AAS Committee on the Status of Women
Issue of January 13, 2012
eds. Joan Schmelz, Caroline Simpson, and Michele Montgomery

This week's issues:

1. 2012 George van Biesbroeck Prize

2. 'Geek' Perception of Computer Science Putting Off Girls, Expert Warns

3. Women Need More Role Models, Tech Leaders Tell CES Panel

4. Secretary Clinton Announcement at the "Celebrating Women in Science" Event

5. Boston's Women in Bio Aims to Fuel STEM Curiosity in Middle Schoolers

6. How to Submit to the AASWOMEN Newsletter

7. How to Subscribe or Unsubscribe to the AASWOMEN Newsletter

8. Access to Past Issues of the AASWOMEN Newsletter

1. 2012 George van Biesbroeck Prize
From: Joan Schmelz [jschmelz_at_memphis.edu]

CSWA has just learned that the 2012 George van Biesbroeck Prize will be awarded
to one of our own, Meg Urry, for her tireless efforts to enhance the
participation of women in astronomy! The citation will read as follows:

"The 2012 George van Biesbroeck Prize, which honors an individual for long-term
extraordinary or unselfish service to astronomy, is awarded to Dr. C. Megan Urry
for her sustained efforts to increase the number of women in astronomy. She was
one of the five original organizers of the first "Women in Astronomy" meeting in
Baltimore, was coauthor of the "http://www.aas.org/cswa/bc.html" and persuaded the AAS council
to endorse the charter's goals. She also organized the second of these meetings
in Pasadena in 2003. In addition to encouraging many young women scientists on
an individual basis, she revived and edited for seven years STATUS, the
newsletter of the Committee on the Status of Women of the AAS. She also
published the results of key statistical studies, wrote numerous articles and
gave many lectures on the status of minorities in the sciences. Through the
years she has helped transform our field from one with a rather restrictive view
of who belongs in the profession to one that is now held as an example for other
disciplines on how to diversify the field. She did all this while at the same
time achieving a distinguished career in astrophysics herself."

Congratulations, Meg!

2. 'Geek' Perception of Computer Science Putting Off Girls, Expert Warns
From: Joan Schmelz [jschmelz_at_memphis.edu]

Jessica Shepherd, education correspondent for the guardian.co.uk, wrote:

One of the world's leading computer scientists, Professor Dame Wendy Hall, has
warned that girls are increasingly shunning her subject at school and

Hall, who invented a forerunner to the World Wide Web, said the problem of a
scarcity of girls studying computer science was "getting worse" despite huge
efforts from the scientific community to address the issue.

Hall, the dean of the faculty of physical and applied sciences at the University
of Southampton, told the Guardian that girls still perceive computing to be "for
geeks" and that this has proved to be a "cultural" obstacle, so far impossible
to overcome.

Hall played a prominent role in shaping science and technology policy as well as
carrying out pioneering research, but said computer science had to be "given a
buzz" to all pupils in primary schools and children needed to be shown how vital
the discipline is to society.

She said instead of showing pupils how computers work, they were being taught
about how to use a computer to produce spreadsheets, presentations and other
documents. Hall said this had exacerbated the shortage of girls taking up
computer science.

"Girls have been further put off by dumbing down computing to IT literacy ...
They think that if they study computing they are going to become secretaries."

To read more:


3. Women Need More Role Models, Tech Leaders Tell CES Panel
From: Joan Schmelz [jschmelz_at_memphis.edu]

Jay Greene wrote this article for CES.CNET:

LAS VEGAS--Even though women have taken great strides in technology, a panel of
top women in the industry suggested that great role models could help them gain

Those role models shouldn't be merely top executives, said Cisco Systems Chief
Technology Officer Padmasree Warrior, one of the highest ranking women in the
industry. Young women considering pursuing careers in tech need to see
accomplished women in a variety of jobs.

"We need to have successful role models at every level," Warrior said during
CNET Women in Tech panel at the Consumer Electronics Show here this afternoon.

Warrior was joined on the panel by Google Vice President Marissa Mayer, Flickr
founder Catarina Fake, and Lindsey Turrentine, editor-in-chief of CNET Reviews.
Warrior told the panel, moderated by CNET Executive Editor Molly Wood, that
women didn't need "heroes." What helps, though, are women who can talk about the
struggles they've faced, and the tactics they've used to overcome them.

"There is value in sharing your experiences," Warrior said.

To read more:


4. Secretary Clinton Announcement at the "Celebrating Women in Science" Event
From: Joan Schmelz [jschmelz_at_memphis.edu]

Press release from the U.S. Department of State:

On Nobel Prize Day, December 10, 2011, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton
launched the NeXXt Scholars Initiative in a video address at the New York
Academy of Sciences event, "Celebrating Women in Science" honoring the 100th
anniversary of Marie Curie's second Nobel Prize in science. This new partnership
initiative responds to the Secretary's core mission of empowering women around
the world, by educating them to be the leaders of tomorrow.

The NeXXt Scholars Initiative engages young women from predominantly Muslim
countries to pursue an undergraduate degree in science, technology, engineering,
and math (STEM) at U.S. Women's Colleges. In addition to a high-quality STEM
education, this U.S. Government partnership with nearly 40 women's colleges will
provide mentorship, networking, support, and enrichment activities for these
international NeXXt Scholars and an American student nominated to be her
STEM-Sister. The New York Academy of Sciences will support these efforts by
providing Academy memberships and mentorship to these women, connecting NeXXt
Scholars with a large network of women in STEM fields through its Science
Alliance program.

Dr. E. William Colglazier, the Science and Technology Adviser to Secretary
Clinton, gave remarks at the event about the Department's commitment to this
initiative and praised the spirit of collaboration of all partners including
EducationUSA Centers, U.S. Agency for International Development, New York
Academy of Sciences and nearly 40 U.S. women's colleges. Attendees included an
influential group of scientists, as well as leaders from government, academia,
industry, and philanthropy. A host of notable women participated in the event,
including honorary guest Her Royal Highness Princess Madeleine of Sweden,
Science Envoy and President of Lehigh University, Dr. Alice P. Gast, and keynote
speaker Dr. Ellen Kullman, chair of the board and CEO of DuPont. Representatives
from 19 of the 37 women's colleges partnering in the NeXXt Scholars Initiative
were in attendance, including the five 'sister' colleges: Barnard, Bryn Mawr,
Mount Holyoke, Smith and Wellesley, as well as, College of Saint Benedict,
Carlow University, Agnes Scott, Spelman, and Simmons Colleges. The presidents of
Bennett College for Women, College of Saint Elizabeth, Douglass Residential
College of Rutgers University, Saint Joseph, Bay Path, Saint Mary-of-the-Woods,
Scripps, Stephens, and Columbia Colleges were all in attendance for the launch
of this partnership initiative. NeXXt Scholars recruitment is currently underway
for the first cohort entering this fall.

To read more:


5. Boston's Women in Bio Aims to Fuel STEM Curiosity in Middle Schoolers
From: Joan Schmelz [jschmelz_at_memphis.edu]

Amy Speak posted this article on Xconomy:

According to the National Science Foundation, eighth grade girls are half as
likely to be interested in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM)
careers as boys-a dramatic change from second grade, where the numbers are
roughly equal. This trend continues through high school, college and into the
workplace, as even women with advanced science degrees tend to leave the field
at higher rates than their male counterparts. The numbers also show that careers
of men and women in bioscience progress at markedly different rates; while women
and men each hold about half of the graduate degrees in biology, far more senior
leadership roles are held by men than women (17 percent vs. 83 percent,

Women In Bio Greater Boston (WIB-GB) is one group that is trying to change that.
It is the newest chapter of a fast-growing international trade association aimed
at fostering leadership, entrepreneurship and careers of women in the
biosciences. Comprised of professionals across the career continuum-from those
just starting out to industry veterans-the group plans to leverage the region's
strong biotechnology supercluster to provide career development opportunities
for women in New England. Programming being planned for 2012 includes
networking, mentoring and educational events specifically geared at the
interests of and challenges faced by women working in this industry.

To read more:


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8. Access to Past Issues


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End of AASWList Digest, Vol 59, Issue 2