most eminent librarians is Magda Vargha, who was librarian at Konkoly
Observatory from February 15 1965 till December 31 1999... The Editors
dedicate these Proceedings to this wonderful person."

The book is a history of observational astrophysics and there is a
section devoted to women in astrophysics too.


100 years of observational astronomy and astrophysics : homage to Miklos
  Konkoly Thege 1842-1916 / edited by Christiaan Sterken and John B.

The book is published by C. Sterken and can be purchased for $50 US from him

      Vrije Universiteit Brussel
      Pleinlaan 2
      B-1050 Brussels

  -- Marlene Cummins
     Astronomy and Astrophysics Library
     University of Toronto

4. GraceNet and the Disgraceful Award in Advertising
> From WomenTech Educators 18feb03

[Eds. note: more information is available at the GraceNet home page, ]

Why aren't girls and women more interested in computers? Well some of the
answer has to do with how women are portrayed by the technology industry.

An international women's organization for women in high tech decided to
do something about it. GraceNet (named after Grace Hopper) created the
Disgraceful Award in Advertising and it's made a difference -- two ads
have been withdrawn as a result.

Newhouse News Service ran a great story about the Disgraceful Awards.
"In October, Sylvia Paull was alerted to a billboard on Silicon Valley's
main thoroughfare that used women to illustrate three purchase plans for
a software product: hourly (a hooker in red leather thigh-high boots),
term (a shorts-clad woman poised beside a bicycle), and perpetual (a
bride dressed in white)."

Clearly ads such as these contribute to the negative messages many females
have about technology. Hats off to GraceNet for taking action to stop them.

5. REU opportunity: summer in China
> From WIPHYS Feb. 19, 2003

Dear Physics Faculty,
I am writing to ask your help for recruiting students, especially
girl students, for an excellent international REU opportunity.

My name is Shang-Fen Ren, and I am a professor of Physics at
Illinois State University. I have a program supported by NSF that I
collaborate with Chinese scientists for research, and I take a few
undergraduates with me to China for summer research. In the
summer of 2002, I took six students to the School of Physics at
Peking University for a four week summer research. All
participating students had wonderful research and culture
experience. With the great help from several of you, I could take
equal number of male and female students.

Now I am recruiting students again. My plan this year is to take up
to six students to the School of Physics at Peking University, and
the planned date is May 15 to June 13, 2003. I hope to take equal
number of female and male students, and I hope that you can help
me by informing your students, especially girl students, about this
wonderful opportunity. If the students are interested, they can find
out more information about our previous activities at To apply for the 2003 program,
they can visit the above website by clicking 'Application and
Contact' on the top of the page. The deadline of application this
year is February 28. Thank you for your attention.

    Shang-Fen Ren
    Department of Physics
    Illinois State University
    (309) 438-5246