Date: Mon, 10 May 2004 19:53:18 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: AASWOMEN for May 7, 2004

AAS Committee on the Status of Women
Weekly issue of May 7, 2004
eds. Patricia Knezek, Michael Rupen, & Jim Ulvestad
This week's issues:

1. Progress on WIA-II Recommendations
2. Physics GRE Scores
3. How to submit, subscribe, or unsubscribe to AASWOMEN

1. Progress on WIA-II Recommendations
From: Jim Ulvestad

On May 6, a telecon was held among various members of the AAS Committee
on the Status of Women in Astronomy (CSWA), to discuss draft recommendations
from the Women in Astronomy-II meeting held in Pasadena in June 2003.
A preliminary draft had been circulated privately, receiving detailed
comments from several present and former CSWA members.  At the May 6
telecon, a plan was developed to cast these recommendations into a form 
requesting specific actions rather than general statements of intent.  The 
CSWA hopes to submit the draft recommendations to the larger community for 
comment by early summer.

-- Jim Ulvestad

2. Physics GRE Scores

[This response to an item in our April 30 edition was submitted by a 
reader who requested anonymity. -- eds.]

In my nine years of experience as an assistant & associate professor in a 
large physics & astronomy department (the faculty are primarily physics 
oriented, but I am an astrophysicist), I have been actively involved in 
admitting and recruiting graduate students. My feeling is that a 
prospective graduate's score on the Physics GRE certainly is not a one 
to one predictor of what their success will be, but I feel strongly that 
a minimum score should be required to get into graduate school.  In my 
experience, that minimum score is somewhere between 25 to 35%. I've seen 
people with scores of 75% fail due to lack of motivation, and I've seen 
people with scores of 24% thrive because of their positive motivation. 
I feel comfortable admitting someone with a score of 25 to 35% if they 
had an A- or above average GPA in their physics and math classes, 
especially if there is a valid reason for their low score such as not 
having enough advanced physics classes in their coursework before taking 
the exam due to a switch in major, etc. We have had mixed success with
students in the 20 to 35% range. Some students bomb out, and some excel. 
Whether or not we admit someone with GRE scores in that range depends on 
whether our department needs graduate students. Over the last 2 years 
there has been a huge increase in the number of students wanting to 
attend graduate school (mostly because of the economic downturn), and I
suspect some schools may be raising the bar on Physics GRE scores for 
admission. I know that our department has. This is a factor to remember 
when advising undergraduates.

Its an important factor, too, if the average Physics GRE scores are 
different for men and women. Does anyone know of any studies that have 
been done along these lines?  Surely there are large enough numbers of 
women now taking the exam to make such a study statistically 
significant.  I'd love to see how the grade point average for physics
major graduates correlates with sex and Physics GRE score.

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