AAS Committee on the Status of Women  
 
Issue of February 6, 2009 
 
eds. Joan Schmelz, Caroline Simpson & Michele Montgomery 
 
This week's issues: 
 
1. Thanks to Henrietta Leavitt 
 
2. The Doctor is In 
 
3. The New Girls' Network 
 
4. How to Submit, Subscribe, or Unsubscribe to AASWOMEN 
 
5. Access to Past Issues of AASWOMEN 
 
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1. Thanks to Henrietta Leavitt 
From: Nancy Evans [evanshead.cfa.harvard.edu] 
 
To celebrate the centennial of Henrietta Leavitt's first discussion of the  
Cepheid Period-Luminosity law, an afternoon Symposium "Thanks to Henrietta  
Leavitt" was held Nov. 6, 2008, at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for 
Astrophysics. Speakers included: George Johnson (New York Times, "The 
Search for  Henrietta Leavitt" based on his recent biography), Wendy 
Freedman ("The Leavitt Period-Luminosity Relation: Past, Current, Future"), 
Fritz Benedict ("Galactic Cepheid Astrometry with the Hubble Space Telescope 
in Aid of the Cosmic Distance Scale"), Nancy Remage Evans ("Multiplicity 
and Masses of Cepheids: Fundamental Parameters"), Gail Schaefer ("Direct 
Detection of the Close Companion of Polaris with the Hubble Space Telescope"), 
Massimo Marengo ("Galactic Cepheids as Seen with Spitzer"), and (in 
absentia) Annie Baglin ("Pulsation in the Era of Corot"). Alison Doane 
provided a display of plates and notebooks actually used by Henrietta 
Leavitt. 
 
Power point versions of the talks, as well as pictures from the event can 
be found at: 
 
 
http://www.cfa.harvard.edu/events/2008/leavitt/ 
 
As a result of the meeting, a letter was sent to the AAS Council to request 
them to encourage the use of the "Leavitt Law" for the Cepheid 
Period-Luminosity Relation because of the continuing significance of the this 
discovery and the AAS has agreed. 
 
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2. The Doctor is In 
From: HannahWomen in Astronomy Blog, Feb 3, 2009 
 
This article from the LA Times has been making the rounds in the feminist 
and women-in-science blogosphere: 
 
http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/washingtondc/la-na-dr-jill-biden2-2009feb02,0,548459.story 
 
You can see commentary from Pharyngula: 
 
http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2009/02/snubbing_degrees_as_a_new_kind.php 
 
The upshot of the story is that Dr. Jill Biden, wife of Vice President 
Biden, has been going around being addressed with the title "Dr." since she 
has a doctorate in education. The LA Times seems to think this is a big deal 
because she isn't an MD, and she's the first second lady (did you parse 
that correctly?) to continue working while her husband is in office. The 
subtext there is outrage that Dr. Biden would dare make herself more educated 
than her husband and then flaunt it by continuing to work, with disdain for 
intellectuals in general thrown in for good measure. 
 
 
I worked hard for my degree, thank you very much, and like being addressed 
by Doctor, even if it does come across as pompous. It's especially 
important if my male peers are being addresses as doctor: I should get the same 
respect. I can't win, anyway: Miss doesn't fit, Missus bothers me, and Miz 
comes across as bitchy. Why should my marital status matter anyway? 
 
 
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3. The New Girls' Network 
From: Hannah
Women in Astronomy Blog, Feb 2, 2009 
 
It's been quiet on the blog here, and my excuse is that I've been busy with 
travel recently. I'm on an 8-day tour of the Bay Area, giving three 
seminar-length talks and one 20-minute conference talk while I'm here.  
 
I'm following a piece of advice I picked up in grad school: whenever you 
get the opportunity to give a talk somewhere, do it. It will increase your 
exposure, and even if they aren't hiring at the time, it will still help you 
establish connections and share your science with people. So, while my 
original purpose in coming here was for this conference at the end of the week, 
I managed to work my network to score speaking gigs at three different 
institutions in the area. 
 
 
The interesting thing is that most of my network is women. 
 
 
My first talk was arranged mostly through a grad student friend at her 
university. 
 
 
For the second talk, I got in touch with people I knew there and basically 
bugged them until they gave in. In this case, my contacts were mostly men, 
actually. 
 
At the AAS Meeting in January, I ran into a friend of mine and mentioned 
that I would be in the area, and she invited me to come by her institution 
and give a talk there, all of which she handily arranged for me. 
 
My friends largely work in completely different areas than I do, so I'm all 
the more appreciative that they helped arrange my visits. There might be 
something in there about those of us in the minority sticking up for one 
another, but there's more to it than that. There's true friendship and 
camaraderie that I'm drawing on here, and maybe it's simply the way we women tend 
to relate to each other. 
 
Anyway, the moral of the story is to never underestimate the value of 
networking, and that that includes friendships with your peers as well as 
schmoozing with people in high places.
 
 
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4. How to Submit, Subscribe, or Unsubscribe to AASWOMEN 
 
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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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