AAS Committee on the Status of Women  
Issue of July 31, 2009 	 
eds. Joan Schmelz, Caroline Simpson & Michele Montgomery 
This week's issues: 
1. Postdocs - Named vs. Unnamed  
2. Mentoring Sessions at Jan AAS Meeting 
3. Longitudinal Study Session at Jan AAS Meeting 
4. Most Inspirational Woman Astronomers? 
5. Inventing Equal Opportunity 
6. Software Engineer III - Green Bank, WV 
7. How to Submit, Subscribe, or Unsubscribe to AASWOMEN 
8. Access to Past Issues of AASWOMEN 
1. Postdocs - Named vs. Unnamed  
From: Joan Schmelz [jschmelzmemphis.edu] 
I have been pondering the gender-related data from the upcoming Astro 
2010 demographics report, especially the named postdocs. I've been given 
special permission to discuss this issue before the actual report comes 
out. This shows that ~30% of these positions have gone to women for over 
10 years. 
Do women have a similar success rate for 'unnamed' postdocs? 
We have done some quick analysis with the available 2007 data for the 
postdocs here at CfA, and find pretty good numbers. We were wondering 
how to expand this comparison. 
Would anyone be interested in looking at the postdoc data for their home 
institution? If so, we might be able to put together something for the 
Women in Astronomy III conference. 
As mentioned in last week’s issue of AASWOMEN, Women in Astronomy III 
will take place Oct 21-23, 2009 in College Park, MD. 
Early Registration is now open and abstracts are due by Aug 31, 2009. For 
details, please see: 
2. Mentoring Sessions at Jan AAS Meeting 
From: Dara Norman [dnormannoao.edu] 
The two special sessions on "Mentoring Astronomers: Students to Faculty" 
are scheduled for 90 minutes on the morning and afternoon of Wednesday, 
6 January 2010. Note that this is DURING the regular AAS meeting, i.e 
this is not a pre-meeting workshop. 
Whether formal or informal, mentoring relationships are an important part 
of every scientist's career through graduate school, job searches, and the 
tenure process. Yet despite its obvious importance, mentor development 
is often left to chance rather than given the attention and dedication 
required to be a truly effective mentor. Professional resources exist 
that can be very useful for mentor development. 
The CSMA and CSWA are sponsoring two special sessions devoted to an 
exchange of information and best practices on mentoring as part of 
the January 2010 AAS meeting. The primary goals of these sessions are 
to 1) provide information and best practices about mentoring and its 
effectiveness in encouraging successful scientists, and 2) to provide 
a mini-workshop to discuss and practice implementing these mentoring 
techniques. Each session provides unique and practical information for 
those who attend only one, but are complementary and most effective as 
a unit. We encourage all astronomical researchers and faculty to attend, 
as well as graduate students, who already mentor more junior colleagues 
and will continue to do so throughout their careers. 
The first session is devoted to lecture style presentations of 
mentoring best practices and information. Speakers have been 
selected for their current work with and knowledge of mentoring 
activities/programs. Collectively their mentoring activities include 
work with undergraduate and graduate students as well as postdocs and 
junior faculty. Confirmed speakers include: Dr. Hakeem Oluseyi (FIT), 
Dr. Kathleen Flint (NPA), and Dr. Dana Lehr (NSF). 
The second session provides a participatory workshop on mentoring. The 
speakers are involved in mentoring seminar activities/programs 
affiliated with the Wisconsin Program for Scientific Teaching, the 
Delta Program in Research, Teaching, and Learning, and the Wisconsin 
Center for Education Research. Their mentoring training program has 
been designed to be effective for STEM disciplines and has been field 
tested with astronomers in particular. The seminar has been adapted for 
use with mentees who range in experience from grad students to postdocs, 
to faculty. The primary content will be the presentation and discussion 
of a few case studies. Topics that will be discussed in the context of 
mentoring are expectations, communication, independence, diversity, 
understanding and ethics. There will be discussions of how mentors 
develop their skills and how to evaluate the success of mentoring. 
Further details will be posted on the CSMA website: 
3. Longitudinal Study Session at Jan AAS Meeting 
From: Rachel Ivie [rivieaip.org] 
A second special session sponsored by CSWA entitled, “Longitudinal 
Study of Astronomy Graduate Students” has been accepted for the American 
Astronomical Society in Washington, DC. The session is scheduled for 90 
minutes on the afternoon of Monday, 4 January 2010. 
The purpose of this session is to make attendees aware of the status 
of the longitudinal study of astronomy graduate students. AIP recently 
completed data collection for the first phase of this study, which has 
been jointly funded by AAS and AIP. The project, which began in 2007, 
was the result of recommendations made at the 2003 Women in Astronomy 
Conference. Eventually, the study will track astronomy graduate students 
over the course of several years. The study has several purposes: to 
collect data on people who obtain graduate degrees in astronomy, to 
compare attrition rates for men and women, to collect data on people 
who leave the field of astronomy, and to collect data on astronomers 
who work outside the traditional employment sectors of academe and the 
During the first wave of data collection, we received more than 1100 
responses that are useable for the analyses. Approximately 700 men 
and more than 400 women responded, representing 148 different graduate 
programs. Our preliminary analyses show that women are: less likely to 
agree that the environment in the department is welcoming, more likely to 
believe they lack ability, and are less confident in their careers. These 
results also apply to men who have been in the program more than three 
years. These and other findings will be discussed at the session, which 
will include time for audience discussion. 
4. Most Inspirational Women Astronomers? 
From: 	Ivan King [kingastro.washington.edu] 
[We continue to get responses to our request for the most inspirational 
women astronomers. Ivan was concerned that this might not be appropriate 
for AASWOMEN since, as he said, “I am a man, and from another generation 
. . .” We, however, find his contribution completely appropriate and 
are happy to include it here – Eds.] 
I think that Margaret Burbidge deserves a place high on the list of 
role models. 
First, it was Margaret who set in motion the entire movement that led to 
the founding of CSWA, when, around 1970, she declined to accept the Cannon 
Prize because it had been set aside expressly for women. (I don't remember 
just how she said this, but she could probably fill that in herself.) 
Then, during her 1976-78 term as AAS President, she persuaded the Council 
to establish a ban on AAS meetings in states that had not ratified the 
Equal Rights Amendment to the U.S. Constitution (which unfortunately 
failed for lack of fewer than the needed 3/4 majority of states). This 
step had been taken by many professional societies, but led to violent 
opposition by a small group of right-wing members of the AAS, who then 
tried to get control of the Nominating Committee, but were defeated 
at a rather heated Annual Business Meeting in 1979. Meanwhile, during 
Margaret's Presidential term, the Council had set up the CSWA, very 
much in its present form (while also setting up a separate committee 
on minorities, in order to direct separate attention to each of these 
important questions). 
(I remember much of this vividly, since I was the Council member who 
actually proposed the motion to set up CSWA -- the President is not 
permitted to introduce motions -- and I was the successor President who 
had to navigate through the Annual Business Meeting in 1979.) 
Although I cannot give any further specifics, it is my impression that 
Margaret has continued to inspire young women who were entering astronomy 
or were thinking of that course. I hope that your list will give her a 
high place. 
5. Inventing Equal Opportunity 
From: Andrea Dupree [adupreecfa.harvard.edu] 
Inventing Equal Opportunity 
A new book by Frank Dobbin, professor of sociology at Harvard University. 
Equal opportunity in the workplace is thought to be the direct legacy of 
the civil rights and feminist movements and the landmark Civil Rights 
Act of 1964. Yet, as Frank Dobbin demonstrates, corporate personnel 
experts--not Congress or the courts--were the ones who determined 
what equal opportunity meant in practice, designing changes in how 
employers hire, promote, and fire workers, and ultimately defining what 
discrimination is, and is not, in the American imagination. 
Dobbin shows how Congress and the courts merely endorsed programs devised 
by corporate personnel. He traces how the first measures were adopted 
by military contractors worried that the Kennedy administration would 
cancel their contracts if they didn't take "affirmative action" to end 
discrimination. These measures built on existing personnel programs, many 
designed to prevent bias against unionists. Dobbin follows the changes 
in the law as personnel experts invented one wave after another of equal 
opportunity programs. He examines how corporate personnel formalized 
hiring and promotion practices in the 1970s to eradicate bias by managers; 
how in the 1980s they answered Ronald Reagan's threat to end affirmative 
action by recasting their efforts as diversity-management programs; 
and how the growing presence of women in the newly named human resources 
profession has contributed to a focus on sexual harassment and work/life 
Inventing Equal Opportunity reveals how the personnel profession 
devised--and ultimately transformed--our understanding of discrimination. 
Amazon link: 
6. Software Engineer III - Green Bank, WV 
From: Dee Boyd [dlboydnrao.edu] 
The Robert C. Byrd Green Bank Telescope (GBT) is the world's largest 
fully steerable telescope. Working at wavelengths ranging from 
100cm through 3mm, the GBT supports a diverse range of scientific 
research. Additionally, the GBT has a dynamic program of research and 
development which keeps the telescope at the cutting edge of science 
and technology. 
The National Radio Astronomy is looking for an energetic person to 
join the scientific staff in Green Bank. The successful applicant will 
join the team of scientists at the Green Bank telescope to provide full 
scientific support to the GBT and the NRAO. 
Responsibilities of the successful applicant will include supporting 
observers who use the telescope as well as working on a diverse variety 
of projects, which may include the development and commissioning of new 
instrumentation on the telescope, working with the engineering staff 
to improve the overall telescope performance, and aiding with the data 
reduction pipelines needed for the GBT. Must have strong knowledge of 
radio and/or millimeter astronomy and two to three years experience. 
The successful candidate will have 25% of their time available 
for independent research. Support for research and travel are 
provided, as well as vacation accrual, health insurance, and a moving 
allowance. Position will be filled at the assistant, associate, or 
scientist level, depending on experience. 
Minimum education required is a Ph.D. in astronomy, physics or a related 
Applicants can apply online at  
and should include a description of relevant experience, a curriculum 
vitae including a publication list, a statement of research interests, 
and the names of three scientists who have agreed to provide letters 
of reference. 
Letters of recommendation may be submitted separately via email to 
scurrynrao.edu. Please reference "Assistant Scientist/A, GB00131" in 
the subject line. Review of applicants will begin immediately; however, 
applications will be accepted until the position is filled. NRAO is an 
Equal Opportunity Employer - D/V/M/F 
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8. Access to Past Issues of AASWOMEN 
Past issues of AASWOMEN are available at 
Each annual summary includes an index of topics covered. 
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