AAS Committee on the Status of Women
Issue of September 1, 2006
eds. Patricia Knezek, Jim Ulvestad, & Joan Schmelz
This week's issues:

1. How to be a Better Advisor

2. Women Aren't Good in Math . . . or Are They?

3. Tenure Clock Extension

4. Tenure Track Assistant Professor of Astronomy, Sonoma State University

5. KPNO Directorship

****** The following positions were taken from WIPHYS **********

6. Postdoctoral Opening in High Energy Theory, Michigan State University

7. Tenure-Track Faculty Position in Physics at Ursinus College

8. Program Director for LIGO, National Science Foundation

9. How to submit, subscribe, or unsubscribe to AASWOMEN

1. How to be a Better Advisor
From: Joan Schmelz [jschmelzmemphis.edu]

Last week I asked AASWOMEN to help me put together some advice for grad student 
advisors. The specific question was this: What does a male advisor do when his 
female grad student comes into his office and breaks into tears? 

Several people sent me information directly so I could assimilate it into an 
“advice column” and several specifically asked not to be quoted. So here is the 
compilation. I was also reminded that reactions to tears might be different in 
Europe, for example, so this advice is for those of us in US institutions. I 
would be interested to hear what you think. Is this advice ready to distribute 
to our male colleagues?

It is important to remember that tears come from pent up emotion, e.g., 
frustration, anger, or sadness. As an advisor, the most important thing you can 
do is LISTEN, not just when the problem has come to a head, but in general. Make 
your meetings into conversations, not just lessons. Ask questions that invite 
your students to think, not just test their knowledge.

This advice was originally compiled for male advisors and female grad students, 
but of course it works for any gender combination.

Here is a list of specific things to do when your grad student comes into your 
office and breaks into tears:

-- Drop what you’re doing and treat this situation seriously; give the student 
your full attention.

-- Hand the student the box of tissues that you (always!) keep in your office.

-- Say something reassuring like “take your time” or “we’ll sort this out 
together;” then give her time to collect herself.

-- There were mixed opinions about open/closed office door. If the door was 
originally opened and she closes it when she comes in, keep it closed. I 
personally would not suggest closing it, unless your office is in a corridor 
where there is no privacy. If there is a window in your door, do NOT block it.

-- It's not appropriate in the US for an advisor to initiate touch even in 
emotionally difficult situations, so no hugs.

-- If the phone rings, ignore it. If someone knocks on your door, tell them 
you’ll get back with them later.

-- The student will eventually calm down and tell you what’s wrong. Focus and 
listen. Don't interrupt. Never belittle either the student or the problem.

-- What you say next depends on the problem. There are several categories:

	- Personal: Suppose, for example, the student has just learned of a 
death in the family and wants to go home. Go online and get her a ticket. Take 
her to the airport, or get a friend to.

	- Work: Perhaps the student can't get past a bottleneck. Get her explain 
the work to you in detail. Say something like, "It's okay to be frustrated, 
these things can be difficult". If it's something that is difficult for you, 
commiserate with her.

	- Sexual harassment with a professor or another grad student: Every 
university has a plan. Know yours. Help her go through the procedure.

	- General unhappiness: Suggest counseling if it seems appropriate but be 
careful because she might be offended. Avoid acting like a therapist. You're not 
trained and it can get in the way of the work relationship. Help with the things 
you know how to do, like science. Suggest work habits, like making detailed 
outlines of papers, etc. 

Contributions from Cara Rakowski, Mordecai-Mark Mac Low, and several anonymous 
sources are greatly appreciated.

Joan Schmelz
Physics Department
University of Memphis

2. Women Aren't Good in Math . . . or Are They?
From: Amy Simon-Miller [simonlepasm.gsfc.nasa.gov]

There is an interesting article in the Washington Post - it highlights a study 
that shows how gender achievement gaps on math tests can be manipulated by the 
classification "pre-questions" on those tests (things like gender, ethnicity, 

Women Aren't Good in Math . . . or Are They?

By Richard Morin
Thursday, August 31, 2006


3. Tenure Clock Extension
From: Rowena Malbon [r.k.malbondurham.ac.uk]

One idea related to tenure-clock extension - Tenure clocks of N years could be 
extended for X years (at pay reduced by factor N/(N+X) ) on request, with the 
expectation that in return the faculty member (if they are awarded tenure) will 
be likely to work on for X years after the usual retirement age, to keep 
constant the benefit the department is likely to accrue post-tenure.

I do not fully understand the politics of tenure, so perhaps this may not be a 
good idea (i.e. staying on past the usual retirement age is a liability 
financially for the University, leaves fewer tenure lines open for new blood 
etc.) My motivation for this suggestion was that (realistically & statistically 
speaking) it is more likely to be female faculty members who are likely to wish 
to extend their tenure clock (due to often assuming a greater responsibility for 
childrearing & other family commitments), and that females have a longer life 
expectancy than males by around 5 years, so would more likely be willing & able 
to work productively beyond the usual retirement age. But such a scheme should 
of course be open to all, irrespective of gender (it is very common for 
scientists to continue working productively into old age).

4. Tenure Track Assistant Professor of Astronomy, Sonoma State University
From: Lynn Cominsky [lynncuniverse.sonoma.edu]

The Department of Physics and Astronomy invites applications for a faculty 
position in observational astronomy beginning in August 2007. The successful 
candidate will have a Ph.D. in astronomy, physics or a closely-related field, a 
demonstrated record of excellence in undergraduate teaching and be actively 
involved in research in astronomy, astronomy education or a related field.  

In particular, we are interested in individuals who can create undergraduate 
research projects that will utilize the Sonoma State University Observatory 
(SSUO), and/or the NASA-funded GLAST Optical Robotic Telescope (GORT), and who 
are capable of teaching a wide variety of courses, including descriptive 
astronomy and other astronomy courses as well as upper division physics courses. 
Experience with astronomical instrumentation and the ability to assume the 
Directorship of SSUO are essential. For complete information, see the detailed 
Position Opportunity Announcement at: 


SSU is an equal opportunity employer.

5. KPNO Directorship
From: Karen Kwitter [Karen.B.Kwitterwilliams.edu]

In case AASWOMEN subscribers have not seen this:


JOB #778

The National Optical Astronomical Observatory (NOAO) seeks an astronomer with 
outstanding accomplishments in research and research leadership to head the Kitt 
Peak National Observatory (KPNO) as its Director.
The U.S. national observatory's research facilities on Kitt Peak include the 
Mayall 4 meter telescope, the WIYN 3.6 meter telescope and a number of smaller 
telescopes. Kitt Peak also hosts a number of tenant observatories and provides 
services to some of them. See


KPNO is operated on land leased by the NSF from the Tohono O¹odham Nation. The 
Director of KPNO is based in Tucson, Arizona and is normally a tenured member of 
the scientific staff.
The successful candidate will hold a PhD in Astronomy, Astrophysics, or a 
related field; will be creative and experienced in providing scientific and 
engineering support, teamwork, and leadership to peers, as well as mentorship to 
more junior colleagues; and will be involved in research at the frontier of 
astronomy. He/she will have a record of accomplishment in providing user support 
for a major research facility, interfacing with the community and specific 
projects, when needed, and will have the ability to lead approximately 50 
engineers, technicians and scientists. Experience in the development of 
innovative instrument concepts is desirable. It is expected that the candidate 
will be able to carry out a program of research in astronomy.
NOAO’s long-range plan, including that for KPNO, is on the web at


The focus is on implementing recommendations from the recent decadal survey on 
large telescopes of the present and future and on the U.S. observing system as a 
The KPNO Director reports to the NOAO Director, and is an Associate Director of 
NOAO. The Director of KPNO is responsible, with the other Directors, for 
developing NOAO¹s strategic plan in concert with the Observatory Council and 
NOAO¹s advisory committees.
NOAO offers an excellent benefits package, competitive salary commensurate with 
experience, and an extremely attractive work environment. Applicants should 
submit to the HR Manager a curriculum vitae, a publication list, a statement of 
recent research experience, a statement of relevant management and service 
experience, a description of future plans, and the names of three references. In 
addition, applicants are invited to discuss their interest by phone with the 
NOAO Director, Dr. Jeremy Mould (520-318-8281) or the Search Committee chair, 
Dr. Karen Kwitter, (kkwitterwilliams.edu).
Send materials electronically to hrnoaonoao.edu 
(preferred) or to the address below.
Please submit materials by September 22, 2006. Applications will be accepted 
until the position is filled.
Make reference to the Job Title & Job Number when submitting any materials

Send resume to:

Human Resources Office
National Optical Astronomy Observatory
P.O. Box 26732
Tucson, Arizona 85726-6732
Email: hrnoaonoao.edu
FAX: 520-318-8494

6. Postdoctoral Opening in High Energy Theory, Michigan State University
From: WIPHYS August 31, 2006 

The High Energy Theory group at Michigan State University anticipates filling a 
postdoctoral position to start in the Fall of 2007. The High Energy Theory group 
at MSU currently consists of eight faculty members: Sekhar Chivukula, Jon 
Pumplin, Wayne Repko, Carl Schmidt, Elizabeth Simmons, Dan Stump, Wu-Ki Tung, 
and C.-P. Yuan, as well as postdoctoral fellows and several graduate students.  
Ongoing research encompasses QCD theory and phenomenology, electroweak symmetry 
breaking mechanisms, supersymmetry and other beyond-the-standard-model 
scenarios, cosmology, and collider phenomenology. 

The group has close interactions with an active Michigan State HEP experimental 
group and has a strong participation in CTEQ -- a  national collaboration of 
theorists and experimentalists (

http:// www.pa.msu.edu/hep/cteq/

The Physics/Astronomy Department at MSU has 60 faculty members; it has strong 
research programs in Condensed Matter Physics, Nuclear Physics, and Astronomy, 
in addition to High Energy Physics. 


Applicants should submit a CV, research plan, and publication list, and have 
three letters of recommendation sent to:

Prof. R. Sekhar Chivukula
HET Postdoctoral Search
Department of Physics and Astronomy
3243 Biomedical Physical Sciences
Michigan State University
East Lansing, MI 48824

Review of applications will begin in December 2006 and will continue until the 
position is filled.

Michigan State University is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action employer 
and applications from women and minorities are encouraged.

7. Tenure-Track Faculty Position in Physics at Ursinus College
From: WIPHYS August 31, 2006 

Ursinus College invites applications for a tenure-track Assistant Professor in 
the Department of Physics and Astronomy, beginning Fall 2007. PhD required. We 
seek a physicist with a strong commitment to excellence in undergraduate 
teaching in a liberal arts setting, who will establish an ongoing program of 
scholarly research involving undergraduate students; startup funds are 
available. Teaching responsibilities will include introductory and advanced 
physics courses and laboratories, as well as interdisciplinary courses such as 
the College's Liberal Studies Seminar for first-year students. 

Ursinus College is a highly selective, independent, co-educational residential 
liberal arts college of 1500 students located about 25 miles northwest of center 
city Philadelphia. The College emphasizes student achievement and strongly 
supports student-faculty research collaborations. The department shares 
outstanding recently-renovated teaching and research facilities with chemistry, 
mathematics, and computer science. 

Send a letter of interest, with statements of teaching philosophy and research 
plans, vitae, graduate and undergraduate transcripts, and three letters of 
recommendation to Dr. Lew Riley, Chair, Search Committee, Department of Physics 
and Astronomy, Ursinus College, Collegeville, PA 19426-1000. Please do not 
submit applications electronically. Review of completed applications will begin 
on November 15 and continue until the position is filled. Ursinus College is an 
EO/AA employer. Women and minorities are especially encouraged to apply.

8. Program Director for LIGO, National Science Foundation
From: WIPHYS August 30, 2006 

Announcement No: E20060125     
Open: 08/23/06      Close: 09/06/06
Position Vacant: Program Director AD-4. 
Annual salary ranges from
$91,407 to $142,449.
Location: Directorate for Mathematical and Physical Sciences, Division of 
Physics, Gravitational Physics Program, Arlington, VA.  

Duties and Responsibilities: This position is located in the Directorate for 
Mathematical and Physical Sciences, Division of Physics, Director for the 
Gravitational Physics Program, with major oversight responsibility for the Laser 
Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO).  

This is a permanent position.  Details can be found at the URL: 


9. How to submit, subscribe, or unsubscribe to AASWOMEN

[Please remember to replace "" in the below e-mail addresses.]

To submit to AASWOMEN:
   send email to aaswomenaas.org
All material sent to that address will be posted unless you tell us otherwise 
(including your email address).
To subscribe to AASWOMEN:
   send email to majordomoaas.org, with 
message in the BODY subscribe aaswlist yourusernameyouraddress
To unsubscribe to AASWOMEN:
   send email to majordomoaas.org, with 
message in the BODY unsubscribe aaswlist yourusernameyouraddress