AAS Committee on the Status of Women
Issue of August 31, 2012
eds. Daryl Haggard, Michele Montgomery, Nick Murphy, & Caroline Simpson

This week's issues:

1. Paid Parental Leave for Graduate Students

2. Walking on Eggshells

3. Responses to the IAU in Beijing

4. January AAS Workshop: How to Be a Better Professor or Teaching Assistant for your LGBT Students

5. Tips for Trans Allies

6. Why Don't Girls And Science Mix?

7. Iranian Universities Restrict Women's Academic Choices

8. Job Opportunities

9. How to Submit to the AASWomen Newsletter

10. How to Subscribe or Unsubscribe to the AASWomen Newsletter

11. Access to Past Issues of the AASWomen Newsletter

1. Paid Parental Leave for Graduate Students
From: David Charbonneau via womeninastronomy.blogspot.com

For my first post to the Women in Astronomy Blog, I would like to describe some
activities that the Committee on the Status of Women in Astronomy is undertaking
with regard to parental leave policies for graduate students.

When I joined the CSWA last year, I jumped at the chance to move this issue
forward. Of course the entire topic of paid parental leave for employees in the
US is enormous and perhaps baffling to our colleagues in any of the 178 other
countries that have national laws guaranteeing some form of paid leave for new
mothers (50 of these also guarantee paid leave for new fathers). While the US
Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 does mandate up to 12 weeks of (potentially
unpaid) leave for workers, many students are not considered employees and hence
it isn't even clear if the FMLA applies. And besides, one might ask, aren't
leave policies at a University the purview of the upper administration (in
discussion with the various funding agencies), and thus the desires of the
relatively small pool of astronomers students a modest consideration?

To read more, please see


2. Walking on Eggshells
From: Bekki Dawson via womeninastronomy.blogspot.com

The battle for gender equity is sometimes waged at picnic tables, during the
sliver of Boston summer weather pleasant enough for someone to bother rounding
up a few of us to eat outside. The table gradually fills as people emerge from
the building with their microwaved Tupperware. One colleague pauses as he
approaches the table. "I hope I'm not interrupting a Women in Science Meeting."

I hadn't noticed until now that all four of us seated at the picnic table are
women. For a moment, no one says anything and I should definitely say something,
but not just anything, and I don't know how to respond, only how not to. My list
of How Not to Respond goes like:

1. For goodness sake, don't "overreact".
2. But whatever you do, don't just pretend like nothing happened! This is
exactly that sort of remark that can subtly cause women to feel like they don't
belong in our field. Go on, champion some gender equity!
3. Also, don't spend the rest of the lunch distractedly dissecting your sandwich
as you try to put yourself in his shoes. You'll find it hard to empathize,
because your own experiences with skewed gender ratios are off by a couple
orders of magnitude: like at the packed physics seminar, when you look around
and see only one other woman in the audience and realize, with a mixture of
unease and glee, that you're Not Supposed to Be Here. "I hope I'm not
interrupting a Men in Science Meeting."

To read more, please see


3. Responses to the IAU in Beijing
From: Anonymous

[This is a comment, submitted anonymously, regarding the IAU Symposium happening
this week and next in Beijing. -Eds.]

What do you think of a poster title, offered and presented by a young female
scientist, that includes somewhat lewd imagery?  I know there are always
outliers at any meeting but it is really distressing to see what some scientists
do (feel they must do?) for attention, their advisors (co-authors) apparently
approve, but to my mind it trivializes their science.  Is this a different
cultural phenomenon (this was a poster by Europeans)?  Are we in the US too

4. January AAS Workshop: How to Be a Better Professor or Teaching Assistant for
your LGBT Students
From: Van Dixon [dixon_at_stsci.edu]

Faculty and teaching assistants: do you feel sufficiently well informed about
the issues facing your students who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender
(LGBT)? If an LGBT student comes to your office hours asking for help, do you
know how to respond? Do you know the warning signs of suicide or how to address
bullying, issues that disproportionately affect LGBT students? How can you
discourage discrimination and cultivate an atmosphere of inclusion in your
classes and in your department? This interactive workshop will help AAS members
educate themselves about their LGBT students, learn what resources are available
at their home institutions, and develop themselves as more effective mentors and
allies to their LGBT students. By so doing, participants will promote diversity
and fairness in their classes and home institutions. The workshop will be
sponsored by the AAS Working Group on LGBTIQ Equality (WGLE). Training will be
conducted by Jami Grosser, Pride Center Coordinator at Cal Poly Pomona and
SafeZone trainer for Caltech.

Event Type: Workshop
Event Topic: 86. Education - Professional Development (Events)
Organizer: William Van Dyke Dixon
Location: Room 202B (Long Beach Convention Center)

5. Tips for Trans Allies
From: Nick Murphy [namurphy_at_cfa.harvard.edu]

The Trans Issues Group at MIT has made available a toolkit for allies of people
who are transgender.  This includes educational brochures, recommended reading,
and other resources:


Particularly helpful are their Tips for Trans Allies, including: "Be patient
with a person who is questioning their gender identity" and "Don't just add the
'T' to LGBT without doing work."


These suggestions will help make our community a safer space for people of all

6. Why Don't Girls And Science Mix?
From: Joan Schmelz [jschmelz_at_memphis.edu]

Shelley Emling wrote:

Girls just don't mix well with science or math. At least that's the message that
continues to emerge from studies on the under-representation of women in these

High school girls still make up only 17 percent of computer science Advanced
Placement (AP) test takers. And women still make up only 27 percent of those
earning math PhDs. The same percentage - 27 percent - of people with careers in
science, technology, mathematics, and engineering (STEM) fields are women. Just
30 percent of STEM college professors are women.

To read more, please see:


7. Iranian Universities Restrict Women's Academic Choices
From: AWIS Newsletter, August 2012

Zakiyyah Wahab wrote:

Thirty-six universities in Iran have banned women from 77 fields of study.  The
ban, which was first reported Aug. 6 by Iran's semiofficial Mehr News Agency,
came as the results of university entrance exams for the coming academic year
were being announced.

To read more, please see:


8. Job Opportunities

* Assistant Professor of Astronomy, Gettysburg College, Gettysburg, PA


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11. Access to Past Issues of the AASWomen Newsletter


Each annual summary includes an index of topics covered.