Date: Mon, 14 Apr 2003 14:58:17 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: AASWOMEN for April 11, 2003

AAS Committee on the Status of Women
Weekly issue of April 11, 2003
eds. Meg Urry, Patricia Knezek, & Michael Rupen

This week's issues:

1. Introductions and the "destatusing" of women
2. 2002 Presidential Awards for Mentors
3. Special Career supplement in Science vol. 300, pg. 165
4. Details on recently published books about Caroline Herschel
5. Interview in Astronomy: "Can minorities break astronomy's glass ceiling?" 
6. Letters of recommendation
7. Producer Seeks Contestants for Discovery Channel Pilot (and a follow-up
8. Faculty Salaries Report from AAUP
9. Visiting Assistant Professor for Astronomy, UNLV
10. Senior Lecturer, Department of Physics, Simon Fraser University

    Women in Astronomy II: Ten Years After
   Pasadena, California June 27 - 28, 2003 

1. Introductions and the "destatusing" of women
From: Linda French

[Eds. note: This refers to the discussion on how to introduce yourself in 
meetings and conferences.  Comments have appeared in the March 21/28, 2003
and April 3, 2003 issues of the AASWOMEN newsletter.]

I read with interest the recent letters from Lucy McFadden and Andrea 
Schweitzer. Having recently attended one of the same meetings Lucy 
attends, I also have recognized the need to introduce myself in a 
polite, yet professional manner. It is interesting (and scary) that 
even we, as women scientists, may make assumptions about the status of 
women which usually underestimate the women.

I noticed something similar last week while I was being introduced as 
the keynote speaker of a nearby regional amateur astronomy club. I had 
written a biographical sketch, which my host (a very friendly and 
supportive man) read verbatim, with one slip. He referred to me as an 
"assistant professor," when I know I typed "associate professor"! I 
decided that saying anything at that point would be counterproductive, 
but I am still shaking my head about it. Perhaps I should have.

These kinds of incidents, to me, are the little things that can sap 
one's confidence at key times. One is left thinking "oh well, it was a 
little thing." But was it? "It was unintentional." Yes, but.... If, 
as Andrea suggested, we sometimes don't present ourselves in our most 
direct, positive, professional manner because we're feeling insecure, 
we only worsen the problem. Unfortunately, it seems there is a deeply 
ingrained tendency of many--even those who consciously support women 
scientists--to "destatus" women and their accomplishments.

Personally, I'm printing up more business cards, practicing that 
handshake, and thinking about how soon I can go up for full professor!

Linda French
Illinois Wesleyan University

2. 2002 Presidential Awards for Mentors
From: Michael Rupen

Dear AASWomen,

  I ran across an article in Nature the other day, on the Presidential 
Awards for Excellence in Mathematics, Science and Engineering Mentoring
(PAESMEM; see I'd never 
heard of these before, but they sound like a great idea! The program
is intended to honor mentors whose efforts expand the number of women, 
minorities, and people with disabilities in science, math, and 
engineering, and the award can go either to individuals or to 
institutions. One of the awards this year for instance went to 
Robert Gray of Stanford's electrical engineering department, who
"has demonstrated a successful model for attracting and accommodating 
women to engineering, actively mentored and encouraged women in their 
pursuit of electrical engineering doctorates, including 11 women doctorate 
students between 1985 and 2001 alone." The awards are for $10,000, and the 
honorees are invited to DC for a ceremony at the White House and various 
workshops related to mentoring under-represented groups.

  The deadline for nominations seems usually to be in February, though
I've not been able to get to the NSF Web site yet to find out the next 

              Michael Rupen

3. Special Career supplement in Science vol. 300, pg. 165
From: Kevin Marvel

A special supplement entitled "Women in European Science" appears in the 
April 4, 2003 issue of Science magazine. Included are highlights from 
several women scientists working in Europe, including one working at ESA.

4. Details on recently published books about Caroline Herschel
From: Marlene Cummins

[Eds. note:  This refers to an announcement in the March 14, 2003 AASWOMEN
newsletter.  If someone is interested in writing a review for one or both
of these books for an issue of the CSWA's bi-annual issue of "STATUS", please
contact Meg Urry at  The review could appear in the
January 2004 issue.]

A brief announcement of these two books appeared in AAS Womens' newsletter a
while ago and I thought I'd inquire, then pass along the details to you.



>From Sat Mar 22 02:45:12 2003

Michael Hoskin. It will be published next month by Science History
Publications Ltd (the publishers of Journal for the History of Astronomy),
16 Rutherford Road, Cambridge CB2 2HH, UK ( It is helpful
to give the address as the firm has no connection with Science History
Publications of the USA. Pp. viii + 182, with 21 illustrations, hardbound.
ISBN 0 905193 05 9. Price outside Europe, US$40 (plus $10 air mail
postage). Publication at the end of April, next month.

The second book is CAROLINE HERSCHEL'S AUTOBIOGRAPHIES, edited by Michael
Hoskin. Publisher, price, and date of publication the same as above. Pp.
viii + 147, with 10 illustrations, hardbound. ISBN 0 905193 06 7.

Thank you for your interest and please contact me if you need any further

Michael Hoskin

>From Sat Mar 22 04:49:29 2003

P.S. My studies of Caroline Herschel are based upon the unique access to
her papers which I had because for many years they were deposited by the
Royal Astronomical Society for safe keeping in the Churchill College
Archives Centre of which I was director. I think I have read just about
everything that survives from her pen, and some of these materials would
have been unavailable to other students....

Michael Hoskin

5. Interview in Astronomy: "Can minorities break astronomy's glass ceiling?" 
From: Patricia Knezek

The May 2003 issue of Astronomy magazine contains an article called "Can
minorities break astronomy's glass ceiling?".  The article incorporates the
text of an interview of five astronomers done during the Janaury 2001 AAS
meeting: Meg Urry (Yale), Van Dixon (Johns Hopkins), Patricia Knezek (WIYN
Observatory), David Koerner (Northern Arizona), and Keivan Stassun 
(Wisconsin).  The article can be downloaded from:

6. Letters of recommendation
From: Meg Urry

Previous issues of AASWOMEN have discussed how letters 
of recommendation for women scientists are written 
differently than those for men (e.g., use of women's 
first names compared to more formal reference to men; 
mention of women's pleasant personalities, rarely matched 
by similar comments about the men; etc.)

I write to raise a different but related issue.
How often are women scientists asked to write letters for
women? About half the requests I get for letters of reference
(for promotion or tenure, unrelated to my previous students
or postdocs) are for women. A quick informal poll of male
colleagues suggests their requests are overwhelmingly
for men. The obvious interpretation is that (a) committees
soliciting letters for women scientists are conscious of 
the need to include recommendations for other women scientists
(a good thing), and (b) that committees soliciting letters for
male scientists are unconsciously including few women among
their lists of referees. This strikes me as a bad thing ---
a possible implication is that my colleagues can think of 
women referees only when "woman" is included in the
required criteria. On lists of "top scientist referees,"
women don't seem to appear regularly or automatically
(this happens also with lists of invited speakers, 
prize winners, etc.).

But maybe 20 years in astronomy has made me too pessimistic!
I would be interested in other people's experiences and 
comments on this, and in particular, whether their tenure-letter
load is "normal" (roughly 10-20% female) or not. (To be useful,
such tallies should probably exclude former students,
postdocs, and close collaborators, who are special cases.)

Meg Urry
Yale University

7. Producer Seeks Contestants for Discovery Channel Pilot (and a follow-up

>From WIPHYS Apr. 09, 2003

Dear Women in Physics:
My name is Leah Wolchok and I work for a nonfiction TV
production company called Michael Hoff Productions. We're in the
process of casting an exciting new television pilot for the Discovery
Science Channel. The show is a high-energy debate that pits two
rival scientists in a head to head battle of ideas. This is hard science
with an edge, and shooting begins in late April. 

We're looking for contestants who have at least a masters degree in
a hard science, and enjoy rapid-fire debate. We want people who
can defend extreme positions from opposite poles and love to argue
about science. We've gotten a lot of response from male scientists,
but we're looking for some women to balance out the show.

I would love your help in finding female scientists for the program. 
Feel free to contact me with any questions. 

Leah Wolchok, Associate Producer 
Michael Hoff Productions
5900 Hollis Street Suite O
Emeryville, CA 94608
Direct Line: 510-597-2061 


>From WIPHYS Apr. 10, 2003

Regarding the Discovery Channel's search for contestants (From WIPHYS 4/9/03) 

"We're looking for contestants who have at least a masters degree
in a hard science, and enjoy rapid-fire debate. We want people who
can defend extreme positions from opposite poles and love to argue
about science. We've gotten a lot of response from male scientists,
but we're looking for some women to balance out the show."

Has it occurred to anyone that the prevalence of this style among
male scientists may well be a reason why many women find the
climate in physics to be unwelcoming? This is "combat physics" in
its purest form, and it isn't a style favored by most female scientists
I know, who prefer to work together to find out the truth (which
almost certainly lies between the "extreme positions" on "opposite

Prof. Laurie E. McNeil
Dept. of Physics and Astronomy
Univ. of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

8. Faculty Salaries Report from AAUP

>From WIPHYS Apr. 10, 2003

Faculty salaries rose 3 per cent in 2002-3, however a salary gap
remains between male and female professors. At the full-professor
level, men made an average of $9,913, or 12.6 percent, more than
women. At the associate-professor level, men made an average of
$4,387, or 7.4 percent, more than women. Male assistant
professors made an average of $4,045, or 8.2 percent, more than
their female counterparts. See "Unequal Progress: The Annual
Report on the Economic Status of the Profession, 2002-03",
available from the American Association of University Professors

9. Visiting Assistant Professor for Astronomy, UNLV
From: Donna Weistrop

Visiting Assistant Professor for Astronomy 
University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV) 

Department of Physics 
University of Nevada, Las Vegas 
4505 Maryland Pkwy. 
Las Vegas, NV 89154-4002 

Attention: Chair, Visiting Astronomy Professor Search Committee 

The Physics Department at UNLV invites applicants for a Visiting Assistant 
Professorship in Astronomy for the 2003-2004 academic year, to begin in 
August 2003. A Ph.D. degree in astronomy or a related area is required. The 
successful applicant is expected to teach effectively at the undergraduate 
level. Preference will be given to applicants with prior teaching experience, 
but such experience is not required. 

Current research interests in the astronomy group include variable stars, 
interstellar medium, clusters of galaxies, cosmology, galaxy interactions, 
and star formation. Las Vegas has easy access to the major astronomical 
centers in the southwest US. Additional information about the department may 
be obtained from our web site, 

Applications should include a cover letter, curriculum vita, and the names of 
at least three references. Review of applications will begin immediately. The 
position will remain open until filled. Position is contingent upon funding. 

UNLV is an Affirmative Action / Equal Opportunity educator and employer 
committed to excellence through diversity. UNLV employs only U.S. citizens and 
aliens authorized to work in the U.S. For more information, see the UNLV World 
Wide Website at:

10. Senior Lecturer, Department of Physics, Simon Fraser University

>From WIPHYS Apr. 09, 2003

The Department of Physics at Simon Fraser University
invites applications for the position of Senior Lecturer,
effective September 1, 2003 or earlier, subject to final
budgetary approval. Required qualifications are a PhD
degree in physics, teaching experience at the post-secondary
level and a strong commitment to excellence in teaching. It
is expected that the successful candidate will participate in
the teaching program of the department at all levels, will be
active in curriculum development and will play a role in the
general committee work of the Department. The specific
duties of the incumbent will be determined by the Chair of
the Department but will normally be the equivalent of
teaching six one-semester courses over a twelve-month
period. In accordance with Simon Fraser University policy
A12-01, the initial appointment will be for one year but it is
anticipated that this will be a continuing position. Further
information regarding the position of Senior Lecturer may
be found on the SFU web site at

In accordance with Canadian immigration requirements,
priority will be given to Canadian citizens and permanent
residents. SFU is committed to an equity employment
program that includes special measures to achieve diversity
among its faculty and staff. We therefore particularly
encourage applications from qualified women, aboriginal
Canadians, persons with disabilities, and members of visible
minorities. To apply for this position, send a curriculum
vitae, teaching evaluations of previous courses taught, if
available, and have three letters of recommendation sent to
Dr. Michael Plischke, Chair, Department of Physics, Simon
Fraser University, Burnaby, V5A-1S6 (e-mail: The deadline for applications is June 15,
2003 but late applications will be accepted until the position
is filled.