AAS Committee on the Status of Women
Issue of January 18, 2013
eds. Caroline Simpson, Michele Montgomery, Daryl Haggard, & Nick Murphy

This week's issues:

1. Follow-up: Are STEM Programs Working??

2. Women in Astronomy Blog: Recent posts

3. So Many Exoplanets... So Few Women Scientists

4. Presentations from CSWA Special Session on Parental Leave Policies Available

5. Top Picks for Riveting Reads on Women and Science

6. Dartbeat: Another Response to the "Science: It's a Girl Thing" video

7.  APS Speakers List Featuring Women and Minorities

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. Follow-up: Are STEM Programs Working?

[Here are some responses to last week's item about the Women in
Astronomy blog post asking whether STEM programs to increase the number
of women STEM majors are working -- Eds.]

From: Sethanne Howard [sethanneh@msn.com]
In response to the post 'are stem programs working', I would like to say
I have participated in programs that work well and those that do
not. The ones that work tend to have the parents involved with the
students. The students are middle school age, and the program is an
immersion program, not just a lecture or two; and the ones that work
well tend to have real scientists involved with the teachers.

Also programs that target K-8 teachers are more successful. Most
teachers are still teaching outmoded ideas about science. When real
scientists go into school systems and talk to teachers it is a good
thing.  Also, of course, some kind of vetting program that chooses
scientists who are good communicators is necessary. Los Alamos, for
example, does that for its outreach. The AAS Shapley program used to
vet its lecturers.

From: Caroline Simpson [simpsonc_fiu.edu]
In general, a single visit to a classroom doesn't have much impact (as
Sethanne points out). I asked a colleague of mine (Dr. Eric Brewe) who
works in physics education research here at FIU for some resources, and
he pointed me to this paper with some recommendations about roles for
scientists in education: http://istp.gsfc.nasa.gov/istp/BMRoles.pdf.  He
also mentioned that we know more about what doesn't work than what
does. He then contacted Dr. Jacob Clark Blickenstaff, who is the Teacher
Education Programs Manager for the American Physical Society. He had
this to say: "It certainly is a challenge to find research that
establishes efficacy at recruiting women into STEM, as the study would
have to be longitudinal, and there are many confounding variables.  We
know that the Conferences for Undergraduate Women in Physics (CUWiP) are
popular and become more popular every year, but we don't have compelling
evidence that they are changing students' plans for the future.  Nearly
1000 undergraduate women physics majors will attend the 6 CUWiP sites
this year, and that is a substantial fraction of all the women majoring
in physics nationally. (More information is available at:

There is research supporting pedagogy that supports women to do well in
introductory STEM classes, but, again, I don't know that doing well in
the class necessarily translates into more STEM majors.  That might only
move students from one STEM field to another, which isn't really solving
the problem.

Dale Baker and Rosemary Leary's work in the Journal of Research in
Science Teaching (Letting girls speak out about science, 1995) provides
some insight into why middle school girls become disinterested in STEM,
so that is another angle to look at.

2. Women in Astronomy Blog: Recent posts
From: Caroline Simpson [simpsonc_at_fiu.edu]

Recent posts on the Women in Astronomy blog
(womeninastronomy.blogspot.com) include:

-- First the Facts: by Guest Blogger Annika Peter
I am a dark-matter and gravitational-dynamics junkie, currently
finishing up a postdoctoral position at UC Irvine, and moving to a
faculty position in the Departments of Physics and Astronomy at The
Ohio State University. My husband is also an astrophysicist, currently
a professor of astrophysics at Caltech. He is taking a professorship
at OSU, too, so we have successfully found an excellent solution to
our two-body problem! My two favorite aspects of my job are thinking
deeply about and trying to solve some of the major mysteries of the
universe, and working with undergraduate and graduate students. I am
also a practical problem solver, which means I spend some time
scheming about how to improve the scientific enterprise and university
education. [...]

[for more, see http://www.womeninastronomy.blogspot.com/2013/01/first-facts.html]

--  Where are the women professors? Unconscious gender biases: Guest
Post by John Johnson, professor of Astronomy in the Caltech Department
of Astrophysics. His research is on the detection and characterization
of exoplanets. This post is a re-post from his blog:
I started out this series with a simple axiom: men and women are
equally capable of succeeding as professional astronomers. I then made
the observation that women are underrepresented in faculty positions
compared to the percentage of women graduating with PhDs. What could
cause such a deficit? One possibility is unconscious bias in the minds
of those hiring professors. Let's check out the evidence. [...]

[for more, see http://www.womeninastronomy.blogspot.com/2013/01/where-are-

-- The Canary Islands, Observing Runs, and Children, by David Charbonneau
Greetings from La Palma in the Canary Islands, where I am observing at
the Italian Telescopio Nazionale Galileo with the new HARPS-N
spectrograph, hunting for exoplanets.

Ahhh, how my view of observing runs has changed in the past 8 years!

My reaction to the news that a proposal for telescope time has been
accepted has changed dramatically since my wife and I had children.
My first thought used to be "What is my observing plan?"  Now, it is
"What is my childcare plan?" [...]

[for more, see http://www.womeninastronomy.blogspot.com/2013/01/the-
Note that he cites a longitudinal study that shows that "the decision
to form a family accounts for the largest leaks in the pipeline
between the receipt of the PhD and the acquisition of tenure for women
in the sciences."]

3. So Many Exoplanets... So Few Women Scientists
From: Caroline Simpson [simpsonc_at_fiu.edu

Sara Seager, Professor of Planetary Science and Physics at MIT, writes
about the impact of issues like travel on research progress. (Also see
Dave Charbonneau's post on the womeninastronomy blog, above).


4. Presentations from CSWA Special Session on Parental Leave Policies Available
From: Nancy Morrison and Dave Charbonneau [NMorris@utnet.utoledo.edu,

At the 221st AAS meeting at Long Beach, CA, CSWA sponsored a special
session entitled, "Family Leave Policies and Childcare for Graduate
Students and Postdocs." The principal organizers were CSWA members
Dave Charbonneau and Laura Trouille.

Slides from the presentations by Dave Charbonneau, Natalie Gosnell,
Bob Mathieu, Edward Ajhar, and Charles Beichman are now posted in PDF:

Charbonneau's presentation included the first report of preliminary
results from the CSWA's national survey of department chairs on this
topic. Gosnell and Mathieu reported on implementation of a
forward-looking policy at UW-Madison. Ajhar reported on the NSF's
work-life balance initiative, and Beichman described NASA's fellowship
programs and their parental leave policies. Laura Trouille briefly
presented preliminary results from the postdoc family leave survey.
These results are also posted at the website listed above.

If you couldn't attend the session, take a look at the slides for a
snapshot of the current state of this issue, which is critical for
twenty-first-century careers in astronomy.

5. Top Picks for Riveting Reads on Women and Science
From: Under the Microscope Blog [http://www.underthemicroscope.com]

Their top picks for riveting reads on women and science, and upcoming events.

On the docket: encouraging girls to not play it safe, inspiring the
next generation of female technologists, Yale "bias detective"
selected for Nature's top ten in 2012, and more. [...]

[see http://www.underthemicroscope.com/blog/the-lens-weeks-of-january-10-2013
for the full post]

6. Dartbeat: Another Response to the "Science: It's a Girl Thing" video
From: Caroline Simpson [simpsonc_at_fiu.edu]

Dartmouth doctoral students made a video response to a controversial
European Commission campaign created to excite girls and young women
about careers in the so-called "STEM" fields of science, technology,
engineering and mathematics.


7. APS Speakers List Featuring Women and Minorities
From: WIPHYS, Jan. 16, 2013

Planning a colloquium series and want to include a minority or female
speaker? Check out the APS Speakers List! The list contain names,
contact information, and talk titles of physicists who are willing to
give talks on a variety of subjects. Check it out at
And don't forget that travel grants are available for institutions
inviting women and minority speakers. Find more information about the
grants at

8. How to Submit to the AASWOMEN newsletter

To submit an item to the AASWOMEN newsletter, including replies to
topics, send email to aaswomen_at_aas.org

All material will be posted unless you tell us otherwise, including your
email address.

When submitting a job posting for inclusion in the newsletter, please
include a one-line description and a link to the full job posting.

Please remember to replace "_at_" in the e-mail address above.

9. How to Subscribe or Unsubscribe to the AASWOMEN newsletter

Join AAS Women List by email:

Send email to aaswlist+subscribe_at_aas.org
from the address you want to have subscribed. You can leave the subject
and message blank if you like.

Be sure to follow the instructions in the confirmation email. (Just
reply back to the email list)

To unsubscribe by email:

Send email to aawlist+unsubscribe_at_aas.org
from the address you want to have UNsubscribed. You can leave the subject
and message blank if you like.

To join or leave AASWomen via web, or change your membership settings:


You will have to create a Google Account if you do not already
have one, using

Google Groups Subscribe Help:


10. Access to Past Issues