Date: Mon, 15 Dec 2003 17:32:19 -0500 (EST)
Subject: AASWOMEN for December 12, 2003

AAS Committee on the Status of Women
Weekly issue of December 12, 2003
eds. Patricia Knezek & Michael Rupen

This week's issues:
1. Discussion of family & tenure
2. CSWA lunch session at AAS: January 8, 2004
3. FORWARD to Professorship Workshop, 19-24 May 2004, Washington, DC
4. Sackler Prize in the Physical Sciences
5. NASA Summer Internship Opportunities for Undergraduate & Graduate Students
6. Tenure-track Position in Radio Astronomy at Cornell University

1. Discussion of family & tenure
> From WIPHYS of December 9, 2003

Hello all,
I'm a female particle physics postdoc with two kids
(one six, and the other eight months).

I've had some very frustrating experiences being a woman
in physics (too lengthy to go into all the details here).
The very worst experiences have been centered around the
births of my two children. The experiences truly run the
gamut...when my first child was born during my doctoral degree my
stipend was drastically cut, and I was forced to work side jobs to
make enough money to finish the last few years of my degree. I
lost time because of that, and slipped a couple of years on my
career timeline compared to my physicist husband, who is exactly
my age. This summer I was told by a prospective employer that I
was viewed as "too old" for a faculty position because of the
slippage in my career timeline (I'm 36).
Talking to my female colleagues reveals that I am not alone in
experiencing problems like these. A grim statistic is that, out of all
the tenured faculty I know, not a single one is a woman with two or
more kids. 
I've been thinking a lot lately about how this field can be changed,
and about what things could have made the field a lot more
accommodating and encouraging for me personally. I've noticed
that while many women (particularly women with kids) drop out at
the postdoctoral level, there are virtually no government funding
programs aimed at encouraging the success of female postdocs in
physics. There appear to be a few programs aimed at tenure track
women having kids, but in my experience most women who already
have kids are failing to reach those tenure track positions, let alone
tenure itself.
I think that funding agencies (NSF, DOE, etc) should be strongly 
encouraged to come up with programs specifically aimed at
women, and a program particularly aimed at women with children
at the postdoctoral level would be very helpful. But what form
should such a program take? Any suggestions for specifics? 

I would have liked to have seen a program that encouraged my
current employer (perhaps through monetary incentives) to offer
me the option to work part-time right after the birth of my second
child. As it was, I was under intense pressure to return to work just
a couple of weeks after my baby was born, and to "hit the ground
running". The expectation that I was to not only return to work full
time, but to also produce even higher quality work than usual (!),
set me up for almost certain failure. Many of my female physicist
friends with kids have post-partum stories nearly identical to mine. 
No wonder women with kids are dropping out of the field in droves
at the postdoctoral level.

So, any suggestions as to what one change you personally would
like to see made to the field? Simple suggestions are best, since
picking a smaller battle we can actually expect to win will guarantee
greater chance of success.

Best regards,
Sherry Towers 


> From WIPHYS of December 10, 2003

Dear Sherry,
It might help to read Simon Baren-Cohen's new book: The essential 
difference: male brain, female brain and the extreme male brain.
After that you might start to see your surroundings filled by 
empathy-disabled, who can only tolerate willingly people with their
own kind, and who need not face their own disability if they can
keep emphatically more talented people taking the label 'unable'
All the best,

> From WIPHYS of December 10, 2003

The thing I would like to see changed the most in women's
professional careers, and in the professional careers of men, is the
lack of famous examples of family people who are considered to be
successful. I believe that the lack of examples in the minds of
"physicists in power" is the single most debilitating factor in the
success of women in physics.

If you spend any time at all worrying about that one prospective 
employer that told you that you are too old, that is time lost on
your career path and probably an increase in time off for medical
reasons. If there were well-known examples of men and women
who took time off and had successful careers later on, then this
obstacle would disappear because it would be expected rather than

I am an astrophysicist with two children. I do not have tenure yet,
but I hope to have tenure by next summer. I have done my best
work after I had children. I have also been happiest after I had
children. I think that these are related. It is reasonable to expect
that if one takes off time to care for children that we might not
progress as quickly through our careers - though the time
management and people skills learned through this activity are an
offsetting factor. However, we should not expect that the career is

In the short term, please believe that it is possible to have a 
fulfilling career and family life, visualize it, and act surprised if 
anyone says otherwise. Turn off that voice that says one cannot get
a faculty position if she is too old. I am not naive enough to believe 
that this will solve all problems, but it does help level the playing 
field just a little.

Heidi Newberg
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute 


> From WIPHYS of December 10, 2003

I have the same feeling as a postdoc in physics, with kid and family.
Physics problems always occupied my mind day and night, and also
I like to devote myself to physics. However, when I face the future
job, I was scared by the fact. It seems it is very hard to continue
physics career for me. I felt sad upset, angry, helpless. Sometime, I
even think I want to do physics by myself, no job, no salary,..., but
it is unfair.

I am very happy to get this message, and hope to discuss more with
women friends, who are struggling in physics.

Best Regards,

> From WIPHYS of December 10, 2003

[Note that the article discussed below will also be reprinted in the 
 January 2004 issue of STATUS. -- Eds.]

See the article "Do Babies Matter? The Effect of Family Formation
on the Life Long Careers of Academic Men and Women", by Mary
Ann Mason and Marc Goulden. This article appeared in Academe,
the magazine of the American Association of University Professors.
m . The Chronicle of Higher Education held an on-line colloquy on
Dec. 5 on this subject - a transcript can be found at (you may have to
be a subscriber to access it). Author Mary Ann Mason participated
in the dicussion and had some very interesting things to say about
improving the tenure process for BOTH men and women . 

Sue Otwell, APS Staff
WIPHYS Moderator

> From WIPHYS of December 12, 2003

Perhaps it is timely to offer a reminder that ALL women have a life
outside of [paid] work. For some, a fulfilling personal life involves
children; for others, it does not. recall that some women are
infertile. Some women are in a same-sex relationship rather than a
heterosexual one. Some women have a commitment to (say) an
environmental or religious cause that occupies all of their available
personal time. Some women suffer from serious medical problems,
requiring spending much personal time just keeping 'head above
water'. and so forth. 

In other words: dear friends, please do not devalue non-mothers. 
This is probably the oldest form of discrimination against women in
the book. The real issue here is work life versus **personal** life.

Prof.A.W. Peet

2. CSWA lunch session at AAS: January 8, 2004
From: Patricia Knezek

[We are re-running this announcement in hopes of encouraging further
 speakers from outside the CSWA. -- Eds.]

The Committee on the Status of Women in Astronomy (CSWA) will host a
lunch session at the AAS meeting in Atlanta, on Thursday, January 8, from
1:00 to 2:00pm, in the Regency V room. The focus will be a panel discussion
addressing the outcome of the Women in Astronomy II. There will be a brief
introduction reviewing the main issues and potential solutions that came
out of the meeting. Institutions that are working on these issues are
invited to describe their process and progress. This will be followed by
time for open discussion and questions. The CSWA will provide additional
information as the date for the AAS approaches.

Please contact Patricia Knezek,, if you
are interested in sharing your institution's progress.


3. FORWARD to Professorship Workshop, 19-24 May 2004, Washington, DC
> From WIPHYS of December 9, 2003

You, as well as other qualified members of your organization are
invited to attend the FORWARD to Professorship Workshop,
sponsored in part by a grant for the National Science Foundation. 
The Workshop will be held May 19 to 24, 2004 in Washington DC. 

For additional information please check 

FORWARD in SEM: Focus on Reaching Women for Academics,
Research and is a joint program of the George Washington and
Gallaudet Universities, and is funded by a National Science
Foundation ADVANCE leadership award. This workshop is
provided for women and minorities who may be considering, or are
currently in, a tenure track position in science, engineering or
mathematics. The 2 1/2 day workshop will focus on skills,
strategies and "insider information" necessary to obtain a
tenure-track position, to succeed in one and advance to other
positions of leadership. This is also an opportunity to network and
meet peers. Any questions, please contact Yell Inverso at 

Yell Inverso, B.S.
Gallaudet University
Graduate Research Assistant

4. Sackler Prize in the Physical Sciences
> From AAS Electronic Announcement #132 (December 2003)

[We print this announcement in accordance with our general policy of 
 encouraging the nomination of women for prestigious prizes in astronomy.
 Nominations are due 15 February 2004; nominees must be born after
 15 February 1963. -- Eds.]

The Sackler Prize in the Physical Sciences will
be awarded this year in the field of "Observational 
or Theoretical Astronomy and Astrophysics." 

The Sackler Prize is a prize dedicated to the promotion
of science and is intended for young scientists up
to age 40. It is administered by Tel Aviv University,
and is a cash award of around $36,000.
Please see 
For further information. 

5. NASA Summer Internship Opportunities for Undergraduate & Graduate Students
From: Anne Anikis

2004 NASA ACADEMIES (Goddard Space Flight Center & Ames Research Center
Dedicated to promoting opportunities for leadership and innovation, the
NASA Academy is an intensive 10-week summer resident program for a
diverse group of undergraduate and graduate students interested in
pursuing professional careers in aerospace-related fields. It
underscores national and international government, academic, and private
sector cooperation in assuring the success of complex space enterprises.
The program includes guided laboratory research, collaborative group
projects, lectures, field trips, interaction with prominent professionals
from NASA and its associates, and oral and written presentations.

Session Dates:
  Goddard Space Flight Center Academy:  June 6-August 13, 2004
  Ames Research Center Academy:  June 20-August 27, 2004

To Apply:i Applications may be found at URL:

DEADLINE: January 31, 2004

This educational program provides internships for college students of
science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). Internships of
a 10-week duration are available during the summer months at the NASA
Glenn Research Center, Cleveland, Ohio. Interns are given assignments in
research and development, technical, and administrative projects under
the personal guidance of NASA professional staff members. Interns are
integrated into the day-to-day activities of the Center to the greatest
extent possible and a certain amount of time is devoted to a program of
scheduled educational, professional, and social events.

Session Dates:
Session I: May 24 to July 30, 2004
Session II: June 7 to August 13, 2004
Session III: June 14 to August 20, 2004
To Apply: Applications may be found at URL:

DEADLINE: January 31, 2004

6. Tenure-track Position in Radio Astronomy at Cornell University
From: Robert Brown

The Department of Astronomy at Cornell University has an opening for a
tenure track faculty position at the level of assistant professor.
Applicants must have research interests that overlap the major research
areas of the Arecibo Observatory in radio and radar astronomy. However,
preference will be given to individuals with demonstrated expertise in
planetary radar astronomy. The National Astronomy and Ionosphere Center,
which operates the Arecibo Observatory for the National Science
Foundation, is headquartered at Cornell. The successful applicant will
be expected to initiate and successfully pursue independent research
programs and to have a strong commitment to undergraduate and graduate
education. Traditional strengths of Cornell astronomy lie in planetary
science, radio astronomy, optical/IR instrumentation and theoretical
astrophysics. In addition to the relationship with Arecibo, faculty,
staff and students have access to the Palomar telescope and the
department is leading an effort to build a sub-mm telescope in northern
Chile. The application should include a curriculum vitae, discussion of
teaching interests and a statement of research activities and future
plans along with the names of at least three references. It should be
sent by February 15, 2004 to:
      Search Committee, Attn: Professor Don Campbell
      Department of Astronomy
      Space Sciences Bldg.
      Cornell University
      Ithaca, NY 14853

Cornell is an Equal Opportunity Affirmative Action Employer.