AAS Committee on the Status of Women  
Issue of March 19, 2010	 
eds. Joan Schmelz, Caroline Simpson & Michele Montgomery 
This week's issues: 
1. Anti-Harassment Policy and Procedures for AAS Meetings 
2. What to Do When YOU Are the Chair 
3. Neither Men Nor Mice 
4. WISE WOMEN: Girls Learn the Value of Science, Math in Novel Program 
5. Teacher Aims to Get More Girls Involved in Science 
6. Summit on Gender and the Postdoctorate 
7. How to Submit, Subscribe, or Unsubscribe to AASWOMEN 
8. Access to Past Issues of AASWOMEN 
1. Anti-Harassment Policy and Procedures for AAS Meetings 
From: Debra Elmegreen [elmegreenvassar.edu] 
[Do you know an astronomer who seems to take pleasure in humiliating young  
scientists when they're presenting a poster or answering questions after a  
talk? CSWA asked the AAS to look into this issue. Here is the reply from the  
AAS president elect -- Eds.] 
We are all familiar with overly aggressive people, who can make us  
uncomfortable through their words or actions. But that aggression can cross  
the line into harassment, and the AAS has taken steps to alleviate such  
problems. It is worth reiterating that we have an AAS Ethics Statement,  
adopted by Council in Jan. 2010, and an Anti-Harassment Policy for AAS  
Meetings, proposed in 2008. These are now available through a direct link on  
the AAS homepage (‘Legal and Policy Information’ at the bottom of the  
sidebar). In particular, the latter policy states in part that ‘all  
participants in Society activities will enjoy an environment free from all  
forms of discrimination, harassment, and retaliation.’ There is a mechanism  
in place in that policy for complaints to be reported to any of the AAS  
Officers, including the Executive Officer, who will then take appropriate  
Kevin Marvel and the AAS Staff have also amended the Session Chairs  
instructions to include explicit mention of the responsibility of chairs to  
thwart harassment; see 
[which states in part that] session chairs are responsible for ensuring a  
professional atmosphere in each session, consistent with the AAS  
professional ethics guidelines and anti-harassment policies. Session chairs  
should especially be wary of harassment of early-career speakers in the form  
of overly challenging or humiliating questioning by session attendees. If a  
question is inappropriate or unprofessional, it is appropriate for the  
session chair to intervene or take another question. 
In addition, we can all make efforts to be aware of and help prevent such  
transgressions at AAS meetings (in addition to our home institutions). 
2. What to Do When YOU Are the Chair 
From: Caty Pilachowski [catypastro.indiana.edu] 
The AAS policy goes a long way toward addressing the problem of harassment  
at meetings, but what do you do if you are the session chair? Sometimes  
comments and questions from the audience are so shocking and inappropriate  
that we can be stunned, leaving the speaker to fend for her/himself.  
Remember that others in the audience are shocked as well, and look to you to  
intervene on behalf of the speaker -- so you need to be prepared.  
Depending on the incident, chairs could respond in a variety of ways.  
Perhaps the mildest might be, "That question is inappropriate in this  
session. I suggest that you discuss the point privately with the speaker at  
another time." A stronger statement might be, "That comment is out of  
order," or even "It is our responsibility as members to adhere to the  
Society's anti-harassment policy. That comment/question is out of order." In  
the most egregious cases, a chair might even say, "I apologize on behalf of  
the Society for that inappropriate comment." Then, if you can, ask a  
question of your own to help the speaker regain equilibrium, and encourage  
another question from the audience, particularly from someone you think  
would be sympathetic. 
[If you have any other suggestions or advice on this topic, please send them  
to us at aaswomenaas.org -- Eds.] 
3. Neither Men Nor Mice 
From: John Leibacher [leibnoao.edu] 
Here is a NY Times article by Peggy Klaus entitled, “Neither Men Nor Mice.” 
Last fall, while working with corporate women across various industries, job  
levels and generations, an age-old issue re-emerged at a near-fever pitch.  
Women were obsessed about being labeled a “bitch,” and to a degree I hadn’t  
seen since the 1990s.  
The reason for their nervousness? Sure, they saw obnoxious women on reality  
TV shows. And they endured all the talk-show lampooning of Sarah Palin and  
Hillary Rodham Clinton during the 2008 presidential campaign. Yet one issue  
was even more personal: A recession was in full swing, and jobs were on the  
The remainder of the article can be found here: 
4. WISE WOMEN: Girls Learn the Value of Science, Math in Novel Program 
From: Joan Schmelz [jschmelzmemphis.edu] 
An article by Grant Welker appeared recently in the Herald News on Wise  
New Bedford — When competition is global for science and engineering jobs,  
the United States cannot afford to have half its brainpower — women — not  
working in those fields, Jean MacCormack told teachers and scientists at the  
Ocean Explorium Thursday. 
MacCormack, the chancellor of the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, was  
the keynote speaker at the kickoff of the second year of a series called  
Women in Science and Engineering — or Wise — which encourages girls to  
consider jobs in those professions. “Women in science isn’t as common as  
you’d think in this day and age,” MacCormack said. 
For the remainder of the article, please see: 
5. Teacher Aims to Get More Girls Involved in Science 
From: Joan Schmelz [jschmelzmemphis.edu] 
An article by Amanda Memrick appeared recently in Gaston Gazette on getting  
girls involved in science. 
Judith McDonald was the only girl in her high school physics class. She  
continued to see fewer women in fields like science and math in college when  
she majored in engineering. “I said, ‘We’ve got to change this,’” said  
McDonald, who teaches science education at Belmont Abbey College. McDonald  
is trying to make a change by starting early. 
Girls at North Belmont Elementary are honing their math and science skills  
through the Girls Leading Girls program that matches Belmont Abbey College  
women majoring in science, technology, engineering and mathematics with  
fifth grade girls. 
For the remainder of the article, please see: 
6. Summit on Gender and the Postdoctorate 
From: HannahWomen in Astronomy Blog 
Last week, I attended the National Postdoctoral Association's Summit on  
Gender and the Postdoctorate, which was held in Philadelphia last week, on  
March 11-12. I started writing up my thoughts about the meeting, and it  
started to get really long, so I've decided to break it up into a series of  
posts. The presentations will all be made available on the web eventually,  
but I'll present some highlights (and my own personal take on things) here.  
Since my last post on employment sparked a bunch of discussion, I thought I  
would start by discussing the postdoc in terms of career trajectories. The  
upshot of the comments on my previous post is that there are plenty of valid  
career options for PhDs in astronomy, and that both early career astronomers  
(i.e. grad students and postdocs) and those training them need to be aware  
of the options, and to not view a research faculty positions as the be-all  
and end-all of a successful career. 
To read more, go here: 
7. How to Submit, Subscribe, or Unsubscribe to AASWOMEN 
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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.