AAS Committee on the Status of Women 
Issue of October 10, 2008 
eds. Joan Schmelz, Hannah Jang-Condell & Caroline Simpson 
 
This week's issues: 
 
1. Advice for Postdocs Applying for Tenure-Track Positions 
 
2. T-Shirt: A Sign of Progress? 
 
3. Keck Observatory Public Information Officer 
 
4. How to Submit, Subscribe, or Unsubscribe to AASWOMEN 
 
5. Access to Past Issues of AASWOMEN 
 
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1. Advice for Postdocs Applying for Tenure-Track Positions 
 
[Last week, we asked for your help in putting together some advice for 
postdocs applying for their first faculty position. We got several replies. 
Postdocs, we hope this information is helpful. Good Luck! -- Eds.] 
 
From: Alison Coil [acoilucsd.edu] 
 
A great thing to do is ask people at other institutions who have recently 
started their faculty jobs what they asked for and what they got. It's good 
to know what the range is, and there can be a significant difference in 
what is offered from place to place. You'll be at a disadvantage if you don't 
know what is reasonable. You can also ask recent hires at your own 
institution. Everyone who I asked gave me information; no one was offended, 
they all wanted to help. So the first thing to do is gather information on 
what other people are getting! 
 
Things that people routinely ask/negotiate for now: 
 
- Salary - Always ask for 10% more than what they offer. Your starting 
salary often affects your long-term salary, so best to keep it high in the 
beginning if possible. 
- Summer salary - Ask for 4 months of summer salary 
- Lab space - Ask for what you'll need in 5 years, not the first year 
- Office space - Ask to be near the center of action, near faculty with 
similar scientific interests 
- Teaching relief - Always ask for at least one class less than normal the 
first year. Some people ask for an additional one class of relief to be 
taken sometime in the first N years - this is especially useful if one is 
going to be extremely busy one semester setting up a new lab or conducting 
a major new survey or if you have a child! 
- Start-up funds: include requests for: 
        - graduate students; it is common at some places to get support for 
2 students for 2-3 years 
        - a postdoc; it is common now to request one postdoc for 3 years 
        - travel support for yourself and students/postdoc for 3 years 
        - computer; again, ask for what you and your group will need for 3 
years 
        - page charges; again for the group for 3 years 
- Buy-in to a survey - For institutions without significant telescope 
access, observers can now ask their institution to buy into a survey (i.e., 
SDSS-III) or buy nights on a specific telescope for their research. This 
has become quite common. 
- Help with finding a job for a spouse 
- Positions in campus day care for your kids 
 
The general idea with the start-up package is that it will be used to get 
your research going at the new institution. This means supporting all of 
your research needs and costs as well as those of your students and postdocs. 
As grants are hard to get (and getting harder to get) it can easily take 
2-3 years before you get a grant. So the start-up should support you for 2-3  
years. However, if possible, ask that there is no time limit on when you 
use the funds i.e., if you do get a grant you can keep the funds in the 
bank to be used later. 
 
Also remember that guys (and gals) routinely ask for these things, so the 
main thing is to not feel bad that you are asking for this! The worst that 
will happen is they will say no. Women so rarely ask for too much that you 
are not likely to offend anyone, and in general the university wants to 
support you so they will offer what they can. 
 
The other thing to realize is that if you have more than one offer, it is 
to your advantage to negotiate at the top two places you want to go to. So 
you may end up negotiating at more than one place. It's not fun, but it's 
very worth it in the end! 
 
From: Tammy Smecker-Hane [smeckersculptor.ps.uci.edu] 
 
Regarding advice for postdocs applying & negotiating for their first 
faculty positions, you might be interested in Q&As here: 
 
http://www.physsci.uci.edu/news/OLWPS_Q&A.html 
 
From: Lynne Hillenbrand [lahastro.caltech.edu] 
 
There are always several axes of negotiation, generally including salary 
level, summer salary support, research startup funds, office/lab space, 
access to departmental or institutional facilities, which courses will be 
taught, etc. My advice is to divide these into those that are really 
important to you, and those that are not.  Make it clear that you -- for 
example -- are not going to push back on the salary level, but that you 
really want sufficient funds for graduate student support for a year or 
two. Pick the item that is most important to you and make sure you "win" 
at least that one, if not all of them! 
 
From: Andrea Ghez [ghezastro.ucla.edu] 
 
Here is my list of things I would recommend asking for: 
 
- Start-up fund: computers, graduate students, postdoc, travel 
(to meetings/telescope), summer salary (yes!); 
- Teaching Relief (absolutely! helps you to get started as there are so 
many new responsibilities     starting a faculty position); 
- Office Space, Lab Space if you are an experimentalist; 
- Moving Expenses; 
- Housing Subsidy, i.e., cash to help with down payment of home. 
 
If your university has them (at UCLA there are slots held for 
recruitment/retention): 
 
- Day Care slots (worth mentioning even if you don't have kids - I got this 
advice and benefited from it latter); 
- Elementary school slots; 
- University Home loan program (for example - UC has a loan program that 
tends to run below market rates). 
 
From: Mordecai-Mark Mac Low [mordecaiamnh.org] 
 
I just assisted my partner in her negotiations on beginning a tenure-track 
position in another technical field, so let me see if I can recap some of 
the thoughts I shared with her. 
 
Don't take it personally when sudden delays appear in the offer and 
appointment process. Administrators get distracted, have piles of paper on 
their desks, and don't always sign off as quickly as they should. During my 
own appointment, the Provost in charge left on a research expedition for 
two months between initial offer and final agreement, during which 
absolutely nothing happened! 
 
Start paying attention to the internal politics during your interview, and 
identify your allies. They may be able to feed you valuable inside 
information during the negotiation to make sure that you neither leave money 
on the table, nor make an unrealistically large request that is dead on 
arrival. Usually there is a factor of two or so range within which you can 
operate. 
 
Draw up a start-up budget as soon as you get any initial indication that an 
offer might be coming. The components to consider include items similar to 
a grant budget: 
- personnel. Graduate students (ideally sufficient funding to be able to 
offer a thesis position), postdocs (enough for a two year position ideally), 
technicians, data analysts, are all possibilities depending on your 
research program 
- supplies and equipment to last until your first grant 
- summer salary until your first grant (not everyone will give this, but 
you can ask) 
- conference and research travel, both domestic and foreign - publication 
costs 
 
Start up funds can come in many different ways. A cash budget is great of 
course, but maybe a graduate student RA can be allocated in lieu of some of  
the cash, or an internal postdoctoral fellowship. Maybe the department is 
able to cover publication or travel costs out of their budget. Reduced 
teaching load the first semester or year also can be a major contribution to 
a startup package. 
 
One thing to watch out for with cash is whether it all has to be spent in 
the first year. This needs to be explicitly discussed (nothing worse than 
watching unspent money evaporate at the end of the year!) 
 
Space is always something to discuss explicitly. Project forward to your 
needs when you've assembled a research team, and if you're doing any sort of 
lab work or instrumentation what your peak needs will be, and make those 
needs clear up front. 
 
Inquire explicitly about whether reduced teaching loads can be purchased 
with grant funding. 
 
Compensation is usually negotiable, particularly in the USA. One tactic is 
to look for statistics on comparable institutions, or try to get insight 
from peers who have started similar positions. Also consider the value of 
non-cash benefits, such as housing support (cheap mortgages, faculty housing, 
and such. These can be a subject of intense negotiation in big city schools, 
tuition for children, childcare, and other subsidies. What about parking? 
 
Advanced standing on a tenure clock is often something to suggest if you 
are not coming directly out of a first postdoc position. Conversely, 
opportunities to stop the clock can also be valuable and should be checked 
for (e.g., for a new child). 
 
Detailed justifications can help strengthen your negotiating position -- 
draw up a strategic plan for yourself to use in support of your specific 
requests. 
 
Hope this is helpful! 
 
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2. T-Shirt: A Sign of Progress? 
 
[Last week, we included a personal anecdote about a NASA team ordering 
women's T-shirts. We got a few responses that we wanted to share with our 
readers -- Eds.] 
 
From: Tammy Smecker-Hane [smeckersculptor.ps.uci.edu] 
 
Like Joan Schmelz mentioned in the last AASWomen email, I too have notice a 
positive change in the climate for women reflected by the fact that not 
everyone assumes all T-shirts for academic programs and workshops should be 
ordered in men's sizes. However, I've noticed the change most at UCI in the 
summer programs we run for high school students -- where women are indeed 
almost 50% of students and 50% of the teaching and residence assistants. 
Sadly, progress is exceedingly slow migrating up the career path. Our 
department designed brand new T-shirts this past year, and they only ordered 
men's sizes: L, XL and XXL! Neither of which fit most of the women in the 
department. 
 
From: Luisa Rebull [rebullipac.caltech.edu] 
 
Some of that is just a shift in the way they ("They") make T-shirts these 
days - in general, they are more fitted, so both men and women end up with 
more fitted shirts. The Prague IAU T-shirt was also available in women's and 
men's flavors, and the women's one was very flattering. I found this the 
other day: 
 
https://13298.spreadshirt.com/us/US/Shop/Article/Index/article/ 
 
YellowIbiscom-One-Liners-Womens-Heather-Jersey-T-What-a-scientist-looks-like-Customizable-text-Blue-Melange-2489632 
 
The link is to the women's fit, but there is also a fitted men's and a 
"regular" men's (e.g. the floppy large sizes you're familiar with). The 
disadvantage of this trend, though, is that of all these size permutations, 
at the moment, this nursing mother would only fit into a men's XL (of the 
floppy variety!).  Guess I gotta wait to buy this shirt until 
I wean my son... 
 
From: Mordecai-Mark Mac Low [mordecaiamnh.org] 
 
Re critical mass of women on NASA teams: on one shift last spring, the 
entire command and control staff on one of the Mars rovers was female, 
from the team leader down 
 
http://science.nasa.gov/headlines/y2008/12mar_spiritday.htm 
 
It had to be arranged, but the basis was that there already were women in 
the rotation in every position. 
 
From: Jo Pitesky [jo.piteskyjpl.nasa.gov] 
 
Chuckled reading your story. I'm a plain T-shirt fan myself; after 20-some 
years at JPL, I've accumulated a frightening number. But I had to giggle 
when I went into JPL's store a couple years ago, and came face-to-face with a 
pink spaghetti strap cami with "JPL" in rhinestones.  And it's definitely 
nice to see women's style jackets and sweatshirts. 
 
A lot of the projects here have turned to Land's End as a way to accommodate 
lots of different clothing style choices. Submit a logo, have the Land's 
End people make it into an embroidery option, and you can get your team 
logo on just about anything. 
 
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3. Keck Observatory Public Information Officer 
From: Cindy Chong [cchongkeck.hawaii.edu] 
 
The W. M. Keck Observatory operates the world's two largest o
ptical/infrared telescopes located on the summit of Mauna Kea on the Big 
Island of Hawaii. The Observatory seeks a dynamic, high-energy professional 
to strengthen strategic communications in support of Observatory priorities. 
Under the general supervision of the Director of Advancement, the Public 
Information Officer will be responsible for the Observatory's media coverage, 
web presence, print and electronic publications, and manage outreach 
activities and appropriate communications with key stakeholders to further 
the organization's reputation as a recognized national treasure. 
 
Minimum requirements for this position include: Bachelor's Degree or 
equivalent and possess exceptional interpersonal communication qualities, 
project-management abilities and oral/written skills, and expertise in 
developing and maintaining relevant constituent relationships. Professional 
experience in science/technical writing and editing required, experience 
with astronomy subject matter preferred. 
 
The following skills are required: Excellent written and oral English 
communication skills, ability to work independently and as part of a team, 
strong project and time management skills; ability to set priorities and 
meet deadlines with flexibility. 
 
This is a regular position with a competitive, comprehensive benefits 
package including relocation assistance and private school (K-12) tuition 
support for dependent children. Salary is dependent upon qualifications and 
experience. The position is opened until filled. Employment is conditional 
on successful completion of drug tests and background check. Mail or fax 
resumes, references, and salary history to: Inkinen and Associates, Attn: 
Lorri Kobata, 1003 Bishop Street, Pauahi Tower, Suite 477, Honolulu, HI 
96813; Fax: 808-521-2380 or lkobatainkinen.com. Additional information about WMKO 
and this position may be found on our web site at 
 
www.keckobservatory.org 
 
EEO/M/F/D/V 
 
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5. Access to Past Issues of AASWOMEN 
 
Past issues of AASWOMEN are available at 
 
http://www.aas.org/cswa/AASWOMEN.html 
 
Each annual summary includes an index of topics covered. 
 
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