AAS Committee on the Status of Women  
Issue of May 7, 2010	 
eds. Joan Schmelz, Caroline Simpson & Michele Montgomery 
This week's issues: 
1. AAS Talk/Poster Policy: A Model for Equality 
2. What Can Men Do to Help Women Succeed in Astronomy? 
3. America Competes 
4. Rude Students 
5. Women Scientists Urge Students to Dream Big 
***The following positions were taken from WIPHYS*** 
6. Research Associate, Gravitational Wave Group, Syracuse University 
7. Assistant Professor, Department of Physics, Ithaca College 
8. How to Submit, Subscribe, or Unsubscribe to AASWOMEN 
9. Access to Past Issues of AASWOMEN 
1. AAS Talk/Poster Policy: A Model for Equality 
From: Kevin Marvel [kevin.marvelaas.org] 
A recent issue of AASWOMEN shared a list of humorous anecdotes under the  
title "You Know You're a Senior Woman if . . ." An item about moving  
submitted oral talks to poster sessions caught my eye and reminded me of what  
Caty Pilachowski (AAS president, 2002-2004) calls, "a perennial problem," the  
low percentages of women speakers at some meetings. I would like to take this  
opportunity to remind the AAS divisions, special session and conference  
organizers, and the astronomy community in general of the AAS policy. 
The AAS has a formal procedure for shifting submitted oral talks to poster  
sessions. The above mentioned AASWOMEN item sparked me to gather some  
statistics. The data, at least those for the sessions structured by the AAS  
itself, not its divisions or special sessions, show no gender disparity.  
Obviously, I don't have data on non-AAS meetings, but I hope that all meeting  
& session organizers will check to ensure that such biases don't creep into  
their planning activities. 
First, the AAS does its best to assign people to the type of session they  
want. This is not the case for late submissions, which are directed to poster  
sessions regardless of the chosen presentation preference of the abstract  
author. There are rare exceptions, usually involving students, where we try  
and allow them to give an oral talk if that is their preference. There has to  
be some consequence for missing the deadline, as numerous late submissions  
make it challenging to arrange the scientific portion of our meeting and  
hinder logistical planning. 
Sometimes however, due to logistical constraints, we are unable to fulfill  
all requests for oral presentations. When we need to shift a submitted oral  
talk to a poster session, we always ask submitters if they would be OK with  
the move. If they are opposed to the change, we try to find another way to  
accommodate their request and the physical constraints of the meeting space.  
This situation only happens when we have filled up all oral talk sessions and  
the only open oral sessions have nothing in common subject-wise with the  
abstract in question. This is done without attention to the gender of the  
submitter and handled administratively by our Abstract Administrator with  
oversight by myself. 
Second, our data shows that the gender differentiation of abstracts shifted  
from oral to poster matches the gender distribution of the Society in  
general. For the last three winter meetings, 31 abstracts (in total, an  
average of 10 per meeting) were switched from oral to poster. Of these,  
twelve were late submissions, falling into the automatically shifted  
category. Of the remaining 19 abstracts, only three were submitted by women.  
Only 16% of the shifted abstracts were submitted by women, whereas the  
overall fraction of women in the society is greater than 35%.  
Finally, the invited speakers are selected by the meeting program committee,  
composed of and led by the Vice Presidents, President, past-President or  
President-elect and myself. During the 16-odd planning meetings I have  
attended the issue of equality of gender representation was always  
voluntarily brought up by two or more of the participants (usually by the  
male participants) and the discussion of gender balance played a role in the  
final selection of speakers for the meeting in question.  
Efforts in the area of diversity in our discipline, as initiated and led by  
the CSWA, CSMA and Council, are having a demonstrable positive impact.  
However, it is clear that biases like that joked about in the AASWOMEN piece  
still take place. Hopefully, the Society's policy can be implemented by  
others organizing meetings in our field. If you ever serve on a scientific  
organizing committee, be sure to point to the Society's efforts in this area.  
By pointing to your Society as a positive example to follow, over time such  
comments will no longer be funny, as the events they scoff at will not take  
I look forward, as always, to serving our community to make things even  
better than they are today. 
2. What Can Men Do to Help Women Succeed in Astronomy? 
From: Joan Schmelz [jschmelzmemphis.edu] 
The Winter AAS Meeting will be 09-13 January 2011 in Seattle, WA, and Town  
Hall proposals are due next week. CSWA is considering a topic along the lines  
of, "What Can Men Do to Help Women Succeed in Astronomy?" Some suggestions  
put forth by Marc Postman and other members of CSWA include: 
-If a woman makes a good point during a discussion, acknowledge it! Don't  
wait until the man who is half as talented makes the same point and give him  
credit instead. I have witnessed this on occasion. 
-Men must be willing to accept that diversity on scientific staff and in  
speaker lists at meetings is a key contribution to scientific excellence. It  
is NOT social engineering.  
-Male astronomers must be trained to be repulsed by a male/female ratio that  
is )> 2 in any astronomical organization or meeting. And then take action to  
fix it and prevent it from happening in future. 
-If a man witnesses other men dominating a discussion at a meeting/conference  
while a woman is trying to make a point then he can speak up and tell his  
colleagues to shut up and listen (although perhaps this too can be  
-Make sure family friendly policies are in place in your institution, even if  
you are single and have no children. 
-Become aware of your own biases. Note: the biggest obstacle to overcoming  
bias is to be unaware that bias exists! 
-Attend a training session on diversity and bias even if you think you, your  
group, and your department has no problem(s). 
-Do not comment on a woman's appearance in any professional context. It is  
Would you like to add to this list? Please send suggestions to me at the  
address above.  
3. America Competes 
From: WIPHYS April 30, 2010 
)From the Association for Women in Science: The America COMPETES Act  
reauthorization is working its way through Congress and AWIS has been  
actively supporting the inclusion of initiatives to support women in academic  
science and engineering. We are very pleased to report that the proposed  
amendment offered by Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson to the America  
Competes reauthorization, "Fulfilling the Potential of Women in Academic  
Science," was passed unanimously by the House Science Committee on April 28,  
2010. The amendment includes support for workshops to enhance gender equity  
and outlines guidance for the collection of data on demographics of faculty  
for institutions receiving federal funding for science and engineering.  
Details at: 
4. Rude Students 
From: WIPHYS May 5, 2010 
"Chief Targets of Student Incivility Are Female and Young Professors", by  
Peter Schmidt, Chronicle of Higher Education, May 5, 2010 
When it comes to being rude, disrespectful, or abusive to their professors,  
students appear most likely to take aim at women, the young, and the  
inexperienced, a new study has found. 
The study, presented here on Sunday at the annual conference of the American  
Educational Research Association, involved an online survey of 339 faculty  
members, roughly evenly split by gender, at nine geographically dispersed  
colleges and universities of various institutional types. It was conducted by  
three researchers at the University of Redlands: Rodney K. Goodyear, a  
professor of education, and Pauline Reynolds and Janee Both Gragg, both  
assistant professors of education. See story at:  
5. Women Scientists Urge Students to Dream Big 
From: Joan Schmelz [jschmelzmemphis.edu] 
Eileen FitzGerald, staff writer for Newstimes, published an article urging  
students to dream big. 
DANBURY -- Eleven-year-old Mackenzie Burns, of Sherman, learned an important  
lesson from women scientists on a panel about careers in science at Western  
Connecticut State University. 
It was good timing. On April 20, the day of the conference, there were more  
women in space than any other time in history. 
Mackenzie learned she should not give up on math, even if she struggles,  
because hard work now could pay off in an interesting career down the road. 
It was a credible message coming from Rachael Manzer, a Simsbury science  
teacher and astronaut-in-training; Ruth Gyure, a WestConn microbiology  
professor; Valentina Luga, a mechanical design engineer, and Suzanne Woll, a  
systems engineer, both at Hamilton Sundstrand. 
"I never really thought about math that way -- the way they explained it,"  
said Mackenzie, a home-schooled sixth-grader. "They explained it in a good  
way. It made me want to do math more. I always wanted to be a scientist." 
To read more, go here: 
6. Research Associate, Gravitational Wave Group, Syracuse University 
From: WIPHYS May 6, 2010 
The Syracuse University Gravitational Wave Group 
is seeking to hire a research associate to work on development and support of  
software infrastructure enabling LIGO data analysis efforts. 
The Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory (LIGO) is an  
ambitious National Science Foundation funded project to detect gravitational  
waves and use them to explore the Universe. Members of the Syracuse group  
play an important role in the search for inspiral and burst sources of  
gravitational waves through their membership of the LIGO Scientific  
Collaboration. The Syracuse group operates a 320 CPU core computing cluster  
with 96Tb of storage for gravitational wave and grid computing research, and  
plays a lead role in the development of LIGO's computational infrastructure. 
The successful candidate will work on design, development, deployment, and  
support of software infrastructure to further the scientific goals of the  
LIGO project. They will have a close connection with scientists conducting  
gravitational-wave data analysis and will have the opportunity make important  
contributions to the search for gravitational waves with LIGO. An incomplete  
list of projects includes tools for scientific data management, workflow  
management, metadata driven workflow planning, and other areas of grid and  
distributed computing in support of science. 
Applications should have a Ph.D. or Masters degree in physics, information  
science, or a related field, excellent computer skills, extensive experience  
with Linux, C programming skills, a working knowledge of popular scripting  
languages including Python, and be highly motivated. Experience with the  
relational databases and/or Condor is a plus, but not essential. The  
successful candidate should be prepared to start June 1, 2010, although some  
flexibility of this date is possible. For full consideration, qualified  
candidates must complete an online application at  
(job number 026206) and attach their curriculum vitae, a list of  
publications, a statement of their qualifications, and the email addresses of  
three references. Review of applications will begin June 1, 2010 and will  
continue until the position is filled. 
Syracuse University is an affirmative action/equal opportunity employer.  
Members of minority groups and women are especially encouraged to apply.  
7. Assistant Professor, Department of Physics, Ithaca College 
From: WIPHYS May 6, 2010 
The Ithaca College Physics Department invites applications for a full-time,  
one-year sabbatical replacement position as Assistant Professor beginning  
August 16, 2010. We seek a conscientious teacher and a practicing physicist  
who will thrive in a four-year comprehensive institution where close contact  
and collaboration with students are the norm. Responsibilities include  
teaching assigned courses with associated office hours, grading, and grade  
assignment. Faculty members are also expected to participate in activities of  
the physics community and the College.  
Qualifications: Ph.D. in physics or related discipline preferred. Outstanding  
candidates who are ABD will be considered. Teaching experience at the college  
level is also expected. 
To apply, visit our website  
Questions about online application, call (607) 274-1207. Review of  
applications will begin immediately and will continue until the position is  
Ithaca College is committed to building a diverse academic community and  
encourages members of underrepresented groups to apply. Experience that  
contributes to the diversity of the college is appreciated. 
8. How to Submit, Subscribe, or Unsubscribe to AASWOMEN 
[Please remember to replace "" in the below e-mail addresses.] 
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9. 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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