AAS Committee on the Status of Women in Astronomy
Issue of February 15, 2013
eds. Caroline Simpson, Michele Montgomery, Daryl Haggard, & Nick Murphy

This week's issues:

1. Accepting where we are and looking forward as best we can

2. Reaching Parity: Lessons from the NSF AAPF

3. While you're fixing broken family leave policies, cover queer families.

4. Under the Microscope: Notable Black Female Scientists and Innovators

5. Astrophysicist Dame Jocelyn Bell-Burnell featured on BBC's Woman's Hour

6. How to create an undergraduate physics program in which women can excel

7. Meeting Announcement: Studying Galaxy Evolution - a Galaxy Zoo conference

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. Accepting where we are and looking forward as best we can
From: Deanna Ratnikova via womeninastronomy.blogspot.com

[Guest blogger Deanna Ratnikova talks about career paths and job
satisfaction -- eds.]

I've recently interacted with many people - both young and old - who feel
disappointed (or even angry) with their career path trajectory.
Whether it's the economic climate, the environment for female
scientists or workplace politics to blame, the common thread is that
everyone had high expectations for themselves, worked hard to reach
those expectations but still fell short.

Not too long ago, I was also discouraged with my career path
trajectory. During grad school I made a plan for how I'd get to my
"dream job", but then reality set in and I had to take the
opportunities which eventually led me to my current position. I
struggled with self-acceptance and being happy with my career progress
because it didn't conform to what I had envisioned.

Eventually, however, I came to an agreement that maybe this is where
I'm supposed to be. I realized that it was possible I wouldn't even
like my "dream job" if I did achieve it (this is what happened to one
of my grad school buddies who I envied for a couple of years before
finding out how unhappy he was in his "dream job").


2. Reaching Parity: Lessons from the NSF AAPF
From: Eilak Glikman via womeninastronomy.blogspot.com

[Eilak Glikman, an NSF Astronomy and Astrophysics Postdoctoral Fellow,
discusses the high proportion of women in the program, and identifies
possible reasons in how the program in structured -- eds.]

I returned from a long and stimulating American Astronomical Society
(AAS) meeting which began for me the weekend prior with the annual NSF
Astronomy and Astrophysics Postdoctoral Fellows (AAPF) Symposium.
Those who have attended the AAPF Symposium over the years will tell
you: it is usually the highlight of the entire AAS meeting.


The high proportion of female participants at the conference was noted
by one of the panelists participating in the panel discussion, Project
Leadership in the Age of Large Collaborations, who noted that large
collaborations such as LSST have difficulty filling leadership
positions with women scientists. This got me thinking, what is it
about the AAPF that has led to such high female participation? What
are we doing right that other fellowships(1), institutions, etc. could
emulate? I have identified three major actions that make the AAPF
successful and that can be adapted and emulated to change the nature
of our field:

Read the entire post at

3. While you're fixing broken family leave policies, cover queer families.
From: J. Rigby via womeninastronomy.blogspot.com

[J. Rigby guest blogs about family leave policies: what issues to look
for, which questions to ask, and whom to contact if you are interested
in supporting changes -- eds.]

The 2013 winter AAS meeting in Long Beach featured a special session
about family leave policies for grad students and postdocs at every
one of the 28 US institutions that grant PhDs in Astronomy.  Dave
Charbonneau and Laura Trouille of CSWA have surveyed the current state
of our field.

I hope the survey results motivate our community to improve our leave
policies.  If I want full participation of women in science, we've got
to drop these antiquated policies that assume that scientists don't
ever have to take leave to adopt, birth, or otherwise care for a
child. As an egregious example, at four US institutions that grant
astronomy PhDs, graduate students lose their health insurance if they
go on parental leave.

Let me speak to those brave academics who are motivated to take the
hood off their institution's broken family leave policies, pull out
the stripped gears, and suggest fairer replacements.  Good going,
brave repairmen and women!   Now that you've got the the policy
disassembld ...  Could you add protections for queer families?  It's the
same theme of furthering diversity and fairness in a historically
hostile environment.  It requires you to educate yourselves, engage
queer allies, and stand up not only for your own interests, but for
fairness and the interests of other minority groups, toward the
greater goal of diversity and equality.



4. Under the Microscope: Notable Black Female Scientists and Innovators
From: Caroline Simpson [simpsonc_at_fiu.edu]

A compilation of notable African-American female scientists and
innovators. The women featured are first in their fields or have made
a significant scientific discovery from which the general public has


5. Astrophysicist Dame Jocelyn Bell-Burnell featured on BBC's Woman's Hour
From: Caroline Simpson [simpsonc_at_fiu.edu]

An interview with Dame Jocelyn Bell-Burnell.

Jocelyn Bell Burnell is credited with one of the most significant
scientific discoveries of the twentieth century whilst completing her
postgraduate studies: that of the first radio pulsars. Although,
controversially, she was not named as a co-recipient of the 1974 Nobel
Prize for Physics, awarded for the pulsar research, she has received
numerous honours and fellowships.

"...for me being a role model was ...important, just to show there are
women doing science, enjoying it and being good at it."


6. How to create an undergraduate physics program in which women can excel
From: WIPHYS, February 13, 2013

[Janice Hudgings, Physics Department Chair and Associate Dean of
Faculty, Mount Holyoke College discusses methods for building an
inclusive physics program.]

We have all heard the grim statistics: Despite rising number of
bachelor's degrees being awarded nationwide, the number of physics
bachelor's degrees awarded in the US is relatively stagnant.
Furthermore, the fraction of those physics bachelor's degrees awarded
to women remains around 22% nationwide, with the pipeline leaking
female talent most heavily at the undergraduate level.

So, given that landscape, how do you create a thriving undergraduate
physics program in which young women cannot just succeed, but excel?
The physics program at Mount Holyoke College graduates physics majors
- all of them women - at a rate that is 3-4 times the national average
for small colleges.  Furthermore, these women are outstanding young
physicists, routinely winning major national and international
fellowships and continuing on to the top physics graduate programs in
the country.  What is the secret to this success?  The answer in part
is to create an outstanding undergraduate physics program, period, but
that by itself is not sufficient for women students to thrive (see the
references below).


7. Meeting Announcement - Studying Galaxy Evolution - a Galaxy Zoo conference
From: Ivy Wong [Ivy.Wong_at_csiro.au]

This is the first announcement for the meeting, "Studying Galaxy
Evolution - a Galaxy Zoo conference".   Registration will be opening
shortly on February 25th.

Where?    Powerhouse Museum, Sydney AUSTRALIA
When?     22 - 26 September, 2013

How do galaxies form and evolve? What shapes galaxies? What are the
roles of supermassive black holes and bars in galaxy evolution? Nature
and nurture both play important roles in galaxy evolution and the aims
of this meeting are to: (i) further develop our understanding of the
many underlying physical processes that are responsible for shaping
the galaxies that we observe in the Universe around us; and (ii)
showcase the high impact scientific contributions by Galaxy Zoo to the
study of galaxy evolution. To catch the galaxies in the act of
transformation, huge samples of galaxies are needed before we can
identify one that is in the stage of transformation, especially if
these transformation processes occur relatively quickly. A direct
consequence of very large surveys is the emergence of "big data"
science which severely challenges traditional data processing
techniques. Hence, there exists a great need to develop a variety of
techniques to fully maximise the scientific return.

Whether you're already working with Galaxy Zoo data, curious about how
it might inform your science, or if you just want to spend a few days
thinking about galaxy evolution, we hope you'll join us. With more
large surveys coming from next generation facilities such as LSST and
ASKAP, this meeting will also act as a springboard for Galaxy Zoo-like
projects using very large datasets.

More details about this event can be found from this website:

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Best regards,
Ivy Wong (on behalf of the organising committees)

8. Job Opportunities

For those interested in increasing excellence and diversity in their
organizations, a list of resources and advice is here:


  * Tenure-track position in Physics at Everett Community College in
Everett, WA

  * A Variety of Jobs are available from AURA (includes NOAO, NSO,

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11. Access to Past Issues


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