AAS Committee on the Status of Women 
 
Issue of July 10, 2009 	
 
eds. Joan Schmelz, Caroline Simpson & Michele Montgomery 
 
This week's issues: 
 
1. Engineering Pamphlet for Girls 
 
2. Professional Skills Development Workshop 
 
3. Field Theory 
 
4. Most Inspirational Woman Astronomers? 
 
5. How to Submit, Subscribe, or Unsubscribe to AASWOMEN 
 
6. Access to Past Issues of AASWOMEN 
 
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1. Engineering Pamphlet for Girls 
From: Joan Schmelz [jschmelzmemphis.edu] 
 
A colleague of mine sent me this link to an engineering pamphlet for girls: 
 
http://engineeryourlife.org/cms/8750.aspx?subpage=3D10324 
 
While exploring the web site, I found this: 
 
A coalition of more than 55 engineering organizations set out to discover 
why so few academically prepared high school girls were entering engineering 
programs, and what could be done to increase their numbers. Two findings 
stood out: 
 
(1) Girls (as well as their parents, teachers, and counselors) believe that 
engineers must be exceptional at both math and science and that 
engineering is difficult and challenging. 
 
 
(2) It is the engineering community that is contributing to their limited 
understanding of the profession. 
 
Rather than conveying what it's like to be an engineer, and sharing what 
we love about the field with young people, we tend to discuss the process 
of becoming an engineer, concentrating on the necessary qualifications and 
emphasizing all of the potential hurdles along the way. What's emphasized 
to girls (and boys) is how challenging the process is, not the reasons one 
would want to become an engineer in the first place. In a well-meaning 
effort to arm potential engineers with a healthy dose of realism, we often 
forget to also convey what is attractive and meaningful about the profession. 
 
Changing just a few words would make this directly relevant to astronomy. 
For all of us teaching undergraduates, mentoring an REU student, doing 
outreach in local schools, etc. remember this advice from our engineering 
sisters and brothers: share what you love about being an astronomer!  
 
If you've lost that love in the hustle and bustle of everyday life - 
proposal deadlines, grading exams, applying for your next job, etc. - take 
some time to rediscover it.  It will not only be good for you personally
but also for the next generation of astronomers. 
 
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2. Professional Skills Development Workshop 
From: Hannah at the Women in Astronomy Blog 
 
Mark your calendars: here's a heads up for those of you planning to attend 
the Women in Astronomy Meeting in College Park, MD on October 21-23. There 
will be a professional skills development workshop held the day before the 
meeting, on October 20, on the topic of Negotiation. The workshop is 
intended primarily at postdocs, but graduate students and young faculty may be 
accommodated depending on space.  
 
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3. Field Theory 
From: Hannah at the Women in Astronomy Blog 
 
This week, I had the pleasure of playing in the Mud Cup, the semi-annual 
soccer game played between the two departments at my former place of 
employment. One of the rules we have adopted is that each team must field a 
minimum of two women at any time. This form of affirmative action is necessary 
because while we can claim equality in terms of intellectual ability, you 
can't get around the fact that men are generally faster and stronger. It's 
meant to be a friendly game of soccer rather than a high-stakes competition, 
and we women would like to get the chance to play, hence the rule.  
 
At the post-game party, I got to talking with a friend who coaches his sons' 
soccer teams. One year, his team practiced at the same time and place as 
a girls' team. The coaches got the teams together to play scrimmages 
against each other. My friend noted that the boys would either get 
super-aggressive against the girls, or back off completely. "These guys 
here do the same thing," I replied, indicating the soccer players 
around us.  
 
It seems to me that this sort of attitude carries over from the soccer 
field into science, too. Some male scientists feel threatened by women who 
compete with them, and aggressively attack the women's ideas. Some take a 
condescending attitude toward women scientists, along the lines of, "oh how cute, 
she's trying to act like a scientist," and they dismiss the women's ideas 
altogether. Fortunately, though, there are also those who treat us with 
respect as colleagues, or even competitors, on an equal footing. 
 
 
To conclude, I'll mention that while my team was vastly outnumbered by our 
opponents, meaning that we had far fewer players to substitute in. We ended 
up having to substitute women in for men, and by the end we had five women 
on the field to their three. Still, we came out victorious. It only goes 
to show that women's contributions can be invaluable, whether on the soccer 
field, or in the field of science.  
 
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4. Most Inspirational Women Astronomers? 
From: Joan Schmelz [jschmelzmemphis.edu] 
 
[Last week's item from the NewScientist survey on "Most Inspirational 
Woman Scientist Revealed" triggered several comments. Perhaps we should 
come up with a list of inspirational women astronomers. Who would you put 
in the top ten? - Eds.] 
 
Jocelyn Bell Burnell was #4 on the NewScientist list. 
 
One AASWOMEN reader wanted to know, "Where is Cecilia Payne, perhaps the 
greatest astronomer and one of the greatest scientists of the 20th century?" 
 
What about Henrietta Leavitt, Maria Mitchell, and Annie Cannon? All three 
inspired me. 
 
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5. How to Submit, Subscribe, or Unsubscribe to AASWOMEN 
 
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to that address will be posted unless you tell us otherwise (including your email address). 
 
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http://lists.aas.org/cgi-bin/mailman/listinfo/aaswlist 
 
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If you experience any problems, please email itdeptaas.org 
 
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6. 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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