AAS Committee on the Status of Women 
Issue of August 31, 2007 
eds. Joan Schmelz, Geoffrey Clayton, & Hannah Jang-Condell 
 
This week's issues: 
 
1. 2-Body Strategies 
 
2. Top 5 Myths About Girls, Math and Science  
 
3. AIP Fellowship Announcement 
 
4. Chandra Fellowships 
 
5. Postdoctoral Research Assistant, Dept. of Physics, Baylor University 
 
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1. 2-Body Strategies 
From Lee Anne Willson (lwillsoniastate.edu) 
 
It is common for people with a "2-body problem" to be advised to focus on 
finding jobs in a big city, with several institutions. 
 
For two academics seeking university positions, this can be very bad advice.  
Here is why: 
 
Think of each job application as a lottery ticket - you are looking for a 
winning combination where your strengths and experience match what the 
institution is looking for.  Applying in a city with 5 institutions is 
buying 5 lottery tickets - a linear increase in the odds. 
 
However, institutions in that situation routinely expect the other 
institutions in the same city to solve their 2-body problems.  Thus, they 
are less likely to negotiate for a position for the spouse than is an 
institution that is the only of its kind within easy commuting distance. 
 
Institutions located in areas with few nearby institutions - including most 
colleges located in college towns - are very aware that if they are to build 
a strong faculty, and a faculty with appropriate gender balance, then they 
need to evolve effective ways of dealing with the 2-body problem.  They 
also know that this can be a big factor in retaining talented faculty 
members.  Thus, your odds of finding two positions at the same institution 
go up when you look away from the big city setting, and your chances of 
negotiating a good arrangement also improve. 
 
In our Physics/Astronomy department, we have at least 8 academic couples 
represented.  Two of us are tenured with tenured spouses in the mathematics 
department.  One is tenured with a spouse who is tenured in a university 
that is a twice-a-week commute away; not ideal, but they make it work.  
One is tenured with a spouse in a P&S (scientific research, long term but 
not tenure) position in a bioscience.  Four have spouses also in 
physics/astronomy; three of these have been given potentially long-term 
instructorships and are active in the department, and the fourth currently 
holds an early career research grant.  The math department has had several 
couples both holding tenure-track appointments as well as some 
faculty/instructor pairs.  Across campus, there are quite a number of 
couples on the faculty.  No one in our department has negotiated a split 
appointment (half his, half hers), but I know other comparable situations 
where that has been done. 
 
The advantages of locating in a college town are many, and include 
these:  Short commute times (in my case, 5 minutes by car or 15 minutes 
on foot), good schools, and a lively cultural life.  In our town, we also 
have good public bus service and a very safe environment; when our 
children were in school, they were able to take the bus to many of their 
after-school activities, or walk.  It is much easier to balance family 
and work when the two are only separated by minutes, both for everyday 
and for inevitable minor emergencies.  Since we have a number of two-career 
couples besides those mentioned above, there is an ethos of balancing 
family and career that makes the balance easier, too; the men feel more 
comfortable saying "sorry, but I have to pick up my son after school 
today" or "can't come at 1; I have an appointment with the plumber" 
so sharing such chores becomes natural & easy. 
 
So:  Don't restrict your search to cities; apply to all the institutions 
where you believe you could thrive professionally and personally.  
Then, negotiate your way to a satisfactory arrangement. Beyond that, I 
echo Megan Donahue's suggestion about the timing of such negotiation.  
As one who has chaired a number of search committees and served on more, 
by the time you get to the interview stage a good search committee knows 
that the balance is shifting from "sifting" to "recruiting", and wants 
to do what it can to make sure that the top candidate(s) can accept 
the offer.  I have generally said to candidates something like "Is there 
anything I can help you find out about our institution or town that 
would make it easier for you to decide to come?  Some people are 
interested in recreational opportunities, or music, or housing costs 
and availability, etc.  For others, it is schools and/or jobs for a 
spouse.  For some of these it may take more than a couple of weeks 
to investigate and provide a response, so if you wait for an offer, 
it may be too late for me to do much.  Please, let me help, now or 
any time until the position is filled."  Then the candidate may decide 
whether or not to accept my help, and I have not asked any forbidden 
questions.  Of course, they have to trust that the information they 
choose to provide won't prejudice the committee, but if the decision 
will turn on what can be done for a spouse, then I hope that the risk 
is small and the reward is great.  Further, the odds of success 
are infinitely higher than if you never even applied! 
 
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2. Top 5 Myths About Girls, Math and Science  
From Caroline Simpson (simpsoncgalaxy.fiu.edu) 
 
By LiveScience Staff 
(http://www.livescience.com/health/070827_girls_math.html) 
 
The days of sexist science teachers and Barbies chirping that "math 
class is tough!" are over, according to pop culture, but a government  
program aimed at bringing more women and girls into science, 
technology, engineering and math fields suggests otherwise. 
 
Below are five myths about girls and science that still endure, 
according to the National Science Foundation's (NSF) Research on  
Gender in Science and Engineering (GSE) program: 
 
Myth 1: From the time they start school, most girls are less 
interested in science than boys are. 
 
Reality: In elementary school about as many girls as boys have  
positive attitudes toward science. A recent study of fourth graders 
showed that 66 percent of girls and 68 percent of boys reported 
liking science. But something else starts happening in elementary 
school. By second grade, when students (both boys and girls) are  
asked to draw a scientist, most portray a white male in a lab coat. 
Any woman scientist they draw looks severe and not very happy. The 
persistence of the stereotypes start to turn girls off, and by eighth 
grade, boys are twice as interested in STEM (science, technology,  
engineering, math) careers as girls are. The female attrition 
continues throughout high school, college and even the work force. 
Women with STEM higher education degrees are twice as likely to leave 
a scientific or engineering job as men with comparable STEM degrees.  
 
Myth 2: Classroom interventions that work to increase girls' interest 
in STEM run the risk of turning off the boys. 
 
Reality: Actually, educators have found that interventions that work 
to increase girls' interest in STEM also increase such interest among  
the boys in the classroom. When girls are shown images of women 
scientists and given a greater sense of possibility about the person 
they could become, the boys get the message too--"I can do this!" 
 
Myth 3: Science and math teachers are no longer biased toward their 
male students. 
 
Reality: In fact, biases are persistent, and teachers often interact 
more with boys than with girls in science and math. A teacher will  
often help a boy do an experiment by explaining how to do it, while 
when a girl asks for assistance the teacher will often simply do the 
experiment, leaving the girl to watch rather than do. Research shows 
that when teachers are deliberate about taking steps to involve the  
female students, everyone winds up benefiting. This may mean making 
sure everyone in the class is called on over the course of a 
particular lesson, or asking a question and waiting 10 seconds before 
calling on anyone. Good math and science teachers also recognize that  
when instruction is inquiry-based and hands-on, and students engage 
in problem solving as cooperative teams, both boys and girls are 
motivated to pursue STEM activities, education and careers. 
 
Myth 4: When girls just aren't interested in science, parents can't  
do much to motivate them. 
 
Reality: Parents' support (as well as that of teachers) has been 
shown to be crucial to a girl's interest in science, technology, 
engineering and math. Making girls aware of the range of science and  
engineering careers available and their relevance to society works to 
attract more women (as well as men) to STEM careers. Parents and 
teachers are also in a position to tell young people what they need 
to do (in terms of coursework and grades) to put themselves on a path  
to a STEM career. 
 
Myth 5: At the college level, changing the STEM curriculum runs the 
risk of watering down important "sink or swim" coursework. 
 
Reality: The mentality of needing to "weed out" weaker students in  
college majors--especially in the more quantitative disciplines-- 
disproportionately weeds out women. This is not necessarily because 
women are failing. Rather, women often perceive "Bs" as inadequate 
grades and drop out, while men with "Cs" will persist with the class. 
Effective mentoring and "bridge programs" that prepare students for 
challenging coursework can counteract this. Changing the curriculum  
often leads to better recruitment and retention of both women and men 
in STEM classrooms and majors. For example, having students work in 
pairs on programming in entry-level computer science and engineering 
(CSE) courses leads to greater retention of both men and women in CSE  
majors. In addition, given that many students (including men) have 
difficulty with spatial visualization and learning, coursework in 
this area has helped retain both women and men in engineering schools. 
 
One of the most effective interventions to help young women choose 
and sustain a STEM educational path and subsequent STEM career is 
mentoring, according to the NSF. 
 
"There are helpful strategies for teachers and for families to  
attract girls to science and keep them engaged in it," says Jolene 
Kay Jesse, GSE program director. "And, by the way, these strategies 
are helpful in keeping students of both genders engaged." 
 
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3.  AIP Fellowship Announcement 
From Audrey Leath (aleathaip.org) 
 
GOVERNMENT FELLOWSHIPS FOR SCIENTISTS: 
 
Experience a unique year in Washington, DC as a Science Fellow!   
 
The American Institute of Physics offers two Science Fellowship programs 
that are open to qualified members the AIP Member Societies.  AIP State 
Department Fellows serve a year at the DC headquarters of the U.S. 
Department of State (application deadline November 1); AIP Congressional 
Fellows spend a year working in a congressional office or on a committee 
staff (application deadline January 15).  Both programs enable U.S. 
scientists to learn about the federal government while contributing 
S&T expertise to the policymaking process.  AIP Fellowship qualifications 
include U.S. citizenship, membership in one of the 10 AIP Member 
Societies, PhD or equivalent in physics-related field, and a desire to 
use your scientific knowledge to serve and inform U.S. domestic or foreign 
policy.  Please see www.aip.org/gov/fellowships.html for further 
information on the programs, qualifications, deadlines, and how to 
apply.  Several AIP Member Societies (APS, AGU and OSA) also offer 
Congressional Fellowships for their members.  Please see 
www.aip.org/gov/fellowships.html for links to more information on 
these programs. 
 
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4. Chandra Fellowships 
From Nancy Evans (evanshead.cfa.harvard.edu) 
 
Chandra Postdoctoral Fellowships 
Chandra X-Ray Center 
E-mail: fellowshead.cfa.harvard.edu 
WWW: http://cxc.harvard.edu/fellows/ 
 
Attention: Chandra Fellowship Program Office 
 
The Chandra X-ray Center (CXC) is pleased to announce the annual 
competition for the Chandra Postdoctoral Fellowship Program, in cooperation 
with host institutions throughout the United States. The primary objective 
of the Program is to provide opportunities for postdoctoral research on 
problems that are broadly related to the scientific mission of the Chandra  
X-ray Observatory and compatible with the interests of the Host 
Institutions. This program is open to applicants of any nationality who earn  
doctoral degrees between January 1, 2005 and September 1, 2008 in astronomy, 
physics, or related disciplines. The Fellowships are tenable at any U.S. 
institution where Chandra-related research can be carried out. 
 
The Fellowship is initially for two years, with the expectation of a 
third year, contingent upon performance and available funding. Subject 
to the availability of NASA funding up to 5 Chandra Fellows will be 
appointed this year, through grants to United States institutions.  
 
The Call for Proposals for the Fellowship Program, which includes 
detailed Program policies and application instructions  
is available on the World Wide Web at http://cxc.harvard.edu/fellows/ 
An application includes a cover form, a research proposal, letters 
of reference, a curriculum vitae, and other relevant materials as 
detailed in the instructions.  Full instructions for submitting 
applications through the web are contained in the Call for 
Proposals.                               
 
The application deadline is 31 October, 2007  
(5:00 pm EST = 6:00 pm EDT = 22:00 UT). 
The Chandra Fellow appointments are expected to begin on or  
about 1 September 2008. Women and members of minority groups  
are strongly encouraged to apply. 
 
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5. Postdoctoral Research Assistant, Dept. of Physics, Baylor University 
From WIPHYS 
 
Applications are invited for a research postdoctoral position available 
in the area of Complex Plasmas at the Center for Astrophysics, Space 
Physics, and Engineering Research in the Physics Department at Baylor 
University starting in January, 2008.  Candidates with research 
experience in the areas of computational and/or experimental studies of 
the dynamics and charging of dust grains within either astrophysical or 
laboratory plasmas are strongly encouraged to apply.  Applicants must 
hold the Ph.D. in physics or a closely related field and have excellent 
programming skills, extensive experience in computation and algorithm 
development, image and data acquisition and analysis, or experience in 
experimental laser diagnostics (LIF, line ratio imaging), high vacuum, 
rf, and complex plasma systems. Successful candidates will be able to 
work independently and expected to become an active member of the 
complex plasma group, leading and organizing groups of graduate and 
undergraduate students.  Applications will be reviewed beginning October 
1, 2007 and will be accepted until the position is filled.  To ensure 
full consideration, your application must be completed by November 
15, 2007. Interested applicants should send their curriculum vitae 
(including relevant publications), a summary of their research 
experience and five significant/relevant publications, and arrange for 
reference letters to be sent to Dr. Lorin Swint Matthews, One Bear Place 
97316, Waco, Texas, 76798-7316. For further details about current 
research activities, refer to www.baylor.edu/CASPER  
(http://www.baylor.edu/CASPER) .   
 
Baylor is a Baptist university affiliated with the Baptist General 
Convention of Texas.  As an Affirmative Action/Equal Employment 
Opportunity Employer, Baylor encourages minorities, women, veterans, 
and persons with disabilities to apply.  
 
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