AAS Committee on the Status of Women 
Issue of April 3, 2009 
eds. Joan Schmelz, Caroline Simpson & Michele Montgomery 
 
This week's issues: 
 
1. National Women's History Month website link - Comment 
 
2. Advice for 'Being Ignored' 
 
3. Response to 'Being Ignored' post - Advice for Committees 
 
4. Sheril Kirshenbaum's blog about sexism in science 
 
5. Rising to the Challenge 
 
5. APS Meeting: Childcare grants corrected link 
 
*** FOLLOWING JOB POSTING TAKEN FROM WIPHYS *** 
 
6. Job Openings at the IAEA 
 
7.  How to Submit, Subscribe, or Unsubscribe to AASWOMEN 
 
8.  Access to Past Issues of AASWOMEN 
 
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1. Comment on National Women's History Month website link 
From: Ivan King [kingastro.washington.edu] 
 
[This is in response to last week's post about National Women's 
History Month, which contained a link to a website with information 
about the contributions of women to astronomy and space science 
exploration -- Eds.] 
 
http://space.about.com/od/biographies/a/womenshistory.htm. 
 
The link above is to a sadly unbalanced page.  Aside from the trivial 
error of misspelling Herschel, this page has a completely unjustified 
tilt toward the manned (and womanned) space program, at the cost of 
pushing science to the background.  What about Antonia Maury, 
Henrietta Leavitt, Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin -- all of whom made 
reallly important contributions -- and in our own era, Margaret 
Burbidge, Vera Rubin, etc.? 
 
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2. Advice for 'Being Ignored' 
From: Joan Schmelz [jschmelzmemphis.edu] 
 
[In an earlier newsletter, we asked for advice for the following 
situation. Thanks to everyone who contributed to the following list, 
compiled by Joan Schmelz. This list is also posted on the CSWA website 
along with other topics at http://www.aas.org/cswa/advice.html, and on 
the Women in Astronomy blog (http://womeninastronomy.blogspot.com/ ) -- Eds.] 
 
Have you ever been in this situation: you're sitting in a meeting and 
make what you think is a great suggestion; you're ignored. Ten minutes 
later, someone else makes a similar suggestion and everyone thinks 
it's just the greatest idea. Are you invisible? Did you imagine it? 
Were you really speaking out loud? 
 
How can women deal with being ignored and/or having their ideas 
dismissed?   Of course, this can happen to men too. 
 
-Make sure you get an adequate seat at the 'table' (so that you are 
 not hiding in a corner); 
 
-Choose your timing: wait for the 'right opportunity' to jump into the 
 conversation (not always easy); 
 
-Speak slowly and clearly; offer more than a quick quip; 
 
-Make sure everyone can hear you; this may be especially challenging 
 if you are naturally soft spoken or if English is not your first 
 language. 
 
-Don't downplay your remarks: do NOT say, "I guess ..." or "This 
 may not be important, but ..." or "This may be a stupid question, 
 but ..." or end with " ...don't you think?" 
 
-Don't be afraid to say something like, "I am glad that xxx agrees 
 with my previous suggestion ..." if another person seconds your 
 opinion. 
 
-If you notice this happening to someone else, try to find a way to 
 attribute the idea to the original speaker: "xxx said that 10 minutes 
 ago!" may not be as effective as something like, "As xxx suggested 
 ..." 
 
-If possible, enlist the support of your peers. Example: a group of 
 grad students meeting with their research advisor. Student xxx makes 
 a suggestion and is ignored. xxx explains what happened off-line and 
 asks his/her peers to look out for future examples. He/she suggests 
 that they all try to back each other up at future group meetings. 
 
-The situation is tougher when you do not have supportive colleagues; 
 you might be the only female director, department chair, manager, 
 etc. at the table. Most of the advice above applies, but it might be 
 even more challenging to be heard. If you know the agenda ahead of 
 time and have one important point to make, you may want to rehearse 
 it out loud; you might even over prepare so you can answer questions 
 in the same well-rehearsed way. There is, unfortunately, still some 
 truth to the old adage that women have to work twice as hard to be 
 considered half as good. This is especially true when you are pushing 
 up against the glass ceiling. 
 
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3. Response to 'Being Ignored' - Advice for committees 
From: Sue Simkin [simkinpa.msu.edu] 
 
Many years ago (back when even women - with astro PhDs - who were 8 
months pregent were invisible!), I attended a meeting of 11 prominent 
astronomers who were in the early planning stages for a new telescope 
facility. (All identifying features have been deliberately 
suppressed!) I had ideas but was not even in a position to express 
them. However, I was able to carefully watch and listen to what went 
on. EVERY SINGLE ONE of the (all male) participants spent 10 minutes 
or more carefully explaining the same idea! (An idea I felt was not 
only obvious but missed the point of the meeting). They then spent the 
rest of the day carefully explaining why THEIR idea was right and 
every one else's (practicly identical) idea was mistaken. 
 
I have always used this as an example of why most committee meetings 
make so little progress. Nowadays I find some rather aggressive women 
also play the same game with the men with the same results. It  really 
does not advance any one's "visibility" because everyone does it and 
everyone else ignores it. 
 
I believe what is needed is a lot more introspection on the part of 
all participants  at meetings to sort out the "common" ideas from the 
truly useful ones and a procedural way to identify the ones everyone 
believes and put them aside in  favor of ones that are new and 
useful. This requires a real cultural change. (Some people believe 
that a "strong man - or woman" can do this as a leader but I believe 
the only thing this does is replace the "strong man's" platitudes for 
those of the group.)  If we can ever develop a society where this 
ritulastic "one man upmanship" is eliminated,  it will be both a lot 
more interesting and a lot more productive! But it took many decades 
(and the invention of  good counterceptives and cultural permission 
for their use!) before we (as women) arrived at where we are now. What 
will it take to revise society's ritulistic incorporation of (male) 
reproductive  imperatives  to free men from this impediment to 
creative development?? (I am equating this type of male behavior to 
that of stock traders and referring to the studies published in the 
following: 
   Coates JM, Herbert J (2008), "Endogenous steroids and financial 
   risk taking on a London trading floor." Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 
   105(16):6167-72 
and the popular article based on this: 
"Trading on Testosterone" , DAN MITCHELL, NYT,  April 19, 2008) 
 
My point here is that most men ignore other men (as well as women) and 
also lack insight into their own motives. Women who try to play theis 
"game" are no more helpful in advancing science than are men. Not an 
encouraging point if what you are trying to do is advance your career 
- sorry. 
 
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4. Sheril Kirshenbaum's blog about sexism in science 
From: Liz Bryson [brysoncfht.hawaii.edu] 
 
From Discover Magazine... 
Contains many links within that continue the discussion. 
 
http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/intersection/2009/03/25/singled-out/ 
 
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5. Rising to the Challenge 
From: Women in Astronomy blog [womeninastronomy.blogspot.com] 
 
Join the discussion and share your story about the challenges you have 
faced in your scientific career at the Women in Astronomy blog at 
womeninastronomy.blogspot.com. It's in response to the following: 
 
The theme for April's Scientiae Carnival is Rising to the Challenge: 
 
     Tell us about that most firey fire through which you have had to 
     walk in your scientific career. How did you overcome the 
     challenge? Did you have help along the way, or was it a solo 
     effort? And what did you learn? Why are you a better scientist 
     given the difficulties that you have encountered? 
 
Hannah Jang-Condell gets us started with her story: 
 
I almost didn't blog this story, because it's intensely personal. But 
then I thought, what's the point of separating my personal experiences 
from my scientific ones? After all, trying to pretend that astronomers 
don't have personal lives is a complete fallacy. Sometimes our 
personal lives spill over into our scientific lives, and that's just 
part of being a whole human being. [...] 
 
For the rest, visit the blog! 
 
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6. APS Meeting - Childcare grants corrected link 
From: WIPHYS, March 31, 2009 
 
[The link from the WIPHYS newsletter including in last week's 
AASWomen newsletter about the childcare grants was 
incorrect. The correct link is below -- Eds.] 
 
There are funds remaining for childcare grants of up to $400 to APS 
April meeting (May 2-5) attendees who are bringing small children or who in= 
cur 
extra expenses in leaving them at home (i.e., extra daycare or 
babysitting services). A grant from the Elsevier Foundation augments existi= 
ng 
funds from the APS. The deadline has been extended to April 
20. Details are at: 
http://www.aps.org/meetings/april/services/childcare.cfm 
 
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7. Job Openings at the IAEA 
From: WIPHYS, April 2 
 
The latest job vacancies at the IAEA can be found at 
http://recruitment.iaea.org/phf/images/email/top_head.jpg . Should you 
know of potential candidates, please do not hesitate to share these 
vacancies with them. We particularly encourage women to apply. The 
full listing of open vacancies, as well as procedures for applying are 
available at http://www.iaea.org/About/Jobs. 
 
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8.  How to Submit, Subscribe, or Unsubscribe to AASWOMEN 
 
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9.  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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