AAS Committee on the Status of Women
Weekly issue of February 11, 2005
eds. Patricia Knezek, Jim Ulvestad, & Lisa Frattare
This week's issues:

1. Pasadena Recommendations - Institutional Policies

2. "Diminished By Discrimination We Scarcely See" by Meg Urry

3. AWIS National Conference on Women in Science and Engineering

4. Follow-up to "For Some Girls, The Problem with Math Is That They're
   Good At It"

5. "Same Difference" by Rosalind Barnett and Caryl Rivers

6. Helpful Scholarship Information

7. Second International Conference on Women in Physics

8. Gender neutral physics book on relativity

9. CNN article on flexibility for the tenure system

10. ALMA Project Scientist - ESO/NRAO
11. How to submit, subscribe, or unsubscribe to AASWOMEN

1. Pasadena Recommendations - Institutional Policies
From: Committee on the Status of Women in Astronomy

As stated in previous issues of AASWOMEN, we will be using this space to
provide the text of the Pasadena Recommendations on Equity in Astronomy,
endorsed by the AAS Council on January 9, 2005. In this edition, we give
the recommendations on institutional policies.

C. Institutional Policies  

Institutions have a responsibility to change the face of our profession, by
developing and implementing policies that are friendly to women and that
ensure equal access to all benefits and opportunities that will help them
advance in their careers. Many institutions have policies that are limited in
scope or outdated. This is particularly important in view of the "tidal wave"
of young women currently at the entry level in astronomy; note that more than
50% of AAS members 18-23 years of age are women, but the fraction of women
decreases systematically at later career stages. Consistent policies that are
supportive of diversity, among institutions that grant degrees in astronomy or
employ astronomers, play a critical role in "leveling the playing field" for
women astronomers. 


1. All institutions should establish and promote strong policies and training
in the areas of sexual harassment and general ethics, including clear
complaint paths and accountability, taking care that these policies apply both
to permanent employees and to short-term visitors (e.g., students and visiting

2. Institutions should endorse and implement the Statement on Gender Equity in
Academic Science and Engineering signed by the presidents of MIT, Harvard,
Yale, Princeton, Penn, Michigan, Stanford, Berkeley, and Caltech in January
2001. The AAS should maintain a public list of institutions and organizations
that endorse this Statement. 

3. Members of the departments granting degrees in astronomy or employing
astronomers should work proactively with their institutions to establish
policies that allow all department members access to affordable health and
childcare. This access should not be reserved only for faculty, but be
extended to  graduate students, post docs, research and administrative staff
as well. 

4. All job applicants should be made aware of institutional policies and
benefits (e.g., health care, childcare, leave policies, spousal/partner hire
policies, spousal/partner job search assistance, and retirement) provided at
all levels. 

2. "Diminished By Discrimination We Scarcely See" by Meg Urry
From: Meg Urry meg.urryyale.edu

[This article by Meg appeared in the Washington Post on February 6, 2005
 - Eds.]

I came of age when discrimination was a thing of the past, or so I thought.
True, there were not many women in my college physics classes, but I figured
that was just a matter of time. And although we had all heard horror stories
about women being excluded because they were women, those predated the
feminist movement of the '60s and the anti-discrimination legislation of the
'70s. None of my peers or professors in the early '80s would ever have said
out loud, "Women can't do physics as well as men" even though some think it
and Harvard University President Larry Summers suggested as much last month.
 Still, I can remember a few uncomfortable moments. As a physics grad student
25 years ago at Johns Hopkins University, I once found pictures of naked men
on my desk. As one of the few women at professional meetings when I was a grad
student, and then a postdoc, the attention I got from male colleagues wasn't
always about science. One professor used to address the graduate quantum
mechanics class as "gentlemen and Meg." So I knew that my gender identified
me. I just didn't think the distinction amounted to discrimination. It wasn't
until a few years ago, after I became a tenured professor at one of the
world's top universities, that I finally realized it was discrimination all
  That's the thing: Discrimination isn't a thunderbolt, it isn't an abrupt
slap in the face. It's the slow drumbeat of being underappreciated, feeling
uncomfortable and encountering roadblocks along the path to success. These
subtle distinctions help make women feel out of place.
 And some are not so subtle! When I was a young astrophysics postdoc at MIT
(and the only female postdoc), one weekly colloquium speaker began his talk
about the importance of high resolution in optical imaging with a badly
out-of-focus slide. As he sharpened the focus to make his point, a topless
woman in a grass skirt on a Hawaiian beach gradually appeared. The male
students laughed, while the one other woman in the room shared an appalled
look with me before standing up and walking out.
  No one ever told this speaker that his choice of slide was inappropriate. I
intended to talk to him afterward, but I left the talk after about 20 minutes,
having realized that I hadn't heard a word he'd said. Ironically, a few years
later the speaker won the Tinsley prize from the American Astronomical
Society, named in honor of a brilliant late-20th-century woman astronomer at
Yale University.
  I loved MIT, but it could be a harsh environment for women 20 years ago.
(It's changed a lot!) I remember two professors having a dinner conversation
in my presence about the inferiority of women scientists who had been hired
because of affirmative action. (When I mentioned this to the man who'd hired
me, he hastened to assure me that it didn't apply to me.) My ambition to be an
academic was sometimes met with encouragement, but one male professor told me,
"Oh, we would never hire you." And discouragement always makes a bigger
impression than encouragement.
  During my postdoc career, I started wondering why women weren't getting
hired into faculty positions. I'd been told, from graduate school on, that I'd
have no trouble getting ahead: I was a woman, people would come after me. When
they didn't, I subliminally absorbed the idea that I wasn't good enough. But
was it possible that all the women getting physics and astronomy degrees from
top institutions weren't good enough? I saw precious few being hired into
faculty jobs.
  For some reason, I hung in there. Maybe it was the strong support from my
parents and from the fellow physicist I married, who took on half (and
sometimes more than half) the responsibilities of child rearing. He doesn't
"help" -- we share. Our two daughters, Amelia (nearly 14) and Sophia (11)
carry both our last names, as their middle and last names, but in alternate
order. We made it equal, start to finish.
  But work was never equal. When I told my thesis adviser I was pregnant, he
said, "So, you want to have it all!" I smiled but later thought, Wait a
minute, isn't that what all you guys have? Why is it "all" for me and "normal"
for you?
  Over the years, I saw women in the scientific world treated badly, being
marginalized, mistreated, harassed. One woman manager I know was
second-guessed, unlike any of the male managers, and when she pointed this
out, was told she was depressed and should get professional help. Another told
me it had become routine for her to cry while driving home from work. Every
woman I know has had her suggestions ignored in a mainly male meeting, only to
hear the same idea praised when later raised by a man.
  Hey, bad things happen. But feeling out of place over and over again
eventually soaks in; it did for me. About a decade ago, frustrated and
alienated, I approached the director of my institution to ask about special
management training for women: Maybe there were tips that would help me
navigate the foreign waters in which I found myself. He didn't seem to
understand. I said, "You know, it's like being the red fish in the sea of blue
fish -- I want to understand the blue-fish rules." "Oh," he answered. "Maybe
it's not your lack of training, Meg, maybe it's just your difficult
  After enough of this kind of thing, women feel beaten down and
underappreciated, or worse, they feel incapable. That's the most insidious
thing. After years of being passed over, ignored, and insulted, we start
wondering what we are doing wrong. Maybe if I had made the suggestion
differently, it would have been heard. Maybe if I lowered my voice and spoke
more slowly, I would get more respect. Maybe -- even though I published many
papers, did seminal work in more than one field, brought in big grants, had
successful students and postdocs -- maybe I wasn't a good enough scientist.
  It was easier to see what was happening to other women than to me. My good
friend Anne Kinney (now "Director of the Universe" at NASA -- how's that for a
title?) said in an after-dinner speech to a conference on women in astronomy
that she'd never had a five-year plan because there were no women five years
ahead of her. Her speech was very funny and I laughed a lot, but I didn't
think it applied to me, exactly. Weeks later, it dawned on me that I'd never
had a five-year plan either -- and for much the same reason.
  I watched women around me, especially young women, who were smart and keen
to work hard, but who, after a few years in grad school or after a
discouraging spell as a postdoc, decided maybe they weren't cut out for
science, or maybe they would find a non-academic job, or maybe they'd get
married and have a family rather than a research career.
 I have no problem with any of these choices. What troubles me, though, is
that I rarely saw men making them, especially the choice to stay home with
kids. I think some women use "family" as an excuse to leave science when
science actually drives them away.
 This is a huge loss for our country -- these women PhDs are some of the best
scientists we train. We need their talent.
  In my field, physics and astronomy, women still make up a small percentage
of active scientists -- about 7 percent of physics faculty are female and
about 12 percent of astronomers. Those percentages are increasing, but slowly.
So I grew up with almost no women professors. When I first heard of Beatrice
Tinsley -- who came to the United States in 1964 from New Zealand with a
master's in physics, created an entire sub-field of astronomy, finished her
thesis under adverse circumstances and by all accounts was an incredible
person -- I felt the kind of relief that a child raised by wolves must feel
when she first sees a human being.
  Physics has fewer women than other scientific disciplines. I think it may be
because physics is more hierarchical, more aggressive than other areas.
("Combat physics," a friend of mine calls it.) Physicists act as if they are
better and smarter than everyone else. The standard for excellence is to be
the best in the world -- and that seems pretty boastful to polite girls raised
not to brag.
  When I expressed ambition, though, I sometimes got put back down. I
suggested I was ready to be tenured -- "Be patient, Meg, it's too early for
you." I mentioned I was interested in a high-level national committee --
"Isn't that a bit ambitious, Meg?" I expressed interest in a promotion:
"You're not a leader, no one would follow you."
  Social scientists like Virginia Valian of Hunter College have developed a
lot of evidence showing that women and men are treated and evaluated
differently. Yet physicists reject the possibility that scientists are not
objective. I learned about the lack of objectivity the hard way -- through
  On hiring committees or tenure and promotion committees I served on, we'd
evaluate men and women, and somehow the women seldom came out on top. They
were "good," even "very good" but the men were always better. Some of this was
caused by letters of recommendation. Every woman was always compared to other
women, as if every woman scientist is female first and a scientist second.
Also, women's letters were somehow more pedestrian -- the candidate "works
hard" and she "has a nice personality," "gets along well with others." Once
you see the patterns, you realize that these evaluations reflect people's
expectations more than reality.
  As I got more educated about the abundant social science research, I got
more frustrated: The answers were there, if only physicists and astronomers
would read the literature. So I made it easier. I organized conferences to
talk about these issues. We held that first conference on Women in Astronomy
in 1992 and wrote the Baltimore Charter, a kind of manifesto for change
(www.stsci.edu/stsci/meetings/WiA/BaltoCharter.html). In 2003 we organized a
second meeting, from which the Pasadena Recommendations have just been
produced (www.aas.org/cswa/).
  It's been slow, but we've made progress, and we're making a difference. More
young women are flocking to science every year. It's a great life, after all,
doing something you love, having control of your time, being paid pretty well.
 And, however slowly, the barriers women face are being abraded. The American
Astronomical Society and American Physical Society, my professional
organizations, have been immensely forward thinking. As for me, Yale hired me
with tenure four years ago and treats me wonderfully. My science has never
been better. I bet some people say I got this job because I'm female. But now
that I've been around awhile, I'm finally able to say, confidently, that I'm
really great at this job. I'm lucky to be here at Yale, yes, but even more,
they are really lucky to have me. The doubt is finally going away.
 Author's e-mail: meg.urryyale.edu
 Meg Urry is a professor of physics and the director of the Yale Center for
Astronomy and Astrophysics.

3. AWIS National Conference on Women in Science and Engineering
>From WIPHYS of February 7, 2005

A conference on Women in Science and Engineering is being planned for 
June 23-24, 2005, at Smith College in Northampton, MA. The purpose is to 
assess the progress made on the seven recommendations from the 1995 NSF 
Conference on Women in Science, to discuss the data presented and select 
the most important barriers to the success of women in their STEM careers 
that remain, and to make recommendations for a research agenda for the next 
decade. Topics will be useful for corporate managers and academic 
administrators, STEM researchers, faculty, graduate students, and those 
interested in helping women scientists and engineers achieve full potential 
in their careers. Speakers will include Shirley Jackson of Rensselaer 
Polytechnic Institute and Rita Colwell, former Director of the National 
Science Foundation.  Registration is at 
and will open February 1, 2005. The fees are $150 for AWIS members; $195 
for non-members; $125 for students/post-docs. 

4. Follow-up to "For Some Girls, The Problem with Math Is That They're
   Good At It"

[Some people had difficulty locating this article on the New York Times
web page.  It was an essay by Cornelia Dean published on February 1, 2005.
The link to it is:
Note that after seven days, the New York Times charges a fee to download
an article. - Eds]

5. "Same Difference" by Rosalind Barnett and Caryl Rivers
>From WIPYS of February 8, 2005

I would strongly recommend to your readers a chapter in the
book"Same Difference" by Rosalind Barnett and Caryl Rivers,
published by Basic Books. The chapter is titled "Do the Math" and
does a marvelous job of analyzing the statistics that seem to show
that females are not as able as males in mathematics. It should be
required reading for every high school math teacher, especially

Geraldine Karpel
El Camino College

6. Helpful Scholarship Information
From: Anonymous

The thought of getting scholarships has always been confusing for me and the
site below helped me understand what I should do and helped me avoid 
scholarship scams. I felt it might help other students as well.


7. Second International Conference on Women in Physics
>From WIPHYS of February 9, 2005

Inviting Applications for Members of US Delegation to the Second
International Conference on Women in Physics.

The first International Conference on Women in Physics held in
Paris in March 2002 brought considerable visibility and attention to
the issue of women in physics (and related fields) around the world.
The Second International Conference on Women in Physics is
scheduled to be held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil from May 23-26,
2005, as part of the World Year of Physics: WYP2005.
Details are available at http://www.cbpf.br/women-physics. The
second conference is dual themed: Women in Physics: Advancing
Participation and Sharing Research Contributions.

The purpose of the conference is to bring together physicists
(mostly but not exclusively women) from at least 40 countries to
review data on women in physics, discuss barriers, share success
stories, propose ways to improve participation globally, share
physics research progress and results, and help teams refine and
accelerate appropriate strategies to improve the status of women in
physics in their home countries and internationally. Attendance of
about 150 to 200 physicists (both women and men) is planned.

A subcommittee of the Committee on the Status of Women in
Physics will select two additional members of the 3-member US
Delegation and four early-career individuals to attend the
conference. Applicants are requested to submit a CV (not to
exceed 2 pages), a brief (100 word) abstract of the research they
would present, and a brief (<500 word) statement on why they
want to participate, what contributions they have made to broaden
participation in physics/science, and what benefits they anticipate
resulting to them, to their school/organization, and more generally
to the physics community in the US from their participation.

The selected individuals will be expected to help prepare and
present the US Poster and paper, to prepare an abstract and a
poster of their own research, and commit to participating in follow-
up action and dissemination. Early career participants could be
graduate students, post-doctoral fellows, or within the first eight
years of their post-PhD career (a break taken for family or military
service is not included in the eight years). We welcome applications
from women and men, and hope to create an intellectually,
geographically, professionally, and ethnically diverse team. We
have applied for travel funding for all team members.

Please send application materials electronically as .pdf or .doc files
to ksbudilllnl.gov by February 28, 2005.

8. Gender neutral physics book on relativity
From: Sarah Stevens-Rayburn librarystsci.edu

Someone just donated a textbook on relativity from 1992. In looking it
over to decide whether to keep it or not, my mind was made up by the
following note on the verso of the title page:

"Both males and females make compentent observers. We ordinarily treat
the laboratory observer as male and the rocket observer as female.
Beyond this, to avoid alternating "his" and "her" in a single chapter,
we use female pronouns for an otherwise undesignated observer in
odd-numbered chapters and male pronouns in even-numbered chapters."

Spacetime physics : introduction to special relativity by Edwin F. Taylor,
John Archibald Wheeler. Edition: 2nd ed. New York: W.H. Freeman, c1992.

9. CNN article on flexibility for the tenure system
From: Amy Simon-Miller simonlepasm.gsfc.nasa.gov

[This article covers a new report produced by the American Council on
Education and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation in conjunction with ten
university presidents and chancellors. - Eds.]


10. ALMA Project Scientist - ESO/NRAO
From: Tavia Dillon tdillonnrao.edu

The Atacama Large Millimeter Array (ALMA) is an international astronomy
facility. ALMA is an equal partnership between Europe and North America,
in cooperation with the Republic of Chile. It is funded in North America
by the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) in cooperation with the
National Research Council of Canada (NRC), and in Europe by the European
Southern Observatory (ESO) and Spain. ALMA construction and operations
are led on behalf of North America by the National Radio Astronomy
Observatory (NRAO), which is managed by Associated Universities, Inc.
(AUI), and on behalf of Europe by ESO. ALMA will be a
millimeter-submillimeter wave interferometer consisting of an array of
12m diameter antennas located on the Chajnantor Altiplano in the Atacama
Desert of northern Chile. ALMA will be equipped initially with
dual-polarization receivers covering 4 atmospheric windows: 84 - 119
GHz, 211 - 275 GHz, 275 - 370 GHz, and 602 - 720 GHz. The above
mentioned parties/partners created the Joint ALMA Office (JAO) which is
responsible for the overall leadership and management of construction,
commissioning, and operation of the ALMA Observatory. In addition the
National Astronomical Observatory of Japan (NAOJ) will contribute
additional antennas and receivers to the project.

ESO/NRAO are now seeking applications for an ALMA Project Scientist, who
will be part of the staff of the JAO. The Project Scientist is
responsible for ensuring that ALMA is constructed, commissioned and
operated in such a manner as to meet the scientific requirements of the
ALMA Agreement.

Essential duties and responsibilities:
* Defining and maintaining the top-level scientific requirements
and scope of the project.
* Establishing the scientific requirements for the ALMA system,
working in conjunction with the IPT Leaders, and their Deputies.
* Together with the European PS, North American PS and Japanese PS
leading the global effort of the Science IPT
* Setting scientific requirements for various discipline areas
* Final responsibility of reviewing and monitoring compliance of
all ALMA documents with the scientific requirements
* Responsible for the ALMA commissioning
* Responsible for the ALMA scientific activities in Santiago

The ALMA Project Scientist reports to the ALMA Director.

Education and/or Experience: The ALMA Project Scientist will have a
Ph.D. in astronomy, astrophysics, or a related field as well as an
established record of scientific and technical publication. The ALMA
Project Scientist must have at least 10 years of prior experience in
astronomical observatory science operations, with at least five years in
a leadership role. Knowledge and experience in radio astronomical
interferometry as well as international scientific projects is highly
desirable. Strong leadership, excellent communication skills, and an
excellent command of the English language are essential.

Duty Station: Santiago de Chile. Frequent travel to the different
locations where ALMA construction is performed is required.

Starting date: As soon as possible.

Contract: The initial contract is for a period of three years with the
possibility of a fixed-term extension or permanence.

All applications should include the names of five individuals willing to
serve as professional references for the applicant. Applications should
be sent to the Personnel Office, at either of the following addresses:
ESO, Karl-Schwarzschild-Str. 2, Garching, D-85748, Germany; or NRAO*,
520 Edgemont Road, Charlottesville VA 22903 USA. A Search Committee will
begin reviewing applications on March 15, 2005. Applications will be
considered until the position is filled.

Remuneration: ALMA Key Personnel will be hired as employees of either
ESO or AUI/NRAO. ESO and AUI/NRAO offer attractive remuneration packages
including a competitive salary, comprehensive social benefits, and
provide financial support in relocating families. Furthermore, an
expatriation allowance as well as some other allowances may be added.

*The National Radio Astronomy Observatory is operated by Associated
Universities, Inc. (AUI) under cooperative agreement with the National
Science Foundation. Further information is available on www.nrao.edu.
The NRAO is an equal opportunity employer (M/F/H/V).

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