AAS Committee on the Status of Women 
Issue of September 17, 2010	
eds. Joan Schmelz, Caroline Simpson & Michele Montgomery

This week's issues:

1. Invitation 

2. 3-D Spatial Visualization: Why a Gender Gap?

3. Strategies for Addressing Harassment and Prejudice

4. Mentoring Vital To Nurturing Future Female Scientists

5. Conference for Undergraduate Women

6. Building a Better Pipeline

7. Observe the Moon Night

8. Univ. of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Tenure-Track Assistant Professor

9. How to Submit, Subscribe, or Unsubscribe to AASWOMEN

10. Access to Past Issues of AASWOMEN

1. Invitation 
From: Editors of AASWOMEN [aaswomen_at_aas.org] 

As a new academic year begins, we invite you to help us expand our community of
readers and contributors. Please forward this issue of AASWOMEN to any new
students, post-docs, and scientists that may be interested. Instructions for how
to Submit, Subscribe, or Unsubscribe to 
AASWOMEN appear at the end of each issue and are repeated here.

To submit to AASWOMEN: send email to aaswomen_at_aas.org. 

To subscribe or unsubscribe to AASWOMEN go to 


2. 3-D Spatial Visualization: Why a Gender Gap?
From: Joan Schmelz [jschmelz_at_memphis.edu]

Researchers find that men outscore women by large margins in studies that test
3-D spatial visualization. Some attribute this persistent gender gap to innate
differences, but others suspect that boys might develop these skills when
playing with Lego and Erector Sets. The good news is that recent research shows
that these spatial skills can be taught, even at the college level. After taking
a class specifically designed to teach spatial skills, test scores of college
students improved from an average of 52 % (failing) to 82 %, which is more
typical for successful engineering students. Kids can build a fort for their
soldiers or a castle for their princesses, but the important thing is to build!

The original research is described here:

Sorby, S. A. (2009). Educational research in developing 3-D spatial skills for
engineering students. International Journal of Science Education, 31(3), 459-80.

Sorby, S. A., & Baartmans, B. J. (2000). The development and assessment of a
course for enhancing the 3-D spatial visualization skills of first year
engineering students. Journal of Engineering Education, 89(3), 301-07.

A summary of these studies can be found in Chapter 5 of the excellent AAUW
publication, "Why So Few? Women in Science, Technology, Engineering, and
Mathematics," compiled by Hill, Corbett & St. Rose. You can download a copy


Personal note: "Why So Few?" is an excellent publication, but don't let what
happened to me happen to you. I started reading from the beginning and never got
through the long and detailed Introduction. Make no mistake, the Introduction is
full of important information, but I confess that I did get bogged down in it.
Chapter 5 on Spatial Skills is short and to the point. If you work at a school
with an engineering department or a university with an engineering school,
please pass this information on to your engineering colleagues.

3. Strategies for Addressing Harassment and Prejudice
From: Dara Norman [dnorman_at_noao.edu]

At the January 2011 AAS meeting in Seattle, WA, the CSMA and CSWA will
co-sponsor a special session entitled, "Strategies for Addressing Harassment and
Prejudice". The session is scheduled for 10 January 2011, 10:00am-11:30am.
Please join us!

As with many companies, industries and universities, the field of Astronomy is
not immune to harassment or prejudice. The proliferation of student and
professional blogs now document many cases of harassment (sexual and otherwise)
within the field by perpetrators at all levels. Victims of such abuses often
feel alone and without recourse. Fear of not being believed or of retaliation
keep those involved from reporting these incidents and often institutional
policies on harassment and EEOC complaints have not been made clear or are

The session is intended to provide practical information on addressing
harassment and prejudice in the workplace and the classroom. Speakers were
selected because of their expertise with the legal, human resources, and EEOC
aspects of combating harassment and prejudice in the workplace, as well as for
their familiarity with the field of Astronomy. The speakers will provide
information on documenting abuses, seeking help and support within as well as
outside of one's immediate workplace, and the legal obligations of those to whom
the abuse is reported. The organizers encourage attendance by colleagues at all
levels who are interested in eradicating common and currently accepted prejudice
and harassment from our field.

Title: Building Respect and Inclusion in Astronomy - Strategies for
Understanding and Overcoming Harassment
Speaker: Sheryl Bruff, Human Resources Branch Chief at STScI and an AURA
Diversity Advocate

Title: What to do about Inappropriate Behavior 
Speaker: Prof. Bernice Durand has been the Vice Provost for diversity and
climate, senior diversity officer and is a professor of physics at University of
Wisconsin Madison. She is also the Chair of the AURA Workforce and Diversity

4. Mentoring Vital To Nurturing Future Female Scientists
From: Joan Schmelz [jschmelz_at_memphis.edu]

HealthNewsDigest.com article discusses the importance of mentoring:

Has your daughter or another young girl in your life ever shown interest in
helping animals, piloting planes or creating her own toys? If so, it could be a
sign that she's primed for a future career in science, technology, engineering
or math (STEM). In 2008, the Bureau of Labor Statistics projected that
employment in professional scientific and technical services will grow by 34
percent, adding about 2.7 million new jobs by 2018; experts say now is the time
to encourage a young girl's interest in these thriving fields.

Despite the growing professional opportunities and market need, women are
significantly underrepresented in STEM fields, and research from the 2010
Lemelson-MIT Invention Index identifies a basic hurdle that needs to be
overcome: Ninety-one percent of teenage girls say they're interested in one or
more of those four subjects, but almost 33 percent might feel discouraged to
pursue a related career because they either don't know anyone working in these
fields or don't understand what STEM jobs entail.

No doubt that's why many of today's successful female scientists stress the
importance of having strong mentors-as all five winners of this year's
L'Oréal USA Fellowships For Women in Science did growing up.

For the full article, see:


5. Conference for Undergraduate Women
From: WIPHYS Sep 13, 2010

Register by September 30, 2010 

The University of Nebraska - Lincoln is bringing together outstanding student
researchers in Physics and Astronomy for a four-day conference, from Thursday,
October 7th through Sunday, October 10th. Undergraduate students are invited to
take part in this unique opportunity to expand upon their current research
experiences, interact with physics and astronomy students from other
universities, and attend scientific talks given by scientists who are leaders in
their field. All local expenses, including food and hotel accommodation, are
covered by sponsors, and there is no registration fee. In addition, they are
able to provide travel scholarships to undergraduate participants. Support is
given upon request by the supervising faculty.


6. Building a Better Pipeline
From: Joan Schmelz [jschmelz_at_memphis.edu]

Larry Bock, Founder and Organizer of the USA Science & Engineering Festival,
writes about increasing diversity in STEM disciplines: 

We pride ourselves on being a nation of diversity. But when it comes to
diversifying our workforce in high-tech fields of tomorrow, well, let's just say
we still have a lot of work to do. 

Consequently, as we attempt to motivate more young students into the areas of
science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), it is paramount that we also
increase our efforts to include more women and underrepresented minorities in
these fields. 

To put it succinctly, if America is to retain its role as a global leader in
technology, it is essential that we tap the imagination and intellectual
contributions of women, African Americans, Hispanics and Native Americans --
groups that have traditionally been poorly represented in STEM professions.

For the full article, see:


7. Observe the Moon Night
From: Michele Montgomery [montgomery_at_physics.ucf.edu]

International Observe the Moon Night: September 18, 2010

Saturday night, September 18, is the first annual International Observe the Moon
Night (InOMN). NASA organized the event for people who are curious about Moon
and would like to find out more about it. Professional and amateur astronomers,
astronomy clubs, planetariums, science centers and all astronomy enthusiasts
worldwide are invited to mark the inauguration of this annual event by attending
a NASA center or a local sponsor. More information on this IYA event can be
found at

http://www.astronomy2009.org/news/updates/1038/ .

Local Moon maps and other information to take yourself on a guided tour can be
found at

http://observethemoonnight.org/downloads/ .

8. Univ. of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Tenure-Track Assistant Professor
From: Bryan C. Dunne [bdunne_at_illinois.edu]

The Astronomy Department at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
invites applications for a tenure-track Assistant Professor appointment in
observational or theoretical cosmology, to begin as early as 16 August 2011.

The department has vibrant research programs in many areas, including cosmology.
Facilities for millimeter astronomy and computational astrophysics are
particular strengths, as the Department is a member of the CARMA consortium, and
the University is the site of NCSA and the Blue Waters petascale computing
system that will go online in 2011. Illinois is also a member of the Dark Energy
Survey and will host the main data repository for the LSST.

Candidates must have a Ph.D. in Astronomy or a closely related field. Salary is
competitive. Please create your candidate profile through 


and upload application materials through this system, including your application
letter, curriculum vitae, publication list, and statement of research plans. In
addition, three letters of recommendation must be sent to

To ensure full consideration, all materials (including letters of
recommendation) must be submitted by the closing date of 1 December 2010.
Although early applications are appreciated and interviews may be conducted
before the closing date, no hiring decision will be made until after the closing
date. For more information about the Department or the search, please phone Dr.
Bryan Dunne at 217-333-5537, email search_at_astro.illinois.edu, or go to 


Illinois is an Affirmative Action /Equal Opportunity Employer and welcomes
individuals with diverse backgrounds, experiences, and ideas who embrace and
value diversity and inclusivity. 

The official job posting and online application submission can be found at: 


9. How to Submit, Subscribe, or Unsubscribe to AASWOMEN

[Please remember to replace "_at_" in the below e-mail addresses.]

To submit to AASWOMEN: send email to aaswomen_at_aas.org. All material sent to
that address will be posted unless you tell us otherwise (including your email

To subscribe or unsubscribe to AASWOMEN go to


If you experience any problems, please email itdept_at_aas.org

10. Access to Past Issues of AASWOMEN

Past issues of AASWOMEN are available at


Each annual summary includes an index of topics covered.


AASWList mailing list

End of AASWList Digest, Vol 43, Issue 3