AAS Committee on the Status of Women 
Issue of March 16, 23 & 30, 2007 
eds. Joan Schmelz, Geoffrey Clayton, & Hannah Jang-Condell 
  
This week's issues: 
 
1. Women in Canadian Astronomy: Fifteen Years of Hard Data 
 
2. M. Hildred Blewett Scholarship for Women Physicists 
 
3. Query: Gender Gap in Physics 
 
4. WIPHYS Discussion Thread: Childcare at APS Meetings 
 
5. Postdoctoral Research Associate at CTIO 
 
6. How to submit, subscribe, or unsubscribe to AASWOMEN 
 
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1. Women in Canadian Astronomy: Fifteen Years of Hard Data 
From: Geoff Clayton [gclaytonfenway.phys.lsu.edu] 
 
From the Spring equinox issue of E-Cass, the newsletter of the Canadian 
Astronomical Society: 
 
Michael A. Reid 
Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, Submillimeter Array Project 
mareidsma.hawaii.edu 
and 
Brenda C. Matthews 
National Research Council of Canada, Herzberg Institute of Astrophysics 
brenda.matthewsnrc-cnrc.gc.ca 
 
Achieving diversity within the Canadian astronomical community is 
of interest to individual scientists, academic departments, funding 
agencies, and society as a whole. However, until recently, there had been 
no coordinated effort to study the gender demographics of the Canadian 
astronomical community. In 2001, we gathered and presented such demographic 
information for the period from 1991-2000. The present work reports the 
results of our follow-up survey, conducted in 2006, which covers the 
period from 2000-2005. We find that the representation of women in Canadian 
astronomy has improved markedly over the last five years. We also find that 
the size of the Canadian astronomical community has grown substantially 
over the same period. The improving representation of women remains 
strongest at the lowest levels of academia, with smaller gains achieved 
at each stage of advancement. We find that women are being hired into 
faculty positions at a rate approximately consistent with their 
representation in the applicant pool. 
 
You can see the whole report at: 
http://chris.kingsu.ca/%7Ebrian/astro/ecass/issues/2007-ve/features/matthews/WIA_Survey2.pdf 
 
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2. M. Hildred Blewett Scholarship for Women Physicists 
From: WIPHYS March 22, 2007 
 
The M. Hildred Blewett Scholarship for Women in Physics consists of an 
award of up to $45,000 to enable women to return to physics research 
careers after having had to interrupt those careers for family reasons. 
Details at: 
 
http://www.aps.org/programs/women/scholarships/blewett/index.cfm 
 
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3. Query: Gender Gap in Physics 
From: WIPHYS March 22, 2007 
 
Dear Established Women Physicists, 
 
People are continually questioning why there are so few women in PhD 
programs for physics. The last time any mention of a gender gap in the 
physics occurred was part of the 1996 study done by people at Texas A&M. 
It's 10 years later and a gender gap still exists in a test which is 
integral to graduate school admissions. Why? 
  
I would like to inquire why established women physicists haven't done 
anything to go about eradicating this exam as an entrance factor to 
graduate programs. Why should women be labeled as 'lower scorers' or 
expectations lowered on account of this exam? If the exam under estimates 
women's abilities in physics, why are we still using it? Many universities 
have indicated the GRE score is correlated with the qualifying exam. 
Lowered expectations of women entering graduate programs because of the 
score are I would think at the root of subtle gender discrimination.  
  
The problem I am finding regarding women entering graduate programs is 
two-fold:  
 
a) If the graduate schools are keeping the percentage of women in the 
entering or admitted class the same as the applicant pool, that means that 
women are no more likely to be accepted than men. Here are some numbers: 
if women make up 14% of an applicant pool of 700 people for a top physics 
university that has 40 seats, then 98 women are applying for 6 spots and 
602 men are applying for 34 spots. This means the women have a 6.1% 
chance and the men have a 5.6% chance. A .5 % greater chance is next to 
nothing and to me the probabilities are comparable. The problem therein 
lies in the selected group of the 98 women as compared to any other of 
the space of all 98 person cross-sections in the applicant pool. If women 
are technically only competing with each other, then the cross-section 
of this group is in all likelihood above average or more competitive than 
most of all 98 person cross-sections of the pool irrespective of gender. 
That is, it might be likely that the men have a wider variance and the 
women are more narrowly defined but of a higher caliber then most of the 
98 person male groups. If that is true, it is effectively more difficult 
for women to be admitted. 
  
b) Back to the physics GRE. The gender gap in scores had been reported 
to be anywhere from 80 to 150 points lower on average for the women. In 
this case, the competitive schools can simply choose to ignore the 
gender gap and accept the higher scoring women, whereas men can get 
accepted closer to the mean in the male scores. Hence, women would have 
to be way above the score mean for the women and the men having scored 
in higher ranges can be lower relative to the mean for the men. This 
also effectively makes in harder for women to be admitted. 
  
Maybe I am missing something, but it does not appear to be easier for 
women to get admitted, but more difficult based on the assumptions 
made. Have any established women physicists addressed these issues.  
  
From, 
Concerned future scientist 
Replies may go to Jenn Bush  
physicsmetooyahoo.com 
 
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4. WIPHYS Discussion Thread: Childcare at APS Meetings 
From: WIPHYS March 20, 2007 
 
At the March Meeting in Denver a few weeks ago, I noticed more children 
and babies in attendance than before. My observations may be biased, 
because I also had my one-year-old and husband there. But noticing 
the other babies having to play on the floor in the hallway and trying 
to find some place to nurse my son made me realize how difficult it can 
be to attend a conference with children. I didn't have too much trouble 
because my husband was along as a care-giver, but many people wouldn't 
have that flexibility. 
 
I sent an email after the meeting to the APS Meetings department asking 
them to consider some options to help people with children (even just 
providing a room designated for children). 
 
Have any of you brought up this issue before? Does anyone have any 
experience with a conference which did provide some sort of accommodations 
for children? Are there concrete things we can suggest to conference 
organizers that would really be helpful? 
 
Susan Y. Lehman 
Clare Boothe Luce Assistant Professor 
Department of Physics 
The College of Wooster 
Wooster, OH 44691 
 
I hear you! I have the same issues. If I remember right, the APS 
centennial meeting in Atlanta had a childcare room. I don't know how 
good it was. The CAP meetings tend to provide a list of babysitters 
in the area who will come to your hotel room, but this is expensive! 
The harder ones are the Gordon conferences where you have to stay for a 
week. Can you think of a spouse taking a week off from work? One of the 
things that grant agencies can do is to let us count the spouse as 
childcare provider. One can claim expenses to a stranger babysitter but 
not the airfare of a spouse! Do post and let us know if you find some 
good information. 
 
Chitra Rangan, Ph.D. 
University of Windsor 
Windsor, Ontario N9B 3P4 
www.uwindsor.ca/rangan 
 
Child care was provided (last time that I know) by APS (March Meeting) 
in Indianapolis (2002). They hired a company to take care for the 
children of the participants. The fee was $6/hour and it was good enough 
for my (then) one year old son. I have also talked to a faculty member 
about it and she was complaining that the fee was too high - maybe 
that is an issue for most of the people, but I thought the price 
was decent. I think APS could put up a sign up sheet before each of 
these meetings so they can estimate if it's necessary for them to hire 
such a company again. 
 
Dr. Jelena Trbovic 
University of Basel, Switzerland 
 
The American Astronomical Society has dealt with this issue by 
contracting with a babysitting service, usually through the conference 
hotel, and announcing on the meeting site that childcare is available. 
As far as I know, this has worked out well, although it can be rather 
expensive. 
 
Ellen Zweibel 
University of Wisconsin 
 
I thought I would pass along--to you and to others on the list--a link 
to an article we (Science's Next Wave) published a while back on 
the subject of conference childcare. It is a little dated, and 
hopefully progress has been made since the article was published. But 
things move slowly. Here's a link: 
 
http://sciencecareers.sciencemag.org/career_development/previous_issues/articles/2240/the_lack_of_conference_childcare_a_barrier_to_entry/  
 
Be Well 
Jim Austin, Ph.D., Editor 
ScienceCareers.org 
http://www.sciencecareers.org 
Email: jaustinaaas.org 
 
It seems like I remember the March meeting offering childcare several 
years ago. I heard they discontinued it because they didn't have 
enough people sign up. I also noticed the babies at this year's March 
meeting, though. It seems like a kid room shouldn't be too tough to swing. 
If APS just provided the space, it seems like that would be cheap 
enough that it doesn't particularly matter if "enough" people are using it.  
 
I've found craigslist.org a useful resource for finding babysitters in 
new cities. Maybe APS could also provide a bulletin board, like the 
roommate bulletin board, where people who want to bring kids could 
coordinate with each other to share a babysitter. 
 
I brought my daughter and dad with me to Florida for a conference last 
summer, and they went to Disneyworld while I conferenced. But she's 
old enough that she could go the whole day without seeing me, and they 
didn't visit the conference. For this year's March meeting my dad 
watched her again, but he decided it would be easier in her natural 
habitat, and came to our house for the week.  
 
Emily Townsend 
emilyteml.cc 
 
While I haven't yet had the chance to take advantage of childcare 
myself, I am about to need it. I will be attending an American Geophysical 
Union (AGU) conference this May and will be taking my husband as my 
caregiver. However, this will not always be possible. I know that the 
fall AGU meetings generally have childcare. This is a meeting attended 
by about 14,000 scientists with fields that tend to have more women 
than physics. Here's the info from last fall's meeting: 
 
Child Care, Monday through Friday, KiddieCorp provides a professional 
children's program at the meeting. Fees are $7 per hour, per child 
for children ages 6 months through 12 years, and $9 per hour, per 
child for children under 6 months. Children must be registered for a 
minimum of two consecutive hours per child per day. Advance reservations 
must be received by 7 November. Children will enjoy games, story time, 
arts and crafts, and other fun-filled activities. For more information 
please contact KiddieCorp by phone +1-858-455-1718 or by email at 
fallkidskiddiecorp.com. Or register online at 
 
https://www.kiddiecorp.com/fallkids.htm 
 
It would be useful for this type of service to be available at all 
conferences. Unfortunately, besides AGU, I usually attend conferences 
with even smaller numbers overall (such as APS-Division of Plasma 
Physics) which could make such a service unfeasible. I recently read 
an article in the Chronicle of Higher Ed (requires subscription) about 
this very thing:  
 
http://chronicle.com/weekly/v53/i27/27c00201.htm 
 
That group requested funding from a foundation to subsidize the 
childcare. I'm not sure whether that would work in physics, but they 
do also suggest asking publishers in the field for donations since they 
would like to see more people at the meetings. 
 
Amy M. Keesee, Ph.D., Research Associate West Virginia University Amy.Keeseemail.wvu.edu ams_510_at_yahoo.com  
 
There are indeed parents who would appreciate childcare at meetings. 
I have seen at least one mother spending money on a private babysitter, 
and parents taking turns missing sessions. I hope CSWP and APS can 
explore the options to provide childcare, either free or at a 
"reasonable price", at least for those who register their desire for 
it ahead of time. For some meetings there may be no takers, but the 
provision should continue to be offered. 
 
Brenda Winnewisser 
The Ohio State University 
 
Recently I started attending the yearly biophysical society meeting. 
There are many more kids coming along to that meeting than to the 
APS meeting. They also have a room available for nursing etc. Their 
website  
 
(http://www.biophysics.org/meetings/2007/general.htm#child)  
 
Child Care/Family Room: The Biophysical Society sponsors excellent 
child care, provided again this year by KiddieCorp. Pre-registration 
is required for child care.  
 
https://www.kiddiecorp.com/bpskids.htm  
 
Click here for a registration form. As always, a family room will 
be available in the Baltimore Convention Center. 
 
My youngest is 8 and I have never taken any of my kids along to large 
conventions. I noticed an increase in kids this year in Denver though 
and believe I even made a remark about it to a friend. Hope this helps, 
success,  
 
Arlette Baljon  
abaljonmail.sdsu.edu  
 
The AGU meetings have child care. It works well! (but I haven't used it for 
a while) See for instance,  
 
http://www.agu.org/meetings/fm06/?content=services 
 
Anne-Marie 
aschmoltnsf.gov 
 
Currently I am postdoc and have a (nursing) toddler. This year (and 
last year) did not go to any professional conference: I cannot afford 
either to bring my husband to take care of my little one nor a baby 
sitter at the conference. Result: I have not networked for two years 
and now that I am in the job market I have not been as successful as I 
think I would. One of the reasons is certainly my low visibility due to 
my lack of networking. I firmly believe there should be free daycare 
service at professional conferences. Otherwise, how and how long would 
it take us (mom-scientists) to land a job and build up a career? 
 
Patricia 
 
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5. Postdoctoral Research Associate at CTIO 
From: Pat Knezek [pknezeknoao.edu] 
 
We invite applicants for a postdoctoral position in extragalactic 
astronomy at the National Optical Astronomy Observatory (NOAO) South in 
La Serena, Chile, to work with Dr. Susan Ridgway and Dr. Chris Miller. 
The successful candidate will participate in projects to use 
multiwavelength data to study active galaxies and clusters at high 
redshifts, and also will have time to carry out personal research. 
 
The position is offered for an initial appointment of 1 year, starting 
as soon as possible, renewable for another year. Applicants should send 
electronically (preferred) to hrnoaonoao.edu a curriculum vitae, bibliography, 
short summary of research interests, and names of three references.  
 
Please reference Job #821-Postdoctoral Research Associate. Questions 
about the position are encouraged and can be addressed to Drs. Ridgway 
or Miller, at seridgwayctio.noao.edu or cmiller_at_ctio.noao.edu  
 
The position is based at the AURA campus in La Serena, Chile, which 
includes the offices of CTIO, SOAR and Gemini-South, with the offices 
of Las Campanas Observatory next door. The working language is English. 
Staff members have excellent benefits and living conditions, an overseas 
allowance, support for Spanish lessons, an educational stipend for 
dependent children, international health care benefits, and annual 
travel to the point of hire. Bilingual education for children is available 
at the International School of La Serena, which was co-founded by and 
still supported by AURA. The city of La Serena is a major seaside 
tourist destination in South America, with a climate very similar 
to San Diego, California. 
 
Applications received prior to May 01, 2007 are assured full consideration, 
however, the position is open until filled. 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 
 
NOAO and NSO are affirmative action and equal employment opportunity 
employers. Preference granted to qualified Native Americans living on 
or near the Tohono O'Odham reservation. 
 
NOAO and NSO foster a diverse research environment. Women and 
candidates from under represented minorities are particularly encouraged 
to apply. 
 
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