Date: Sun, 23 May 2004 19:30:12 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: AASWOMEN for May 14 & 21, 2004

AAS Committee on the Status of Women
Weekly issues of May 14 & 21, 2004
eds. Patricia Knezek, Michael Rupen, & Jim Ulvestad
This week's issues:
1. CSWA-related activities at the Denver AAS
2. Continued responses to the Physics GRE scores
3. Reports Identify Best Practices for Broadening Science &
   Engineering Diversity
4. Tuition Support for Undergraduates?
5. First Announcement: 2005 Aspen Winter Conference on "Planet Formation 
   and Detection"
6. Funding Strategies: Learn Where the Money Is and How to Get It 
7. Astronomy/Physics tenure track position at Borough of Manhattan 
   Community College
8. Tenure Track Faculty, Lehman College, The City University of New York
1. CSWA-related activities at the Denver AAS
From: Patricia Knezek

This promises to be an exciting meeting for women in astronomy!  First, we 
would like to bring to people's attention the invited talk "Hidden Losses: 
Alternatives to Faculty Careers in the Sciences Among Doctorally-Prepared 
Women" by Elaine Seymour (U. Colorado), on Thursday, June 3 at 8:30am in 
rooms 603/605/607 (session 68).  

We would then like to invite everyone to attend the special session entitled 
"The Astronomy Workforce" on Thursday, June 3 at 10:00am in room 601 
(session 83).  The CSWA is co-sponsoring this session with the Committee on 
the Status of Minorities in Astronomy (CSMA), and STATUS editor Fran Bagenal 
(U. Colorado) organized it.  The purpose of this special session is to 
present the demographics of the astronomy profession and discuss solutions 
(both institutional and personal) to the challenges posed by the evolution 
of the astronomy workforce.  Speakers include Rachel Ivie (AIP), Kevin Marvel
(AAS), and Fran Bagenal (U. Colorado).

After the special session on "The Astronomy Workforce", the CSWA will hold a
panel discussion on "Diversity  -- Next Steps" from 1:00-2:00pm, in Room 601.
We will report on the ongoing follow-up to the Women in Astronomy II (WIA II)
meeting held in June 2003, focusing on the progress made on the
recommendations we plan to present to the AAS Council in January 2005. These
cover areas such as family issues, changing the culture, and hiring practices,
as well as the special responsibilities, and opportunities afforded by small
and women's colleges, large institutions, and the workforce outside academia.
The panel will also include discussion on the reponse to the earlier talks, 
both by Elaine Seymour, and the speakers in "The Astronomy Workforce," and
what logical next steps might be.
2. Continued responses to the Physics GRE scores
[Eds. note: This continues the thread of discussion that began with an item
in our April 30 edition.]

About physics GRE scores:

I'd like to respond to the person who said they would use 24% on 
the Physics GRE as a cut-off. I took the physics GRE and placed 
in the 17% percentile -- as I recall I answered 2/3 of the 
questions and got half of them wrong. This was incredibly 
discouraging and drastically limited the places I could apply to 
but lucky for me, the North Carolina State Physics Department 
takes one or two "long shots" every year. I took a year of 
undergrad classes in grad school and took the qualifying exam -- 
which covers graduate E&M (Jackson), quantum (Sakuri) and classical 
mechanics (Goldstein) -- I got A's and B's in my graduate classes 
and I did extremely well on the qualifying exam -- currently I have 
an NSF Fellowship at NRAO Socorro.

Why did I do so poorly on the Physics GRE? I had a physics minor 
(my major is in studio art). In addition to the introductory courses 
my physics minor included: one semester of undergrad classical 
mechanics, one semester of "modern physics" (a pre-quantum lab course 
-- we measured Bragg scattering etc.) and two semesters of
"mathematical physics" (Boaz). When I took the test I was at 
University of Colorado trying to take enough courses to apply to 
graduate school. I took the GRE halfway through my first semester of 
undergrad E&M and a "real" undergrad quantum course.

However, even if I had left my liberal arts college (Mount Holyoke) 
with a major in physics, there still would have been questions on the 
exam that only a really dedicated university physics major might have 
been able to answer. There were questions that not only I couldn't 
answer, I didn't even know what class they might have come from (some 
of these were symbolic logic-gate questions, which I think would have 
required an electronics class).

We talked a lot at Mount Holyoke about whether it was worth it to study
specifically for the GRE -- How you did on the test affected where you 
could go to school but it was clear to us that we weren't learning ANY 
physics from studying for the test.  (Interestingly, many of the women 
felt it was wrong to waste your time just to get a better test score.)

You can probably see several problems with this:
-I should have gotten better advising on when to take the test.
-I would have benefited from coaching on that particular kind of test 
(As I recall you had 2 minutes per problem -- contrast this with the 
tests I took at Mount Holyoke which where take home and open book -- 
much better tests of what you UNDERSTOOD about physics).
-I should have attended a university rather than a liberal arts 
institution (I'm kidding here -- I wouldn't trade my education for 
higher test scores).

I highly recommend the article in STATUS by Howard Georgi who was head 
of the graduate program in physics at Harvard for several years.

He makes several points which I think are very relevant to my experience:

--In his experience women do worse on the physics GRE relative to their 
actual physics skills -- he found this to be true for the brightest of 
his undergraduate women students and for his best women graduate students.

--He finds that the people who do best on the physics GRE are "idiot 
savants" who rarely go on to make good scientists.

(The graduate advisor who admitted me to North Carolina State said that he
finds more correlation between the verbal GRE score and success in physics, 
than the physics GRE and sucess in physics, with the exception of 
non-native speakers.)

--He thinks that GRE skills can be taught and China does the best job at
teaching GRE skills -- but that they don't reflect a students achievements 
or understanding in physics.

--He suggests that the physics GRE be re-written from the ranking test 
that it is now (which requires problems not designed to be solved in 2 
minutes from obscure physics fields) to a test of competence where a 
"talented students with good undergraduate preparation should be able 
to answer ALL of the questions correctly in the time alloted".

I think that requires defining a core curriculum for the test -- and 
doing it in such a way that the liberal arts physics major is not 
discriminated against.

-- Kristy Dyer

Comment on Physics GREs:

It has been a few years since I last had to sift through graduate school
applications in physics but my (long) experience seems to have been similar
to that of the physics faculty member who responded to this question. People
in the 35 percentile are frequently acceptable (especially if they have had
good grades but poor physics background). Sometimes those with low GREs do
well but the "anecdotal" correlation with good graduate school success seems
to be high motivation, high energy (on the part of the student), AND a high
LANGUAGE ("general") GRE score! In short, good reading and comprehension
skills are very important!

Another important point is even more basic, however. It has been rumored for
decades that the BEST way to get a high physics GRE score is to study BASIC
PHYSICS (really understand the material and the logic of a good first year
text.) I have seen repeated cases of people who had every undergrad physics
course conceivable (and passed with good GPAs) who got scores in the 20 to
35 range on the Physics GREs (and did very boring work in grad school). In
every case where I knew the student well it was clear that they did well in
classes because they were good at feeding back "what the prof wanted" but
had no good overall view of Physics and no skills at logic and problem

Are these skills (or physics GREs) correlated with gender? Again my
"anecdotal" feeling (from decades of undergraduate teaching) is that 
problem solving skills and broad understanding are pretty well evenly 
divided amongst males and females. However, I have had lots of "successful" 
male students who lacked such skills and no successful female students who 
lacked them.

There are two possible ways to interpret the last observation:
1. "Girls" need to be as arrogant and "bloody minded" as boys to succeed in
hard science.
2. The world of science would be a far better place if all of the "self
assertive" boys dropped out like the "girls" do.

I shall not comment on which interpretation I prefer - but those who know me
well can guess!

Susan Simkin

3. Reports Identify Best Practices for Broadening Science &
   Engineering Diversity
From: Meg Urry & Patricia Knezek

"Underrepresented groups comprise nearly two-thirds of the overall
U.S. workforce yet only make up one-quarter of the science and
engineering workforce." - BEST Panel on Best Practices in Pre-K-12

An organization whose purpose is to broaden the diversity of the
science and engineering workforce has issued three reports addressing
this issue.  BEST (Building Engineering and Science Talent) recently 
released studies of best practices at the pre-K-12 level, in higher 
education, and in the workplace, for attracting and retaining women, 
underrepresented minorities, and persons with disabilities to science, 
technology, engineering and math (STEM) careers. The reports themselves,
as well as an executive summary of all three reports, can be found at:

4. Tuition Support for Undergraduates?
>From WIPHYS of May 11, 2004

Dear Wiphys,
I am writing to ask about fellowships and/or awards that women
undergraduates majoring in physics would be eligible to apply for to
help defray undergraduate tuition costs? Does anyone know of
such programs? Do professional societies e.g., the APS, have
anything along these lines?
Thank you!
Moderator's Note: there is a list of scholarships for women on the
CSWP's home page at .

5. First Announcement: 2005 Aspen Winter Conference on "Planet Formation 
   and Detection"
From: Fred Rasio

First Announcement: 2005 Aspen Winter Conference on "PLANET FORMATION 

February 6 - 12, 2005

Conference web site:


This conference will mark the 10th anniversary of the discovery of the first
extrasolar planet around a solar-like star (51 Pegasi). Many significant
advances have occurred in this field during the past decade, including the
introduction of fundamentally new theoretical paradigms for the formation
and evolution of planetary systems as well as countless discoveries of new
extrasolar planetary systems that have challenged many accepted models for
planet formation.

Three exciting new observational projects will have scientific results by
the beginning of 2005: the Spitzer Space Telescope, the Keck Interferometer
and the European Very Large Telescope Interferometer will have devoted a
large number of hours to studying the evolution of circumstellar disks.
Several large surveys for transiting planets should also come to fruition by
the end of 2004.


 Marc Kuchner, Dept of Astrophysical Sciences, Princeton University
 Phone: 609 258 6301. Email:

 Doug Lin, Dept of Astronomy, UCSC
 Phone: 831 459 2732 Email:

 Fred Rasio, Dept of Physics and Astronomy, Northwestern University
 Phone: 847 467 3419. Email:

 Alycia Weinberger, Dept of Terrestrial Magnetism, Carnegie Institution
 of Washington. Phone: 202 478 8852. Email:

 Main Topics
 - New observations of extrasolar planets from Doppler searches
 - Observations of protostellar disks
 - Results from transit searches
 - Planet detection by gravitational microlensing
 - Future detection techniques and projects
 - Grain growth in protostellar disks
 - Collisional evolution of planetesimal disks
 - Formation of protoplanetary cores and terrestrial planets
 - Giant planet formation and evolution
 - Planet migration theories
 - Role of resonances in planet migration
 - Long-term stability of planetary systems
 - Star-planet interactions
 - Debris disks
 - Planet formation in binary stars and stellar clusters

6. Funding Strategies: Learn Where the Money Is and How to Get It 
From: Ann Hornschemeier

Women & Girls In Technology (WGIT) is pleased to announce the upcoming
national conference call:

Funding Strategies: Learn Where the Money Is and How to Get It

May 25, 2004
9:00 AM to 10:00 AM HST
12:00 PM to 1:00 PM PDT
1:00 PM to 2:00 PM MDT
2:00 PM to 3:00 PM CDT
3:00 PM to 4:00 PM EDT

Your work is important and there's plenty of money to fund it, but to
succeed, your case must be compelling. Learn where the money is, what donors
are looking for, and how to position your work competitively. Author and
speaker Susan Howlett will offer solutions suited to YOU, your budget, your
skill set and your timeframe. Listen to the conference from the comfort of
your own office or home, or anywhere you have a telephone!

For more information and to register for this FREE teleconference call,

WGIT is currently made possible through a partnership between the University
of Washington Women's Center and the Puget Sound Center for Teaching,
Learning & Technology. WGIT was started in 2001 by the University of
Washington Women's Center, the U.S. Department of Labor Women's Bureau, and
Media Logic, Inc.

Mary Burton
Assistant Director
Diversity in Technology Group
Puget Sound Center for Teaching, Learning & Technology
21540 - 30th Dr. SE Suite 310
Bothell, WA 98021-7015
ph. 425-368-1020 ext. 1055

Sharon Fisher
Assistant to the Director
University of Washington Women?s Center
Cunningham Hall ? Box 351380
Seattle, WA 98195
206-685-1090 main
206-616-5216 direct

7. Astronomy/Physics tenure track position at Borough of Manhattan 
   Community College

Dear fellow astronomers,

I am writing to mention an astronomy/physics tenure track position open at
Borough of Manhattan Community College (of City University of New York
(CUNY)). It is the same position I have, so I can answer any questions
about the job such as how research fits into a school, a community college,
which traditionally hasn't had research requirements of their faculty, but
now does. Even though the deadline says August, they have already begun
interviews for the position (which *may* turn into two positions):

If you are or you know anyone who might be interested I encourage you to
let me know as well as to apply as soon as possible. The position begins
this coming Fall 2004.

Sincerely and best wishes,
Shana Tribiano
Borough of Manhattan Community College

8. Tenure Track Faculty, Lehman College, The City University of New York
>From WIPHYS of May 18, 2004

Lehman College invites applications for the position of Open Rank Tenure 
Track Faculty for the Department of Physics and Astronomy to teach 
undergraduate and graduate courses, develop active programs of funded 
research that involves both graduate and undergraduate students. Applications 
containing a curriculum vitae, list of publications, and names of three 
references should be submitted to: Prof. Eugene M. Chudnovsky, Chair, 
Department of Physics & Astronomy, Lehman College - CUNY, Bronx, NY 10468-1589. 
The position announcements, which include qualifications, and salary ranges 
are posted on the Lehman College web site at 
(Link to Job Opportunities).  Lehman College is an EEO/AA/IRCA/ADA Employer.