Date: Mon, 28 Apr 2003 20:01:31 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: AASWOMEN for April 25, 2003

AAS Committee on the Status of Women
Weekly issue of April 25, 2003
eds. Meg Urry, Patricia Knezek, & Michael Rupen

This week's issues:

1. Re-entering the career track: AASWOMEN response 
2. Re-entering the career track: WIPHYS responses continued
3. Regional Opportunities for Scientists in Education
4. Women in Engineering Project
5. Conference on Women In Astronomy - update program on the web!
6. Systems Engineer for LSST - NOAO

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

1. Re-entering the career track: AASWOMEN response 

From: Hashima Hasan

       Did you take a 'break' of a year or more in your career to raise
       children? If so, how did you get back into physics?

Yes and no. I took a couple of months off when my son was 3 months old, went 
back to my Physics (university) teaching job for two months, took two months 
off, switched to research at a research institution (on my own research grant)
for a year, took five months off for my second baby, worked another 8 months, 
took two months off, switched jobs again (because my husband changed his and 
moved to another geographical situation) and decided to start as a post doc
again. At this point, I also changed from being a nuclear physicist to an 

       Did you work part-time? volunteer with a research group?

As indicated above, I worked full time and was fully compensated.

       If you have children and did not take an extended leave from your
       career, would you have if re-entry programs or procedures existed?

There is no way I would take extended leave, as I found child rearing an 
exhausting, stressful task that I definitely did NOT enjoy. My moments of 
peace came when I was at work indulging myself in the world of scientific 
research. I do think 3 months leave immediately after childbirth is important 
for physical and emotional recovery of the mother, and to gice time to bond 
with the baby.

       Do you think women physicist are lost from the pipeline because of
       re-entry issues?

Probably. I left Physics myself for that reason. But....the training of a 
physicist is very versatile and it is not hard to find a job in another 
related field.

       Do you think the physics career track should be more flexible with
       regards to re-entry?

Wouldn't hurt!

       Do you have any thoughts on the ideal career path for physicist
       who want to have children?

Purely on health grounds, I'd say the sooner you have kids the better. It's 
hard on the woman's body to produces kids after the age of 30yrs. and the 
kids wear you out even if you are in great physical and emotional shape!

Best of luck!

2. Re-entering the career track: WIPHYS responses continued

>From: WIPHYS Apr. 22, 2003

Gosh, these re-entry stories are quite discouraging. I'd like to add a more 
positive note, which is that I had my two kids just after getting a 
tenure-track position at a traditionally competitive institution, and, while 
it wasn't easy, it wasn't actually all that hard either. Day care was 
available and wonderful (extra people to love my kids) and my kids are happy 
and well adjusted. And my career has gone well. Somehow young women seem to 
have the impression that it is not possible to have a high-powered academic 
career and a happy family, yet that is my experience, and in fact, the 
experience of many other women scientists I know. I would really like to see 
young women today pursue their dreams -- of having a wonderful scientific 
career and a fabulous family, if that is what they want. Plenty of men do it. 
We should have the same opportunity.
Meg Urry


>From: WIPHYS Apr. 23, 2003

Did you take a 'break' of a year or more in your career to raise children? 
If so, how did you get back into physics? Did you work part-time? volunteer 
with a research group? 

 - My husband and I each took three months off for each of our two children. 
I never left a job, so I did not have the re-entry problem, but I did work 
80% time for one year when both my children were little.

If you have children and did not take an extended leave from your career, 
would you have if re-entry programs or procedures existed? 

 - Maybe, but who knows?

Do you think women physicist are lost from the pipeline because of re-entry 

 - Women are lost from the pipeline because of fear of re-entry issues, both 
on the part of the women and the other people in the field. I am not sure 
that the re-entry issue itself is the biggest contributor.

Do you think the physics career track should be more flexible with regards to 

 - Yes.

Do you have any thoughts on the ideal career path for physicist who want to 
have children?

 - I think that women should not fear being left behind, and do whatever they 
want to do. We should take time off if we want to, and not if we don't 
want to.

My husband graduated with a PhD in theoretical computer science, specializing 
in what is now bioinformatics, a year before I got my PhD. He moved with me 
to my postdoc the year before he finished.  We found an office in a biology 
group that was at least somewhat related to what he did for him to sit in 
while he did his PhD, and he was still paid by his thesis advisor for that 

When he graduated, there were only two schools that had any research similar 
to his PhD that were near enough to my postdoc that he could commute to them. 
Neither were looking for anyone like him, so his academic career ended at 
that point. He worked on web education projects in biology as university staff 
for several years. He was promoted to manager of the 10 or so person group
while he was on family leave.

He eventually grew tired of managing the group and took a job in finance, 
which allowed him to do more of the quantitative work he liked. A couple of 
years later, he followed me to my faculty job.  He kept his job (1000 miles 
away) by telecommuting and went back to work there only three days a month. 
Telecommuting worked out fine except that it is impossible to advance in a 
company when you are 1000 miles away, so after 3 years of working long 
distance he switched jobs again.

Jobs in industry were hard to get last year, so he took a position at the 
level of research associate professor, a soft money job, full time, in 
bioinformatics (his PhD research topic), in a group with a strong and 
successful group leader. He has a year or two to bring in grant money to 
support himself, and I expect that he will be successful.  He is not applying 
for a tenure-track position partly because he likes doing the research.

My husband has taken as much time off for children, school vacations, sick 
kids, and everything else as I have. He has followed my to all of my jobs. He 
has always taken the opportunity that looked most interesting to him within 
the limits of what I needed to keep going in my career. I am certain that if 
he had taken a couple years off in this journey the results would not have 
been different.

I think the world really is set up for women to take time off if they want, 
and we are all so used to being told what we can and cannot do that somehow 
we believe it, and so does everybody else. If we take time out and do not 
come back, it may be that we just found something else we would rather do.

I have done my best research as a mother, mostly because I have been happiest 
in life as a mother. I would encourage women to have children whenever they 
want, and expect the world to react reasonably to that decision. You can 
always do research later (my mother got her PhD in computer science at age 
50, and is now a professor at a four year university), but you cannot always 
have children later.

Signed, Heidi Newberg 


>From: WIPHYS Apr. 24, 2003

******MESSAGE ONE ****

D id you take a 'break' of a year or more in your career to raise children? 
If so, how did you get back into physics? Did you work part-time? volunteer 
with a research group?

- My experience is from 20-30 years ago, but may have some interest. When I 
received my PhD there were no jobs in my specialty of theoretical condensed 
matter, within commuting distance, that had any interest for me, so I 
remained at my graduate institution as a part time instructor and researcher 
for a year, became pregnant and dropped out for 5 years. There was also at
that time no child care, and part time jobs were pretty clearly deadend, but 
mostly there was nothing that was interesting. Very rough time to find a 
good job in physics - maybe 5 jobs in the whole US in the back of Physics 

When my son was 5, I decided to go back to work, and was very fortunate to 
have parents-in-law nearby to pitch in with childcare and many friends in 
Princeton, NJ. I joined a research group in biomolecular computing in the 
Princeton University chemistry department (unpaid for 6 months, then became 
a part-time instructor teaching quantum chemistry). When first getting
started in this group, I was encouraged to apply for postdoctoral fellowships 
from NIH, AAUW and another (for which I forget the name). The professor whose 
group I had joined, suggested a good idea for a proposal for these 
fellowships and I was offered all the fellowships I'd applied for. I accepted 
the NIH because it was for 3 years and then moved to the physics Department 
where I worked for 3 years in both theoretical biophysics and condensed 
matter.  Had a wonderful time, published terrific first author papers, but a
permanent situation did not materialize.

I moved to the Princeton University Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory 
where there was a job in mathematical modeling of ocean dynamics. Again I had 
a wonderful time, published a very highly cited first author paper, but the 
permanent situation which had been initially "promised", disappeared. At this 
point I'd had >5 years of postdoctoral work, a 10 year old son, ill parents 
and parents-in-law nearby and could not take on a long commute, nor another 

So I took another job at Princeton University, this time replacing a physics 
Bachelor's degreed computer programmer in the Plasma Physics Laboratory. But 
this was finally a permanent staff position.  It took 20 years and about 25 
peer reviewed, first author publications after that to make it to the top 
rank, Principal Research Physicist. For this I had to be voted in just as 
academic departments vote for the top ranks of professors. Along the way
I've effectively completed PhD's in condensed matter, theoretical biophysics, 
oceanography, and plasma physics.

One particularly difficult aspect of this has been that changing fields
drastically, as I did to remain in the same geographical area, destroys the 
integrated value of your earlier knowledge, earlier contacts and earlier 
accomplishments. I would strongly encourage staying in the same general field 
if at all possible and I hope you find success and happiness.

Martha Redi, Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory

********MESSAGE TWO *****

I find this posting very refreshing, but also very optimistic and somewhat 
misleading. The author implies that the difficulties women face to have a 
career in science and a family are pretty much in our minds. I don't agree 
with that.

As scientists, we should be able to distinguish between trends and particular 
cases. What this posting is talking about is a particular case. What the 
studies and statistics talk about are trends. The trend is for women to drop 
out of the pipeline at all stages and also to be less successful that they 
could have been (or that they would have been had they been men-see the pay 
difference for example) when they stay. While it is true that hard good work 
will take you farther, man or woman, it is also true that there is ingrained 
difficulty in the system for women because we are perceived as different by 
too many of our peers. Or are we going to buy now that women are leaving 
careers ONLY because they choose too? No, the choice is too many times made 
for us by the system. The system is getting better, of course, but we have 
to keep at it because it didn't get better on its own.

Isabel Echeverreda, Ph D
Phone: (+1) (608) 218 9632

***MESSAGE THREE ********

I have a question regarding postponement of the tenure decision for
childbearing reasons. I am a tenure-track physics faculty at a small liberal 
arts college and am expecting my first child in about a month. My husband is 
also a physics faculty member (with tenure) at this institution. I plan to 
take an unpaid leave of absence for the fall semester (fall 2003), and return 
full-time in January. My question is the following: My tenure review is 
scheduled for fall of 2004 (during my sixth year), which is one year after my 
one term leave. Because I am taking a one semester leave in fall 2003, the
Dean has offered to postpone my tenure review one full year. I don't know if 
this is a good idea or not, since I have no idea how being a mother will 
affect my ability to continue my activities with their current time 
commitments. There is no option of postponing it by just one semester, since 
all tenure reviews are conducted during the fall semester. I meet with my 
Dean next week!  to discuss this issue. I proposed that he let me return to 
work for one semester and then make a decision about whether or not I want
to postpone my review; but he cannot wait until the end of that semester for 
my decision. I think I am in great shape for tenure, having plenty of 
publications and great evaluations, so I'm not sure postponing the decision 
is necessary. 

Postponing tenure would put a lot of other things on hold for another full 
year (sabbatical, long-term research projects that I am anxious to start, new 
courses I'd like to teach, and the possibility of having another child). On 
the other hand, I think I'm lucky to be at an institution where such an 
arrangement is possible. I would REALLY appreciate your thoughts on how to 
approach this, either via WIPHYS or by private email. 

Ann M. Viano, Asst. Professor
Physics Department
Rhodes College, Memphis, TN 38112


>From: WIPHYS Apr. 25, 2003

******MESSAGE ONE *****

If you believe you have a strong case to be successful with your tenure 
review in the fall of 2004, ask a respected faculty member from another 
science department at Rhodes to look at your dossier.  Preferably ask 
someone who has served on the T & P committee recently. If he/she agrees 
with your assessment of your likely success in 2004, GO FOR IT. Once 
tenured, re-entry is easier and you will have a better bargaining position 
for when you return full-time.

Elizabeth Ivey 
Former Provost at a liberal arts college and again at master's comprehensive 

******MESSAGE TWO ***

I agree with Isabel Echeverreda. There are data and statistics on 
retention/attrition of women in physics that show that there exists a problem 
defined as the "leaky pipeline". What the data point at is that there is 
still a lot of subtle and unsubtle discrimination against women in this 
field. The question of reentry should be addressed and understood only as a 
"last resource" type of remedy to a situation that has been created because 
of this discrimination. 

Let's face it, the idea that a woman is allowed to leave the field or to skip 
from field to field because she has to take care of her children is just 
BACKWARD. I find it insulting to womankind because it implies that women's 
contribution to physics is neither an urgent nor an important matter after 
all. What institutions should work on -- and I do not see it been done, again 
according to the data -- is to guarantee that there exists an environment 
where both men and women can function. Investments in this area are still
insufficient. This includes for example child-care everywhere in the working 
place, be it the university, the laboratory, the workshops and conferences, 
the meetings of all kinds. Something maybe drastic, as a mandatory ruling for 
providing childcare at every meeting would make for instance organizers think 
twice before scheduling at "impossible" hours. And the culture would start

Simonetta Liuti 
Department of Physics 
University of Virginia 

*******MESSAGE THREE ***

NSF recognizes that taking time off for family responsibilities (having 
children, caring for elderly parents, ...) is one of the factors that can 
lead to limitations on career advancement. To help those who wish to 
(re-)establish a full-time independent academic research and education 
career, NSF has developed the Fellows portion of the ADVANCE program. The 
ADVANCE Fellows program has a goal of helping individuals who experience
situations that may limit their career advancement. The career limiting 
factors that are addressed in the Fellows solicitation are: 1) being in an 
extended postdoctoral position, 2) having a career interruption for family 
responsibilities, or 3) being a following spouse. Each of these Fellows 
categories has very specific eligibility requirements, please see the 
solicitation for complete details. To be eligible under career interruption, 
one must meet the general Fellows eligibility criteria and in addition: 
"on the proposal due date, be out of the full-time science and engineering 
workforce and have been out of this workforce for 2 to 8 years to attend to
family responsibilities."

The deadline for Fellows proposals is June 16, 2003. This is an NSF-wide 
program. We expect to have a very competitive situation this year. For more 
information on ADVANCE please see:

As an aside for those who are unaware, the Condensed Matter Physics program 
is found in the Division of Materials Research and not the Physics Division.

Dr. Wendy Fuller-Mora
Program Director
Condensed Matter Physics
National Science Foundation> 

In my ideal career path, I am free to take a few years' sabbatical to
deal with issues such as having children or intensive caring for
elders WITHOUT getting stigma slapped on my forehead ("what's
that GAP in your resume?"). If I decide to keep going but at a
reduced pace, I want to be able to use the Federal Family Leave
Act, again without the stigma. And I want to be able to do this

Surely it is inexcusably unfair that when a woman takes family
leave, people merely frown, but when a man takes family leave,
that's the end of his career. (A large fraction of the most recent
generation have real fathers who take their parenting responsibilities
seriously; but does anyone know of a man who has actually made
use of the Federal Family Leave Act?). These attitudes are born out
of the mistaken notion that, in order to be a "serious" physicist, one
has to serve physics with total devotion. Well - to misquote from
King Lear - Why have my colleagues wives, if they say they love
physics all (i.e. with all their hearts)? I agree with Heidi Newberg
that those physicists who are well-rounded human beings make the
best physicists. I believe that this is true for both men and women.

In reality, I didn't stop when my daughters, now 6 and 2, were
born, but I did use the Federal Family Leave Act to be in the lab 4
days a week until they were 2; this, together with phenomenal
support from my husband and parents, resulted in both happy
children and a glitchless publication record. I'm now on an
involuntary sabbatical (got laid off), but intend to keep doing
physics: I am available as a consultant, and I want to pursue
some ideas on my own; I also created and maintain a web site on
my subfield, which forces me to keep up to date. Should the
sabbatical become extended, I like the idea of being a visiting
scientist in an existing lab as a spring board to a permanent
position. Finally, in defiance of those who are ready to mete out
stigma, let me state that I have found immense joy and satisfaction
in being with my children outside of the time pressure cooker. I say
it again: Life is wonderful: live all of it, not just the physics part.

Tineke Thio 

3. Regional Opportunities for Scientists in Education
From: Cheri Morrow camorrowSPOT.COLORADO.EDU

Dear Colleague,

If you or your collaborators work in AZ, CA, CO, ND, NE, NM, NV, SD, UT


(1) you are a space or earth scientist interested in science
   education and public outreach (E/PO), or
(2) you lead an E/PO program in a research institution that supports
   space and/or earth science,

then this message is for you!

The NASA OSS E/PO Broker/Facilitator at the Space Science Institute in
Boulder, CO is launching a new quarterly bulletin called ROSIE ("Regional
Opportunities for Scientists in Education").

This will be a quarterly newsletter, with occasional special bulletins for
time-critical opportunities. To be added to or removed from this list, see
instructions at the bottom of the message.

Below is the first edition of ROSIE. Please send feedback and ideas for
future contents to Christy Edwards at

Yours sincerely,
Dr. Cherilynn (Cheri) Morrow
Western Region Broker/Facilitator


DATE: 04 17 03

will host its 9th annual K-12 Education Workshop for Scientists, Engineers,
and Education and Public Outreach (EPO) Professionals, in Boulder,
Colorado, 4-7 May 2003. Contact Christy Edwards at
for more information.

B. JOB ANNOUNCEMENT: The Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) is
seeking an Origins Education Forum Lead. See for more details.

NASA OSS is soliciting proposals that allow partnerships for research and
with Minority Institutions. Letters of intent are due April 28, proposals
due June 30.
Please contact Christy Edwards at for more information.


WHO: A group of High School AP students preparing to compete in the
National Science Bowl in Washington, DC, in May.

WHAT: Students need a professional who can provide a 2-hour short course
(1-hour survey, 1-hour Q&A) on stellar evolution, classification of stars,
new information on planets, history and key accomplishments of manned and
unmanned spaceflight. An honorarium of $60.00 is being offered.

WHEN: By 1 May 2003, contact Amy Wilkerson ASAP

WHERE: Smoky Hill High School in Aurora, CO

CONTACT: Amy Wilkerson at for more information.


To be removed from this list, send email to LISTSERVHALVAS.COLORADO.EDU
and place SIGNOFF SCIENTISTSINEDUCATIONWEST3-L in the body of the email.

To be added to this list, or if you have any other questions, please
contact Christy Edwards at

4. Women in Engineering Project
From: Peter Hiscocks
[Eds. note: A pointer to the article in the May issue of Astronomy can
be found in the April 11, 2003 issue of the AASWOMEN newsletter.  Also,
the author of this letter further noted that "the Toronto Chapter of the 
Royal Astronomical Society has a very active and enthusiastic school 
visitation program. There is no gender focus to the program, but it does 
spread the word about astronomy."]

Ms. Urry, Ms. Knezek -

Greetings from Ryerson. I was very interested in the forum reported in the
May issue of Astronomy, "Have minorities broken astronomy's glass ceiling?"

I am pleased to see that there is interest in attracting more women into
astronomy. One of our most well known local astronomers was Dr. Helen Sawyer
Hogg, who among other accomplishments wrote a delightful book entitled 'The
stars belong to everyone'.

At Ryerson, we operate a very successful initiative to attract women into
the engineering profession. The centrepiece of this program is a one-week
summer day camp, Discover Engineering for senior high-school girls. This has
been operating for over 10 years now, and we have statistics to show that it
is having a significant effect. We think that there are about 800 women who
are now in engineering as a direct result. (And the original concept was
modelled on something Purdue University was doing at the time.)

The details are at

We're always happy to discuss this issue, and it would be interesting to get
the perspective of scientists like yourselves to compare with our experiences 
as applied scientists.

On the 'minority tax' issue. We face the same problem in engineering, and
our program is to some extent the result of Ryerson's unique situation back
in the late 80's when this program was started. Ultimately, the solution is
to have a paid coordinator who manages the project. The coordinator is
funded by the university and does fund-raising to support the camp project
and other initiatives. The WIE coordinator is Lisa Anderson
( Her management and the work of her predecessors in
that position have been fundamental to this project.

It's nice to see this issue getting the attention it deserves.

Best wishes -

5. Conference on Women In Astronomy - update program on the web!
From: Fran Bagenal bagenalwopr.Colorado.EDU

An updated program now posted on the web. Please circulate and encourage your 
colleagues to attend - tell them every astronomer with power and influence 
should attend!

  Conference on Women In Astronomy - June 27-8, 2003 at Caltech

6. Systems Engineer for LSST - NOAO
From: Dottie Poczulp

NOAO would like to announce that it has a job opening for the following

         - Systems Engineer, NOAO Tucson, AZ 3/20/2003

A detailed description of the position, as well as other currently open
positions, with information on application deadlines, and contact information 
can be found at: