AAS Committee on the Status of Women
Issue of July 6, 2012
eds. Joan Schmelz, Caroline Simpson & Michele Montgomery

This week's issues:

1. Women in Science article - follow up

2. Wave-Particle Duality 

3. From Astrophysics to the Hill

4. Science: Best Way to Reach Out to Young Women 

5. Girl Scouts Report on STEM

6. Twitter feeds...
7. Job Opportunities

8. How to Submit to the AASWomen Newsletter

9. How to Subscribe or Unsubscribe to the AASWomen Newsletter

10. Access to Past Issues of the AASWomen Newsletter

1. Women in Science article - follow up
From: Meg Urry [meg.urry_at_yale.edu]

I've just read all the AASWOMEN postings I missed this past spring
and I can't resist responding to the article by Philip Greenspun
about why women (or presumably, anyone) should not be in science. The
article (linked in a posting from the April 29 issue:
http://philip.greenspun.com/careers/women-in-science) quotes some
numbers that certainly do not reflect reality in the fields physics and

"The average trajectory for a successful scientist is the following:

   age 18-22: paying high tuition fees at an undergraduate college
   age 22-30: graduate school, possibly with a bit of work, living on a
   stipend of $1800 per month 
   age 30-35: working as a post-doc for $30,000 to $35,000 per year
   age 36-43: professor at a good, but not great, university for
   $65,000 per year 
   age 44: with (if lucky) young children at home, fired by the
   university ("denied tenure" is the more polite term for the folks
   that universities discard), begins searching for a job in a market
   where employers primarily wish to hire folks in their early 30s "

In fact, our graduate students make closer to $3000 per month; astronomy
postdocs usually make more than $50k and prize postdocs are up to $65k
per year; assistant professor salaries vary quite a bit depending on the
institution (and the cost of living in whatever location) but they are
often much higher than $65k; and tenure often comes well before age 44.

Mercedes Richards rightly pointed out that this article doesn't
recognize how enjoyable it is to be a scientist. Even more clear is the
fierceness with which professors hang on to their jobs and younger
scientists compete for such jobs. In most universities, you can't
get faculty to retire - they like it too much. If it were such
awful, ill-paid work, they would be eager to leave. I think people want
academic positions because they offer a lot of pluses, like being able
to follow your own interests and, for the most part, to control your
schedule. There are negatives, of course, but somehow we talk more about
the negatives than the positives. 

Probably this article has now been surfed over by Anne-Marie Slaughter's
widely read piece in the Atlantic, as well as the many responses it
provoked. Nothing is simple or final on this topic, that's for sure. But at
least some of us feel that women can find a very satisfying home in
science and in universities. (My quick 2 cents about Ms. Slaughter is
that she has written a very thoughtful article filled with important
insights - but, as a tenured professor at Princeton, not to mention
Dean of the Woodrow Wilson School there, she certainly managed some very
high-powered jobs with little apparent difficulty. So what she really
means is that women might have difficulty doing one of the top 1000 jobs
nationwide, especially if living in a different city than their
families. Given the very rarified nature of her commentary, I hope this
is not taken as some kind of universal advice for women to abandon their
career aspirations.) 

2. Wave-Particle Duality 
From: Ed Bertschinger via womeninastronomy.blogspot.com

What does sexism have to do with wave-particle duality? Not much, unless
you have been reading the book reviews and letters in Physics Today. The
February 2012 issue includes a review by Robert March of Quantum Physics
for Poets by Leon Lederman and Christopher Hill, where we learn that "a
window shopper at Victoria's Secret illustrates the probabilistic
behavior of photons". This allusion seemed quirky but harmless until we
read the fuller explication by Richard Wolfson in the June 2012 issue
followed by a defense from the book's authors, who assert that "we have
not received a single complaint thus far from anyone else that our book
is sexist." 

The book authors' test of reader reactions was incomplete; in quantum
verse, they did not sum over all paths. Wolfson reports that his letter
caused another reader to complain to Lederman and Hlll, and Hill told
her they would change the example in a future version of the book. 

There are a variety of lessons one may draw from this example depending
on one's philosophical stance. One conclusion appears free of any
personal views toward feminism or quantum weirdness: It is possible to
change perceptions.

Is it possible to eliminate the implicit bias that fails to see how
one's cultural metaphors exclude others? Sometimes I think that solving
this problem is much harder than solving the many-body Schrödinger
equation. Astronomers and physicists like intellectual challenges. This
one is worthy of our sustained effort. 

3. From Astrophysics to the Hill
From: Johanna Teske via womeninastronomy.blg

This week's guest blogger is Johanna Teske, who is finishing her fourth
year as an Astronomy graduate student at the University of Arizona,
Steward Observatory. Johanna's science research focuses on observing and
modeling exoplanet atmospheres, studying in particular their
relationship to their host-star atmospheres. She also dabbles in
education research, studying on how science fits into the worldview of
students and how their enculturation of science helps/hinders their
learning and understanding of it. She is excited and honored to be
posting on Women In Astronomy. 

Johanna writes:

Dr. Anna Quider is currently a Congressional Fellow working in a
representative's office on the Hill. She was awarded her Ph.D. in
Astrophysics from the Institute of Astronomy, University of Cambridge
after starting there on a Marshall Scholarship in 2007 and continuing
through last year on a National Science Foundation Graduate Research
Fellowship. I met Anna when she came to the University of Arizona to
speak in an "alternative/non-academic careers" series that we stared
last year for our graduate students and post-docs in Astronomy and
Planetary Science. Her Congressional Science and Engineering Fellowship
is facilitated by the American Association for the Advancement of
Science (AAAS), though funded by the American Physical Society (APS). 

For the full interview, go to http://womeninastronomy.blogspot.com  

4.Science: Best Way to Reach Out to Young Women
From: Johanna Teske via the CSWA Facebook page

[Johanna posted a link to Science Friday with two videos using different
approaches to attract young women into science. The post was followed by
a comment from Nancy Morrison, member of the CSWA. -- eds.]

Make your voice/vote heard!


[Nancy Morrison, CSWA, replied to the post on Facebook]

This reminds me of the discussion in the January, 2012, issue of our
newsletter, STATUS, about the Science Cheerleaders. Similar issues were
raised. But I wonder - girls and women are not all the same. Maybe more
than one approach is needed. Anything that at least makes girls aware
that a career in science is an option for women would be a
plus. http://www.aas.org/cswa/status/STATUS_Jan2012_jan23rdx.pdf 

5.Girl Scouts Report on STEM
From: Kevin Marvel [kevin.marvel_at_aas.org] 

The AAS office received a copy (this week) of a statistical report from
the Girl Scout Research Institute entitled "Generation STEM: What Girls
Say about Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math".  The report has
some interesting results that have obvious implications for those
designing educational programs or outreach to girls of all ages related
to STEM generally.  In addition, the section on implications and
recommendations is a useful read.  Happily, the GSRI has made the report
available online as a PDF.  The link is provided here.


Kevin B. Marvel, Executive Officer, AAS

6. Twitter feeds...
From: Caroline Simpson [simpsonc_at_fiu.edu]

Recent stories from the AAS CSWA twitter feed, managed by Nancy Morrison:

Peer Review Pie - a look at gender proportions in the world of peer
review: http://www.apeer.org/2012/06/29/peer-review-pie/

"Having It All" is Not a Women's Issue

We Need to Tell Girls They Can Have It All (Even If They Can't)

Men Quoted More Often Than Women in News Stories About Women's Issues,
Study Finds: http://www.nationalpartnership.org/site/News2?abbr=daily4_&page=NewsArticle&

Careers: "Finding Your Mid-Career Mojo," part 2: 

Fabiola Gianotti: The woman at the leading edge of #physics

Nice article about Millie Dresselhaus: Carbon Catalyst for Half a
Century http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/03/science/carbon-catalyst-for-half-a-century.html?_r=1&smid=tw-share

Five Women on the 26-Member Team Sharing the Gruber Cosmology Prize

7. Job Opportunities

  * Faculty Positions in Astrophysics, Texas Tech University

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10. Access to Past Issues


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