AAS Committee on the Status of Women
Issue of May 31, 2013
eds. Caroline Simpson, Michele M. Montgomery, Daryl Haggard, & Nick Murphy

This week's issues:

1.  Call to Action - U.S. Astronomy Olympiad

2.  Is Your Career Making an Impact?

3.  Making a Difference

4.  Why Women Leave Academia

5.  Dysfunction in the Boardroom

6.  Sexism: Women in Science

7.  Girl Computers

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. Call to Action - U.S. Astronomy Olympiad
From: L. Trouille via womeninastronomy.blogspot.com

One of my online astronomy students (an amazing high-schooler!) was looking for
a way to continue pursuing her passion for astronomy after the end of our
course. She came across this amazing opportunity, only to have her hopes dashed
when she learned that the U.S. doesn't hold Astronomy Olympiads. yet!

Do you think the American Astronomical Society should be helping to inspire the
next generation by supporting this opportunity? 

To read more, please see


2. Is Your Career Making an Impact?
From: J. Kamenetzky, Guest Blogger at womeninastronomy.blogspot.com

We've probably all thought about the level of income, independence, and
flexibility that we desire out of a career; some people choose to prioritize one
thing over another.  An additional aspect is the degree to which one feels their
career is making a positive impact on the world.  In that realm, the physical
sciences suffer from a bit of an image problem. This problem is especially
applicable to the Women in Astronomy Blog because girls and women are more likely to
prioritize a career that benefits society [1, 2, and others in 3], and basic
research is often not seen as fitting that goal. (Remember, this doesn't mean
that all women do and all men don't, just that by ignoring societal impacts
we're missing a large group of talented people, and many of them are women.)

That idea led me to study the ways that various scientific fields fulfill the
National Science Foundation's Broader Impacts Criterion [4].  I completed the
first iteration of this study as part of an excellent graduate course in science

To read more, please see


3. Making a Difference
From: Hannah via womeninastronomy.blogspot.com

I've recently become involved with an effort on my campus to establish a Women's
Advancement and Research Center. Its purpose is to promote women on campus at
all levels of leadership, with a special emphasis on women in STEM disciplines.

Now, one of the things new faculty are warned about is over-commitment,
particularly on service committees. Especially since as women we are often asked
to be the "diversity representative" on many committee. And yet, many of the
people I've met who are also working on this project are fellow women junior
faculty. It would be nice to get more senior faculty, but in some departments
there just aren't any tenured women faculty. It would be nice to get more men,
too, but it seems to be hard to get many of them to join the effort.
On the other hand, we women assistant professors are pretty passionate about
increasing the representation of women in our respective departments.

To read more, please see


4. Why Women Leave Academia (and Why Universities Should be Worried)
From: Michele M. Montgomery [montgomery_at_physics.ucf.edu]

This article highlights a recent report that finds only 12% of third year female
Ph.D students want a career in academia. Women leave academia for three reasons:
1) The characteristics of academic careers are unappealing,
2) The impediments women encounter are disproportionate, and
3) The sacrifices are great.

Where will these women go then? When starting their studies, 71% of women intend
to become researchers in industry or academia. Only 61% of men express the same

To read more on these findings, please see...


5. Dysfunction in the Boardroom
From: Kevin B. Marvel [kevin.marvel_at_aas.org]

In the June 2013 issue of the Harvard Business Review is an article entitled
"Dysfunction in the Boardroom", which discusses results from annual surveys of
members of corporate boards.   Three themes resulted from the data: a) Women
nend to be more qualified to be considered for boards; b) boards don't know how
to leverage diversity; and c) great talent is not enough to create a great
board, they need processes and cultures that encourage inclusiveness
and diversity. The article is a short, but informative read and I found it
valuable to peruse a few times.

[To read the article, please follow the link -- eds.]


6. Sexism: Women in Science
From: Michele M. Montgomery [montgomery_at_physics.ucf.edu]

National Geographic lists six women scientists who were snubbed due to sexism.
On the list are

- Jocelyn Bell, discoverer of pulsars
- Lise Meitner, discoverer of how atoms split via nuclear fission
- Esther Lederberg, discoverer of a virus that infects bacteria
- Rosalind Franklin, first to use x-rays to image DNA
- Nettie Stevens, discoverer of how X and Y chromosomes determine the sex of offspring
- Chien-Shiung Wu, first to disprove the quantum mechanical law of parity

As noted in the article, many women scientists' contributions have been
overlooked over the years and have been written out of textbooks.

National Geographic has a call at the end of this article for you, the reader,
to add to this list of female researchers who did not get credit they deserve.
To read the article and to add your contribution, please see


7. Girl Computers
From:  Nancy Morrison [nmorris_at_utnet.utoledo.edu]

Pursuant to Gerrit Verschuur's book review in our newsletter, STATUS
(January 2013), about the contributions of women to the war effort during World
War II, here is an in-depth article by Mark Wolverton from American
Heritage about the contributions of women who did hand computations of
ballistic projectile trajectories and who later were the first programmers of
the ENIAC.

' ... Both the bombardier and the artillery sergeant depended on the accuracy of
the figures they fed into their weapon systems. If the sergeants had known where
those numbers had originated, they probably would have been astonished. The data
were the work of a group of remarkable women with a flair for mathematics who
were employed by the Army: the Philadelphia Computing Section (PCS) at the
University of Pennsylvania. Known as "computers" in an age when that term
referred not to machines but to human beings, some of the women went on to help
create the first electronic computer, ENIAC. Like the legendary Rosie the
Riveters, who toiled in factories and war plants, they were also vital to the
war effort, but these computing Rosies worked in secrecy and anonymity, their
contributions still largely unknown and unrecognized today.'

To read more:


8. Job Opportunities

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


- Post-Doctoral or PhD in Stellar Astrophysics - Quantitative Spectral Analysis
of High-Resolution UV Spectra at Dr. Remeis-Sternwarte Bamberg, Germany
Send application to Prof. Dr. Ulrich Heber:

9.  How to Submit to the AASWOMEN newsletter

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11. Access to Past Issues


Each annual summary includes an index of topics covered.