AAS Committee on the Status of Women
Issue of March 30, 2012
eds. Joan Schmelz, Caroline Simpson & Michele Montgomery

This week's issues:

1.  Survey of Planetary Workforce

2.  Study of Structures of Inequality in Astronomy

3.  Gender Roles and Infant/Toddler Care

4.  Historic Photos of Female Scientists at Work

5.  Science Education and Communication National Meeting

6.  How to Submit to the AASWOMEN newsletter

7.  How to Subscribe or Unsubscribe to the AASWOMEN newsletter

8.  Access to Past Issues

1.  Survey of Planetary Workforce
From:  Fran Bagenal [Fran.Bagenal_lasp.colorado.edu]

The results of an extensive survey of the planetary workforce is now available at


Part A is a survey of academic departments, including planetary science, that
was published last year.  We now have completed Part B, which is a survey to
individual members of the AAS/DPS, the AGU Planetary Science Section, the
Meteortical Society, as well as attendees of the LPSC, distributed summer 2011.
This survey is aimed at professional planetary scientists (with a PhD) working
in the US.   You can download a 2-page summary and full report of the survey.

One respondent in four (25%) was female. This is consistent with the percentage
of PhDs in astronomy (34% in 2010, rising from 12% in the early 1980s) and
somewhat higher than in physics (19% in 2008). Studies of the academic pipeline
in physics, astronomy and other STEM fields show that women do not apply for
faculty positions in proportion to the fraction of PhDs awarded to women. As
reported in the companion survey of planetary science departments, only 14% of
planetary faculty are women. This is well below the 40% of PhDs from these same
departments awarded to women over the past 2 years.  An important issue to
pursue in a follow-up survey may be why women planetary scientists seem to be
preferentially employed in non-academic positions.

2.  Study of Structures of Inequality in Astronomy
From:  Michele M. Montgomery [montgomery_at_physics.ucf.edu]

UCLA Center for the Study of Women published in one of their January 2012 CSW
Update newsletters a pilot study on the 'Structures of Inequality in Astronomy
through Narrative Analysis and Social Network Visualization' by Luis Felipe et
al.  The authors of the study looked at the 40 top-ranked astronomy and
astrophysics departments in the USA and noticed an underrepresentation of
minority groups. Through mentorship graphs, they found that female and minority
astronomers tend to cluster among astronomers that have the same national and
ethnic background.  Using a map showing research institutions around the world,
they are finding patterns of astronomer movement to and from certain
institutions. The patterns show clustering by gender, ethnicity, and
nationality.  Factors affecting the patterns include the institution,
mentorship, and coauthorship.

To read more on the findings of the pilot study, you can download the article from


3.  Gender Roles and Infant/Toddler Care
From:  Brian Marsony [womeninastronomy.blogspot.com]

I would like to call attention to a recently published study comparing the roles
of men and women in caring for young children (Rhodes & Rhodes, 2012). The study
is a survey of male and female tenure-track college professors with children
under age 2 at universities with parental leave available….

The study found that even with parents who thought child care should be split
equally, fathers of young children almost never did half of the infant care.
This was true even for men who took parental leave and for women who did not.
Women were much more likely to take leave, with 69% of women taking leave
compared to just 12% of men. Women also reported enjoying infant care activities
more than men, one possible reason why women perform more of these tasks.

To read the full blog post, please see


4.  Historic Photos of Female Scientists at Work
From: Joan Schmelz [jschmelz_at_memphis.edu]

Harley Thronson (GSFC) alerted us to a commentary on a collection of  historic
photos of female scientists at work.

Maggie Koerth-Baker wrote on boingboing.net:

I'm sure there are a lot of people reading this who will have a hard time
understanding why I love this collection of historic photos of female
scientists. "Why female scientists?" I can already hear them asking. "Aren't you
doing a disservice to female scientists by singling them out as something

But here's the thing. These photos are special, and what they show is something
that the vast majority of us have not had much exposure to: Images of women (who
are not Marie Curie), working in the sciences prior to the 1970s or 1980s. And
that matters.

When I was in school, I was presented with a history of science that excluded
these women entirely. Other than a precious few exceptions that seemed to prove
the rule, what I learned was that women had not been scientists. Even if you
follow that up with a helpful reminder that women can be scientists today if
they want, that edited version of history is (from my personal experience as a
little girl) discouraging to little girls.

Meanwhile, it turns out that there were plenty of women working in the sciences,
all along. Presenting a version of history that pretends they didn't exist
devalues them, and contributes to the idea that, when we talk about the history
of women in science, we're really just being PC, rather than talking about
things that actually happened.

To read more:


To view the entire collection:


5.  Science Education and Communication National Meeting
From:  Michele M. Montgomery [montgomery_at_physics.ucf.edu]

The Astronomical Society of the Pacific (ASP), along with the American
Geophysical Union (AGU) and the National Optical Astronomy Observatory (NOAO),
will host the 124th annual meeting and national conference on 'Communicating
Science' August 4-8, 2012 in Tucson, Arizona.  The meeting should be of interest
to education and outreach professionals; formal and informal educators;
scientists; print/online authors; journalists; public information officers; and
others involved in communicating science.  Early registration ends May 31, 2012.

For more information, please see


6.  How to Submit to the AASWOMEN newsletter

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8.  Access to Past Issues


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