AAS Committee on the Status of Women 
Issue of November 19, 2010	
eds. Joan Schmelz, Caroline Simpson & Michele Montgomery

This week's issues:

1. Delusions of Gender

2. Michael Gurian: Leadership and the Sexes 

3. Panel Reviews Lack of Women in Science, Engineering Fields

4. NASA Academy Summer Program

5. Job Opportunities in Australia

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

7. Access to Past Issues of AASWOMEN

1. Delusions of Gender
From: Joan Schmelz [jschmelz_at_memphis.edu]

I would like to recommend a book. Since I've never done this before, I wanted my
first recommendation to be special, and I think I've found a book that fits the

Delusions of Gender: How Our Minds, Society, and Neurosexism Create Difference
By Cordelia Fine

This book recommendation is a follow up to my AASWOMEN item from the July 16,
2010 issue (Talking Points on the Larry Summers Issues: Trucks vs. Dolls). After
completing a talk on Unconscious Bias to an audience of astronomers, a colleague
asked me a private question about his own kids' toy choices. He confessed that
every parent he knew thinks the gender-specific choices result from innate
differences. This intrigued me. With the help of my colleague, Wanda Rushing
from the Univ. of Memphis Sociology department, I got this recommendation from
Sociologists for Women in Society. It is an in-depth, readable, up-to-date book
that addresses this fascinating topic in more detail. I just finished reading
it, and couldn't wait to pass the recommendation along to AASWOMEN readers. Here
are some reviews:

Fine turns the popular science book formula on its head. Chapter-by-chapter, she
introduces ideas about innate differences between the sexes... and then tartly
smacks around studies supposedly supporting them. (Dan Vergano - USA Today)

Cordelia Fine's thorough (and funny!) Delusions of Gender punches a giant
hole in the idea that women's brains are somehow 'hardwired' for nurturing and
domesticity. (Anna North - Jezebel.com)

[Fine] effectively blows the lid off of old tropes... Weaving together
anecdotes, dense research and quotes from numerous experts, she offers a
well-balanced testament to the many ways in which cultural rules inform
behaviors often mistaken as organic to our brains, as opposed to learned... [An]
informative and often surprising study. (Kirkus Reviews)

With a fabulous combination of wit, passion, and scholarship, Fine demolishes
many of the common theories offered to explain the construction of gender in
contemporary society.... She shows that the fact that we spend our lives in
environments that promote gender differentiation makes those differences nothing
more than self-fulfilling prophecies. This marvelous and important book will
change the way readers view the gendered world. (Publishers Weekly)

Delusions of Gender takes on that tricky question, Why exactly are men from Mars
and women from Venus?, and eviscerates both the neuroscientists who claim to
have found the answers and the popularizers who take their findings and run with
them... [Fine] is an acerbic critic, mincing no words when it comes to those she
disagrees with. But her sharp tongue is tempered with humor and linguistic
playfulness... [R]ead this book and see how complex and fascinating the whole
issue is. (Katherine Bouton - The New York Times)

2. Michael Gurian: Leadership and the Sexes 
From: Hannah_at_women_in_astronomy_blog

[It is a coincidence that this item is so closely related to the last, but it
does make for an interesting comparison - Eds]

I recently attended a talk by Michael Gurian, who was promoting his new book,
Leadership and the Sexes: Using Gender Science to Create Success in
Business. With a title like that, I couldn't help but be intrigued, but also

The focus of his talk was not specifically the retention of women in STEM
professions, although he did mention that as a problem he hoped to solve by
pointing out gender differences. His point was that there are, indeed,
biological differences between men and women, in brain activity and development
in particular. While those differences don't translate to differences in
intelligence, the way we communicate and learn is different. He showed us MRI
scans of brains, demonstrating a distinct difference between men's and women's
brains to emphasize his point.

Women's brains have more white matter, while men's have more grey matter. This
means that women have more connections between different areas of the brains.
Thus, men are good at being very single-mindedly focused on one task at a time,
while women are very good at communicating, responding to facial cues, and
making connections. When at rest, men's brains show much less activity on brain
scans then women's. Science is very much a male-brain profession, Gurian argues,
so some specific ways for encouraging women in STEM include:

For more:


3. Panel Reviews Lack of Women in Science, Engineering Fields
From: Joan Schmelz [jschmelz_at_memphis.edu]

Chris Garofolo, a staff writer for the Reformer in Brattleboro, VT wrote
this article on women and review panels.

"While the number of women in the science and engineering fields continues to
grow, they are constantly outnumbered by their male counterparts, especially in
the upper level jobs within science, technology, engineering and mathematics
(known as STEM) professions."

"Girls take the same math and science courses in equal numbers with boys
throughout their elementary, middle and high school careers. They leave to
higher education as prepared to pursue science and engineering majors, but fewer
women actually continue into those jobs."

"So what is holding young women back from choosing these careers?"

"Looking to push aside stereotypes and a longtime bias that diminishes the
achievements of young women in top fields, the Brattleboro branch of the
American Association of University Women sponsored a panel forum titled 'Why
Girls Don't Choose Careers in Science.' "

"The Tuesday night event, held at the Windham Regional Career Center,
highlighted the AAUW's recent report questioning why there are so few women in
the STEM fields."

"Louise Luring, AAUW's public policy chairwoman in Vermont, said social factors
such as stereotypes, learning environments and bias can discourage the
achievements and interests of young women."

"'Women are not as encouraged by society to go into these fields, they are
thought of as men's fields,' she said."

For more, go here:


4. NASA Academy Summer Program
From: Bethany Ehlmann [bethany.ehlmann_at_ias.u-psud.fr]

The 10-week NASA Academy summer program is now taking applications from
undergraduate and beginning graduate students in the sciences, math, and
engineering. Deadline: January 18, 2011.

The Academies are intensive educational programs emphasizing group activities,
teamwork, research, and creativity. The curriculum balances direct contact with
science and engineering R & D with an awareness of the managerial, political,
financial, social and human issues faced by aerospace professionals. Included
are seminars, informal discussions, evening lectures, supervised research,
visits to other NASA Centers and facilities, group project/s, tours,
posters/presentations, and assessment. Additionally, most weekends are filled
with group activities, team building and off-site trips. One free weekend is

The Academy is not a 9-5 summer research internship program. It is a rigorous,
immersive experience that will challenge you. The academy is a space-themed
program of high learning about NASA, its projects and collaborations with
aerospace industry, and academia, with very little down time, but a busy,
exciting summer that you will not forget.


The Academies have separate focus areas of leadership, robotics, aeronatics,
space and planetary science, and propulsion. Please see the website to learn
more about the Academies at each center: Ames (CA), Marshall (AL), Glenn (OH),
and Goddard (MD).

5. Job Opportunities in Australia
From: Sarah Maddison [smaddison_at_swin.edu.au]

The Centre for All-sky Astrophysics (CAASTRO) is a new Australian Research
Council Centre of Excellence scheduled to commence operations in early 2011.
CAASTRO aims to position Australia as the world-leader in wide-field radio and
optical astronomy by answering fundamental questions about the nature of the
Universe, by developing innovative ways of processing enormous data sets, and by
enabling a diverse set of opportunities for students and early career
researchers. CAASTRO is now advertising a range of scientific, technical and
outreach opportunities spread across Australia. For more information and to
apply, please visit


Applications close on 7 December 2010. CAASTRO supports a flexible working
environment: for Australian citizens and permanent residents, most opportunities
are available as either full-time or part-time positions (due to visa
restrictions, international applicants can be considered only on a full-time

6. 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
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7. 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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