AAS Committee on the Status of Women 
Issue of August 24, 2007 
eds. Joan Schmelz, Geoffrey Clayton, & Hannah Jang-Condell 

This week's issues: 
1. The 2-Body Problem: New Advice for an Old Problem? 
2. The 2-Body Problem: Individual Experiences 
3. Female Friendly Physics Graduate Programs: Comments 
4. NSF Announces the New ADVANCE Solicitation 
5. Short Report from the 3rd Nordic Women in Physics Meeting 
6. MentorNet Director of Programs 
7. How to Submit, Subscribe, or Unsubscribe to AASWOMEN 
8. Access to Past Issues of AASWOMEN 
1. The 2-Body Problem: New Advice for an Old Problem? 
From: Heidi B. Hammel [hbhammelgmail.com] 
[Last week we asked for your help in putting together some new advice 
for the 2-body problem. Here is our first contribution, but we need 
more. Much more! As the summer winds down and the new academic year 
begins, please keep those cards and letters coming - Eds.] 
My organization, Space Science Institute, solves the two-body problem by 
letting our PIs live anywhere in the country. We are based in Boulder, 
CO, but currently have scientists working across the country. You can 
see a map at 
I joined SSI almost ten years ago precisely because of the 2-body 
My husband got a job several states away, and we had a baby with another 
on the way, so splitting the family was not an option. SSI allowed me to 
continue my research while keeping my family together. 
I work from an office in my home, as do many of our researchers. A few 
have joint positions with local institutions that provide them with 
office space. 
We are a fully soft-money organization, so our scientists have to be 
cutting-edge researchers to maintain a solid funding base. I'd be happy 
to discuss this in more detail, or people can visit our website at 
Also, I presented a poster about the two-body problem in the "Women in 
Astronomy 2" conference in Pasadena in 2003 ("One Solution to the 
Problem: Off-Site Researchers at the Space Science Institute," by Heidi 
B. Hammel and Tyson M. Brawley). Sections of the poster include: 
* What is the two-body problem? 
* Some solutions to the two-body problem 
* What's good about being off-site 
* The downside to being off-site (and solutions) 
I can make it available as a PDF, or perhaps someone has a resource page 
where I can post it. 
2. The 2-Body Problem: Individual Experiences 
[Our request for information on the 2-body problem also generated 
several responses detailing individual experiences - Eds.] 
From: Naomi Ridge [nridgemac.com] 
I am writing in response to your question about the two-body problem. 
From my own experience, and I am located in one of the cities you 
mentioned (Boston), the multi-body problem (I also have an 18-month- old 
son) led me to leave academia altogether. I think there are definitely 
cases where things can be worked out, but it is still a major reason for 
women leaving the academic track. 
Also remember that it doesn't just affect two-astronomer couples - a 
good friend of mine is going through exactly the same issues and his 
wife is a lawyer. What is required is more flexible, longer-term 
fellowships which can be easily transferred between institutions. 
Feel free to contact me if you would like to know more about my 
particular situation and experiences of this. 
From: Anonymous 
My partner and I we were unable to find postdoc positions within 800 
miles of each other, and so my partner left astronomy for industry. I 
asked many post-docs and professors for advice the year before applying; 
the only advice I got was obvious, that we should apply to big-astronomy 
cities. And that we should suck it up and live apart for 3--10 years if 
From: Megan Donahue [donahuepa.msu.edu] 
We (Mark & I) have "solved" the 2 body problem about 4 times. We're both 
astronomers, which makes our 2-body problem a sub-class of the larger 
one of 2 professionals pursuing careers. We wouldn't have been able to 
solve it without a lot of help from our colleagues and employers -- the 
people who hired us and the people who wrote our letters made their 
contributions in ways I can't say. But I know they did. I have little 
idea of what really happened behind the scenes to make our dual careers 
possible. So I don't really believe that because we succeeded, our 
advice is better than anybody else's. I only hold one piece of the 
puzzle, but it's the only part I controlled. That said, here's what I 
believe I know. 
Universities seem to be doing a pretty good job at addressing the 2-body 
problem. Professors tend to come attached to other professors or other 
professionals. These days, it's just part of the recruiting process to 
attempt to solve 2-body problems. Possibly universities have realized 
that it's easier to retain a married couple, because they are less 
likely to jump ship at the next best offer. That probably results in 
lower income (both negotiated up front, and long term), traded off for 
greater job security, for the couple. The university benefits from 
paying less and fewer costly job searches. It's more common for 
universities to have funding sources to sponsor academic positions for 
partners, for professor hires. 
I think that if you are dead set against taking a job if your spouse 
cannot find employment in the same department (this is the 2-astronomy 
body problem in a remote department), you should say so in the cover 
letter. I think that this particular circumstance is rather unusual, but 
it might apply if one of you already has a job offer or a tenured 
position, and you're looking to improve your current long-term 
situation. If you would like assistance in finding employment for your 
spouse in another field, the time to ask is during your interview visit. 
As an interviewer, I would consider that a sign of strong interest in 
the job if you're already thinking about your spouse's job, schools for 
the kids, neighborhoods. This situation is so terribly common that I 
don't think being married is grounds for being rejected for the position 
just because you mention it during the interview. However, use your 
judgment. Asking questions about your marital status, your children, or 
plans for children are absolutely off-limits for an interview unless you 
bring those topics up yourself. In my situation, (astronomy is such a 
small town), it was not a secret when we were both looking. In fact, for 
one of my husband's interviews, I was invited along to discuss potential 
job-sharing arrangements. If your spouse is in another department, you 
might check the university HR website to see if they have a program to 
support 2-body hires. If your spouse would be in another department, the 
existence of such a program is good news. It means there is a channel 
for opening up a line, even in another department, supported by the 
university. If they are interested enough to interview you, they would 
probably be grateful to begin exploring your spouse's options sooner 
rather than later. It's slow, and while they might make the offer before 
they know, at least the process is in the pipeline and they might be 
able to update their offer for a timely acceptance on your part. I'd 
listen to a LOT of advice on this point, since my advice here assumes a 
fairly sane process where by the time you're interviewing, you are 
really high on their list for a lot of reasons. You can be clear that 
your spouse is also exploring other options at this time. After the 
initial offer, it makes a lot of sense to put that concern on the table, 
as part of negotiating the terms of the offer. They might ask "What do 
we need to do to have you accept this offer ... today?" If that's when 
you spring on them, well, I have this astronomer husband, then they 
might feel like they've been blindsided because they might have been 
further along on the process of making something happen if you had 
mentioned that earlier. But realistically, everyone understands that 
your preferred offer (if you're making a choice among multiple offers) 
will probably provide something for both members of the couple. 
You probably will also hear that if you would accept even without 
support for your partner, then it's the better part of discretion to 
wait until you're negotiating terms. I can understand that approach. I 
see the wisdom in it. It's not been the approach I've taken, or 
pragmatically speaking, that I've even had the option to take, given 
that my reference letters tended to discuss both us. (We not only are 
both astronomers, but we write papers together too.) 
Solving the 2-body problem isn't always easy. But, you know, a lot of us 
have that problem these days, so the smart employers are learning how 
to, if anything, solve the 2-body problem to their advantage. I believe 
that a lot of progress has been made in this regard over the last 20-30 
years, simply because it's a lot more common to have 2-career couples in 
any field and the system has realized there's an economical advantage to 
dealing with it. 
3. Female Friendly Physics Graduate Programs: Comments 
[We got several responses to an item from WIPHYS when we asked AASWOMEN 
readers, "Shouldn't a Physics Department advertising on a female 
friendly web site have to do more than simply fill out a form?" -- Eds.] 
From: Margaret Hanson [hansonmmuc.edu] 
Its great to be providing this information, but it by no means indicates 
these departments are 'female friendly'. By not being listed (and we are 
not), we [University of Cincinnati - Eds.] perhaps look unfriendly. 
Meanwhile, we graduate among the highest fraction of women PhDs in 
physics in the country (which tells you little about whether we are 
friendly to our females). I just wish they had not referred to the list 
as 'female friendly'. It is information of interest to graduate students 
who might have or expect to have a family and who would like (or not!) a 
more gender-balanced program. Only the final question provides any 
possible evidence of being 'female friendly' and it is entirely 
subjective. No matter, I feel a bit pressured and plan to add our 
institution to the list soon. 
From: Anonymous I 
I think AASWomen ought to complain to APS. These are NOT necessarily 
Female-Friendly Physics Graduate programs, and it's misleading to label 
them so. All the departments have done is self-report their numbers and 
add some details about their overall department. It would be much more 
accurate to rename this as "Some self-reported statistics about women in 
physics graduate programs". 
From: Anonymous II 
The vague wording of the "family health insurance" question hides the 
serious problem that many of these universities do not offer health 
insurance policies for same-sex spouses of grad students, nor for a 
spouse's children. Thus, "family health insurance" often doesn't extent 
to families like mine. The lack of coverage makes it harder for affected 
students to remain in grad school. 
4. NSF Announces the New ADVANCE Solicitation 
From: WIPHYS August 20, 2007 
ADVANCE: Increasing the Participation and Advancement of Women in 
Academic Science and Engineering Careers* 
Document Number: NSF 07-582 
Institutional Transformation (IT) Deadline: December 6, 2007 
Institutional Transformation Awards support academic institutional 
transformation to promote the increased participation and advancement of 
women scientists and engineers in academe. These awards support 
innovative and comprehensive programs for institution-wide change based. 
Web sites for current IT sites are available at: 
Institutional Transformation Planning Grants (IT-Start) Deadline: 
December 6, 2007 
IT-Start awards support basic data collection and analysis functions 
necessary to understand the status of women faculty in academic science 
and engineering at institutions seeking institutional transformation. 
This category of award is intended to broaden the spectrum of 
institutions participating in ADVANCE activities. IT-Start awards seek 
to include institutions with varying institutional scope, sizes, 
experiences, and perspectives, for example (but not limited to): 
primarily undergraduate institutions, teaching intensive colleges, 
community colleges, minority-serving institutions (e.g. tribal colleges, 
Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Hispanic serving 
institutions) as well as women's colleges. 
Partnerships for Adaptation, Implementation, and Dissemination (PAID) 
Deadline: January 17, 2008 
Partnerships for Adaptation, Implementation, and Dissemination awards 
support analysis, adaptation, dissemination and use of existing 
innovative materials and practices that have been demonstrated to be 
effective in increasing representation and participation of women in 
academic science and engineering careers. This category of award also 
supports proposals for developing national, international, and/or 
discipline-specific leadership in enabling the full participation and 
advancement of women in academic science and engineering careers. 
Although there is no "Leadership" component in this solicitation, 
"Leadership like" proposals are appropriate under the PAID component. 
Social science proposals related to women in academic science and 
engineering careers are appropriate under PAID. 
For questions about the program please contact Jessie DeAro at 
703-292-5350 (jdearonsf.gov) or Laura Kramer at 703-292-8575 
(lkramernsf.gov). For technical questions you can contact Pat Simms 
at 703-292-7869 (psimmsnsf.gov). 
*Please note that this program does not make grants to individual 
faculty for their STEM research and teaching activities (except as noted 
above for social science research related to women in academic science 
and engineering careers). 
5. Short Report from the 3rd Nordic Women in Physics Meeting 
From: Meg Urry [meg.urryyale.edu] 
I just attended the 3rd meeting of NorWIP, the Nordic Women in Physics 
group, in Copenhagen. About 100 of the 300 or so members of NorWIP 
attended, and it was great to meet everyone from the most senior levels 
to the most junior. I found myself contrasting their situation with ours 
in the U.S., which was quite interesting. In terms of numbers, Nordic 
women (Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden) are in bad shape, being only a 
few percent of the total physics population, and I got the impression 
that the climate (with notable exceptions) is something like that in the 
U.S. 20-30 years ago - that is, among most physicists, no sense that 
there is a problem, women are undervalued, and despite fine words, 
little action to make change. However, the women are very advanced in 
their thinking and determination, and there are men, including at the 
most senior levels, who are really on the side of the angels. 
Scandinavian countries also have great family policies, and most women 
scientists in Denmark have kids, even 2, 3, 4 or more kids. (A good 
illustration that great family policies do not automatically a 
female-friendly environment make.) 
We also heard some talks about progress at the European Commission, 
which has great policies for women in words but apparently (so far) poor 
execution. One plan is apparently to make sure that 40% of all proposal 
review panels are women. This struck this listener as a bad idea, since 
(a) it implies women will be biased in favor of women (insulting and 
wrong), (b) data show women are about as negatively biased in their 
evaluation of other women as are men, and they can be especially 
strongly so if they are in denial about problems for women (and thus 
want to prove they are not biased for women), and (c) since there aren't 
40% women in the field, women will be working overtime reviewing 
proposals rather than doing science and writing their own. I hope cooler 
minds will prevail. European men are going to have to step up to solve 
the problem of gender inequity; it's not a problem that women can or 
should solve by themselves. 
6. MentorNet Director of Programs 
From: Jennifer Hoffman [jhoffmanastron.Berkeley.EDU] 
MentorNet (www.MentorNet.net), the E-Mentoring Network for Diversity in 
Engineering and Science, is seeking candidates interested in serving as 
Director of Programs. After four years with MentorNet, Dr. Jennifer 
Chou-Green, MentorNet's current Director of Programs, has decided to 
move on, and we are seeking another experienced, talented, energetic 
senior leader as her replacement. MentorNet is an award-winning, 
nonprofit Internet organization, which has pioneered innovation in four 
ways: 1) the use of electronic communications technologies to support 
email-based, one-on-one mentoring relationships, 2) the development of 
technological systems to operate a large-scale mentoring program 
cost-effectively, 3) recognizing, tapping, and evaluating the value of 
external mentors who are professionals in their fields for students and 
early career professionals in science, engineering, technology, and 
mathematics fields, and 4) the development of a multi-organizational 
partnership to support the infrastructure. 
The Director of Programs is the leader responsible for designing, 
developing, implementing, managing, and refining all of MentorNet's 
programs, with special responsibility for overall program direction, 
coordination, communication, and leadership. This senior staff member 
draws upon his/her knowledge of program management and experience with 
social/cultural issues in the context of engineering and science, 
his/her education at the collegiate and graduate school level, and 
his/her experience with social/cultural issues in the context of 
engineering and science at those institutions. S/he is also responsible 
for increasing the overall effectiveness and efficiency of MentorNet's 
Interested candidates should file applications as soon as possible, 
ideally by September 4, 2007 (applications will, however, be reviewed 
until the position is filled). This is a full-time position, requiring 
residence in the SF Bay Area; salary will be commensurate with 
experience, likely in the range of $70,000 - $90,000 annually with 
health benefits and access to a 403(b) tax-deferred retirement account. 
To apply for this position, please view the complete job description and 
follow the application instructions at 
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8. Access to Past Issues of AASWOMEN 
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Each annual summary includes an index of topics covered 
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