AAS Committee on the Status of Women 
Issue of November 6, 2009                                   
eds. Joan Schmelz, Caroline Simpson & Michele Montgomery 
  
This week's issues: 
  
1. Addressing Unconscious Bias 
  
2. What Can I Do? Inspirations from Women in Astronomy III 
  
3. Women in Astronomy III -- Results? 
  
4. New Game Plays on Women's Experiences of Gender Bias in Academe 
  
5. Under the Radar: The First Woman in Radio Astronomy, Ruby Payne-Scott 
  
***The following position was taken from WIPHYS*** 
  
6. Chairperson, Dept of Physics and Astronomy, Appalachian State University 
  
7. How to Submit, Subscribe, or Unsubscribe to AASWOMEN 
  
8. Access to Past Issues of AASWOMEN 
  
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1. Addressing Unconscious Bias 
From: Joan Schmelz [jschmelzmemphis.edu] 
  
[We continue to summarize the major outcomes from the Women in Astronomy 
III conference held at the University of Maryland October 21-23, 2009 
- Eds.] 
 
For me, the talk by Abigail Stewart from the University of Michigan on 
"Addressing Unconscious Bias" was well worth the price of admission. 
  
We all have biases, and we are (for the most part) unaware of them. In 
general, men and women BOTH unconsciously devalue the contributions 
of women. This can have a detrimental effect on grant proposals, job 
applications, and performance reviews. 
 
Sociology is way ahead of astronomy in these studies. When evaluating 
identical application packages, male and female University psychology 
professors preferred 2:1 to hire "Brian" over "Karen" as an 
assistant professor. When evaluating a more experienced record (at the 
point of promotion to tenure), reservations were expressed four times 
more often when the name was female. This unconscious bias has a repeated 
negative effect on Karen's career. Ref: Steinpreis, Anders, & Ritzke 
(1999) Sex Roles, 41, 509. 
 
More recently, the unconscious bias against motherhood was 
evaluated. Resumes for Jane Smith were identical except for one small 
detail: Active in the PTA. This line indicated that Jane was a mother, 
and she was rated significantly lower than "non-mother" Jane. When 
evaluating identical applications: Evaluators rated mothers as less 
competent and committed to paid work than non-mothers; prospective 
employers called mothers back about half as often as non-mothers; 
and mothers were less likely to be recommended for hire, promotion, 
and management, and were offered lower starting salaries than 
non-mothers. Ref: Correll, Benard and Paik (2007) American Journal of 
Sociology, 112 (5), 1297-1338. 
 
New to me in this talk were the results for "father" and 
"non-father" John. As above, the results were identical except of 
one line: Active in the PTA. But this time, "father" John got higher 
ratings than "non-father" John! Fathers were not disadvantaged in 
the hiring process and were seen as more committed to paid work and 
offered higher starting salaries than non-fathers. What's a mother to 
do? Ref: Correll, Benard and Paik (2007) American Journal of Sociology, 
112 (5), 1297-1338. 
 
The other great thing about this talk was the list of recommendations on 
how to begin to eliminate unconscious bias. Increasing the proportion of 
women raises the ratings of all women. Here's an example for a faculty 
search committee: 
 
-Awareness: we all want to hire someone who is just like us, so start 
by shining a light on the problem. Make sure the search committee is 
as diverse as possible. Recruit from a wider range of institutions. Use 
open searches with the broadest possible job descriptions; 
 
-Policy: do NOT ask each committee member to find the top three 
applicants; rather, outline the characteristics for a successful applicant 
and make an extended short list of the applicants that satisfy those 
characteristics; 
 
-Practice: insert a phone interview step into the selection process and 
interview all those applicants on the extended short list; 
 
-Accountability: it is the job of the search committee to create a more 
diverse department. Cultivate practices that mitigate bias. Monitor both 
processes and outcomes. Create policies that support fair evaluation 
processes. Build in accountability for outcomes. Link rewards to 
outcomes. Link evaluation of leaders to outcomes. 
 
CSWA is hoping to invite Dr. Stewart to speak at an upcoming AAS meeting, 
perhaps even as a plenary speaker. Would you attend such a talk? 
 
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2. What Can I Do? Inspirations from Women in Astronomy III From: Joan 
Schmelz [jschmelzmemphis.edu] 
 
[AASWOMEN has started a list of suggestions inspired by the comments of 
attendees of the Women in Astronomy III conference. We found that many 
postdocs and graduate students would like to do something to promote women 
in astronomy and help create a more female-friendly workplace, but their 
time is limited. We decided to generate a list of such activities. Here 
is the latest - Eds.] 
 
Invite your department chair/boss/research supervisor to attend a 
CSWA-sponsored session and/or Town Hall at the next AAS meeting. 
 
CSWA is co-sponsoring 2 sessions at the Jan AAS meeting.  Here are 
short descriptions: 
 
Mentoring: morning and afternoon of Wednesday, 6 January 2010 Main 
organizer: Dara Norman [dnormannoao.edu] 
 
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 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. 
 
Longitudinal Study: afternoon of Monday, 4 January 2010 Main organizer: 
Rachel Ivie [rivieaip.org] 
 
AIP recently completed data collection for the first phase of the 
longitudinal study of astronomy graduate students, 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 observatories. 
 
During the first wave of data collection, 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. 
 
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3. Women in Astronomy III -- Results?  From: 
CarolineWomen_in_Astronomy_Blog, Nov 4, 2009 
 
[The blog is back! Be sure to check out the latest postings – Eds.] 
 
http://womeninastronomy.blogspot.com/ 
 
Regarding amydove's comment to WIA 2009: Criticisms that the meeting 
didn't really have an outcome: it will. The CSWA has been tasked to 
develop a Strategic Plan, which includes identification of issues to 
be addressed, goals to achieve, strategies by which to achieve them, 
and next actions. 
 
During the meeting, we mined the crowd for ideas for our future vision 
and work. Issues that came up (which include some of the ones you have 
seen here) are: 
 

 
This is not an all-inclusive list; just a sample. When our strategic 
plan is finalized, we'll post it here. Let us know your ideas for what 
needs to be done next. What will the summary of WIA 2009 outcomes be at 
the next WIA meeting? 
 
* since the traditional path is taken by a minority of people, then 
shouldn't we redefine "traditional" -- it certainly doesn't mean "usual" 
or "normal!" 
 
** one thing from the meeting that struck me was that men with children 
are viewed more positively than men without (it's a marker of stability 
and maturity), while women with children are viewed more negatively 
(she'll have extra demands on her time). 
 
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4. New Game Plays on Women's Experiences of Gender Bias in Academe From: 
Catherine Garland [catherine.garlandcastleton.edu] 
 
Robin Wilson of the Chronicle of Higher Education writes, "As a female 
professor, are you called rude and abrasive while your male colleagues who 
make similar statements are simply labeled assertive? Has your department 
head discouraged you from taking an assignment, saying that because you 
have children you might not be able to handle it? If things like that 
have happened to you, yell: "Bingo!" 
 
The article is available for a limited time on the Chronicle site without 
a subscription: 
 
http://chronicle.com/article/New-Game-Plays-on-Womens/48966/ 
 
The website with the game, however, is open to everyone: 
 
http://www.genderbiasbingo.com/games.html 
 
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5. Under the Radar: The First Woman in Radio Astronomy, Ruby 
Payne-Scott From: Miller Goss [mgossaoc.nrao.edu]; Brigette Hesman 
[bhesmanaoc.nrao.edu] 
 
Ruby Payne-Scott (1912-1981) was an eminent Australian scientist who made 
major contributions to the WWII radar effort of the Council for Scientific 
and Industrial Research, Division of Radiophysics from 1941 to 1945. In 
late 1945 she began pioneering radio astronomy efforts at Dover Heights in 
Sydney; she continued these ground breaking activities until 1951. Most 
probably Payne-Scott carried out the first interferometer observations 
in radio astronomy at sun-rise, 26 January 1946. The location was at 
Dover Heights using an Australian Army radar as a radio telescope. A 
"sea-cliff" interferometer was used at an eastern facing 100 meter 
cliff at Dover Heights, Sydney. 
 
Payne-Scott made remarkable contributions to the theory of radio 
interferometry and collaborated with Joseph Pawsey in the first 
formulation of the concept of aperture synthesis in mid 1946. She was also 
an active collaborator with B.Y. Mills, Chris Christiansen, Alec Little, 
and John Bolton.  Payne-Scott and Little developed the first swept lobe 
interferometer to follow the motions of solar radio bursts of Type II 
and Type IV at 100 MHz.  Payne-Scott played the key role in elucidating 
the properties of the ubiquitous Type III solar radio bursts; from the 
short time delays observed (high frequencies observed initially, lower 
frequencies later), she inferred the slightly relativistic velocities 
of the exciters of these events in the solar corona. 
 
The book also summarizes the conflicts that Payne-Scott had with the 
CSIRO hierarchy due to the fact that she was a woman. She was in conflict 
with the CSIRO administration when her marriage from 1944 was discovered in 
1950. Payne-Scott left CSIRO when her son was born in late 1951. Also she 
protested the wage inequality of women in the post World War II era. Other 
aspects of her life that are described are her membership in the Communist 
Party of Australia, her passion for bush walking and the success of her 
two famous children. The authors have attempted to place her scientific 
achievements and the discrimination she faced in a modern context. 
 
Miller Goss (NRAO) and Richard X. McGee (CSIRO) have recently published 
this book in the series Astrophysics and Space Science Library of 
Springer. The book is also available as an e-book to institutions that 
have a Springer e-book subscription.  The book will be launched at 
Sydney University on 25 November 2009. The book has 354 pages and about 
120 figures. 
 
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6. Chairperson, Dept of Physics and Astronomy, Appalachian State 
University From: WIPHYS Nov 6, 2009 
 
The Department of Physics and Astronomy at Appalachian State University 
 
www.physics.appstate.edu 
 
invites applications and nominations for the position of department 
Chairperson, with a start date of July 1, 2010. Applicants must hold a 
Ph.D. in Physics, Astronomy, or a related field, and must be eligible 
for tenure at the rank of Associate or Full Professor. 
 
Applicants must provide evidence of excellence in undergraduate and 
graduate instruction, research, and outreach, with preference for those 
with administrative experience. The successful candidate will possess 
outstanding communication, interpersonal, and mentoring skills in support 
of faculty, staff, and student development. While providing leadership 
toward meeting or exceeding departmental and institutional goals, 
including interdisciplinary teaching and research, the Chairperson will 
enhance existing levels of external funding, and will develop foundational 
support, academic collaborations and corporate partnerships. Department 
Chairpersons normally teach one class per semester and maintain an active 
research program. 
 
The department offers B.S. degrees in Applied Physics and Secondary 
Education ­Physics, a B.A. in Physics, an M.S. in Engineering Physics, 
and a Professional Science Master's concentration in Instrumentation 
and Automation. Facilities include, but are not limited to: the Dark 
Sky Observatory; the state-of-the-art Rankin Astronomy Instructional 
Facility; a new nanoscience and advanced materials laboratory including 
extensive electron, ion and scanned probe microscopy facilities; an 
electrostatics laboratory; an ion trapping laboratory; optoelectronic 
and spectroscopy research facilities; instrumentation and automation 
research and instruction labs; and a well-established teaching and 
demonstration infrastructure. 
 
Examples of faculty research areas include: eclipsing binaries, asteroid 
research, stellar spectroscopy, exoplanets, atmospheric and environmental 
physics, archeophysics, biophysics, early universe physics, physics 
education research, nanoscience, and advanced materials research. The 
department houses a complete machine shop and electronics shop. In 
addition, the department hosts the editorial offices of The Physics 
Teacher magazine. The department has 14 tenure-track faculty members, 
six part-time faculty, four staff, approximately 75 undergraduate majors, 
and 20 master's students. 
 
Appalachian State University is a member institution of the 16-campus 
University of North Carolina System and is located in Boone, NC. 
Additional information about the Department of Physics and Astronomy, 
the University, and surrounding area can be found on the University's 
website (www.appstate.edu). 
 
Applicants must send a complete application consisting of: letter of 
application; current curriculum vitae; three letters of recommendation 
including names, email addresses, and telephone numbers; and statements 
of teaching philosophy, administrative philosophy, and research plans 
that specifically address undergraduate participation to: Dr. Patricia 
E. Allen, phychairsearchappstate.edu . Electronic applications required 
in pdf format only.   Complete applications may also be mailed to 
Dr. Patricia E. Allen, Department of Physics & Astronomy, ASU PO Box 
32106, Appalachian State University, Boone, NC 28608. 
 
Review of complete applications will begin November 1, 2009, and will 
continue until the position is filled. Appalachian State University is an 
Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer with a strong institutional 
commitment to the achievement of excellence among its faculty, staff 
and students; to the principles of diversity and inclusion; and to 
maintaining a work and learning environment that is free of all forms 
of discrimination. 
 
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8. 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.