AAS Committee on the Status of Women
Issue of June 14, 2013
eds. Caroline Simpson, Michele M. Montgomery, Daryl Haggard, & Nick Murphy
guest ed. Elysse Voyer

This week's issues:

1. CSWA seeks your help

2. Men, Women and Self-Promotion in Astronomy

3. Unconscious Bias: A Personal Story

4. Challenging the Status Quo in Utah

5. The Versatile PhD

6. Answering Harvard's question about my personal life, 52 years later

7. 50th anniversary of the Equal Pay Act

8. 1970s Laws Are Today's Ammo for Women's Rights

9. Compliments, sexism and careers in science

10. Geena Davis' Drive to Inspire Girls to Work in Science

11. Major Milestone: 50 Years of Women in Space

12. Curtin University Research Fellowship opportunities

13. How to Submit to the AASWomen Newsletter

14. How to Subscribe or Unsubscribe to the AASWomen Newsletter

15. Access to Past Issues of the AASWomen Newsletter

1. CSWA seeks your help
From: Ed Bertschinger via womeninastronomy.blogspot.com

The CSWA wants your input!  In our telecon today, we discussed ideas for future
special sessions at the AAS meeting, ideas for this blog, and ways to better
coordinate with committees performing similar service (CSMA and WGLE in
astronomy, CSWP and COM in Physics).  In the end, we realized that community
input would be our best guide.

To read more, please see:


2. Men, Women and Self-Promotion in Astronomy  
From: Laura Trouille via womeninastronomy.blogspot.com  

We're running the fifth .Astronomy conference later this year in Boston.
.Astronomy is a small (and awesome) conference for astronomers, where you must
apply to participate. Although the tone is relaxed, spaces at the event are in
short supply (there are only 50 places). You don't have to talk at .Astronomy,
and there are only a few speaking slots, but it's a pretty friendly crowd and
you can talk about a wide variety of things. So why did only 2 women submit an
abstract (out of 27 female applicants) versus 30 men (out of 65)?

To read more, please see:


3.  Unconscious Bias: A Personal Story
From: Joan Schmelz via womeninastronomy.blogspot.com

I have given a seminar on Unconscious Bias a few times recently. Some of you
have heard it! During the introduction, I try to convey the idea to the audience
that we all have biases, and we are (for the most part) unaware of them.
Unconscious bias can have a detrimental effect on job/fellowship applications,
proposal/performance reviews, award nominations, and promotions – in short, it
comes into play any time we are evaluated. In general, men and women BOTH
unconsciously devalue the contributions of women, so it is important to
understand that unconscious bias is not discrimination and it is not prejudice.
In order to emphasize that this is not a talk about male chauvinist pigs versus
feminazis, I tell the story about the discovery of my own unconscious bias.

To read more, please see: 


4. Challenging the Status Quo in Utah
From: Neil Gehrels via womeninastronomy.blogspot.com

I read an interesting article in the on-line Daily Herald about efforts to
attract more women to science and technical fields at Utah Valley University
(UVU) in Orem, Utah. The study contains a number of specific and reasonable
suggestions for how to improve the current situation.

The article is written by Barbara Christiansen about a study by UVU professors
Cheryl Hanewicz and Susan Thackeray. The study was done to address the problem
of women scoring lower than men on math and science standards tests when
entering UVU. Here are the numbers: 37% vs 43% women vs men meeting the
standards for math and 25% vs 33% for science. One of the motivations for the
study was that the Utah legislature has recently approved $10M to enhance STEM
(science, technology, engineering and math) education and career opportunities
in the state and the desire is apply these funds equitably.

To read more, please see:


5. The Versatile PhD 
From: Paula Chambers [Founder and CEO of VPhD] via Elysse Voyer [elysse.voyer_at_oamp.fr]

Are you considering a career transition out of academia? No matter what stage
you are currently at (student, postdoc, professor) 'The Versatile PhD' is a
great on-line resource offering guidance in a mixture of forms (supportive
ongoing discussions, panel discussions, job postings, etc.) on career
transitions into the job market outside of academia for STEM and humanities
folks. This cohesive, organic, *confidential* community includes many PhDs who
have already left the academy and want to help others make the transition.
Anyone may join the free community and participate in the discussion forums. If
you are at a subscribing institution (see list on home page), you also have
access to the Premium Content, which includes extra-detailed career information
such as authentic resumes and cover letters that led to successful PhD hires.  

To learn more, please see:


6. Answering Harvard's question about my personal life, 52 years later
From: Meg Urry [meg.urry_at_yale.edu]

My husband pointed out an extremely interesting article to me by the former
restaurant critic of the Washington Post, Phyllis Richman. It is a vignette from
the 'bad old days' that is beautifully written, and at the same time I found the
modern-day response (at the bottom of the article) from William A. Doebele Jr.,
Frank Backus Williams Professor of Urban Planning and Design and Emeritus at
Harvard (active from 1960 to 1997), strangely chilling. There was nary a word of
apology about the past, nor expression of appreciation for the positive change
since 1961.

To read this article, please see:


7. 50th anniversary of the Equal Pay Act
From: AWIS [Association for Women in Science] via Daryl Haggard [dhaggard_at_northwestern.edu>]

In last summer's membership survey 87% of AWIS members said that equal pay for
equal work was very important. Consequently, they have increased their focus and
engagement in DC on that topic.

This week is the 50th anniversary of the Equal Pay Act, the first law designed
to prevent gender discrimination. While the gender based wage gap has closed
somewhat in that time, women still earn 77 cents for every dollar made by a man
doing the same job. Women in STEM make 86 cents for every dollar earned by a

To highlight this lingering injustice, the AWIS is launching a social media
campaign to raise awareness. They invite you to share via Facebook and Twitter
the images that will be posted each day on the AWIS blog and Facebook pages.
They also encourage you to write or call your members of Congress to ask them to
support the Paycheck Fairness Act.

Please see the AWIS blog here:


Please visit the AWIS Facebook page here:


Please see the AWIS PDF on 'Advocacy 101 for Women in Science' here: 


8. 1970s Laws Are Today's Ammo for Women's Rights
From: Nancy Morrison [NMorris_at_utnet.utoledo.edu]

Originally posted on Women's eNews during Women's History Month (March) of 2012,
here is a nice summary of legislation that is still effective today.


"[Ruth Bader] Ginsburg, hired as the first tenured woman law professor at
Columbia Law School in 1972, simultaneously guided the American Civil Liberties
Union Women's Rights Project, which she co-founded. In the 1970s she argued six
pioneering sex discrimination cases before the then all-male U.S. Supreme Court,
winning five.

"By 1980--the same year that Ginsburg was named a federal judge by President
Jimmy Carter--the legal landscape for women's rights and opportunities had
changed for the better.

"U.S. courts were charged with scrutinizing at a heightened level whether laws
that relied upon sex classifications or sex stereotyping violated the
constitution; women used Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act to crack open
jobs that were previously barred. New laws were passed, too: Title IX (of the
Education Act) in 1972 required equal opportunity in educational settings, and
the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 blocked discrimination, refusal to
hire, dismissal or other negative employment sanctions based on pregnancy.

"All these laws are still seeing active court duty.

"The government, for instance, recently developed new Title IX guidelines to
press colleges to establish tougher standards on campus sex assault and in
November, three female workers at a North Carolina seafood factory received back
pay in a settlement under Title VII and other laws of their claims that they
were illegally restricted by gender to lower-paying jobs."

To read more, please see:


9. Compliments, sexism and careers in science
From: Rick Fienberg [rick.fienberg_at_aas.org]

By Suzie Sheehy

"Imagine this situation: you've been invited to a school to talk about science.
By chance, you and your helper are both female. You give your presentation,
doing your best to portray the wonder and challenge of life as a scientist, and
when you're finished the teacher invites the assembled students to thank 'these
lovely ladies'.
"What's the problem with that?

"It seems like innocent flattery, and it doesn't seem sexist — the teacher could
just as easily have referred to a man as a 'lovely gentleman'. It's just a
compliment, right?

"For comparison, let's take another example from a recent conference. A male
delegate I didn't know came up to me and put his hand on my shoulder while I was
at a computer. He then leaned in far too close and made a joke about not
stealing his papers (which were next to me), which he followed up by saying
something incomprehensible about me involving the words 'incredibly attractive

"In both situations the comments were well intentioned, but the second example
is pretty clearly inappropriate. It's easy enough to identify and call someone
out for that kind of behavior. Yet I still didn't know what to say. After all,
hadn't he just paid me a compliment? By the time the polite but firm phrase,
'Excuse me, I think you're being quite inappropriate' had fully formed in my
head, he'd already left. So he got
away with it."

To read more, please see:


10. Geena Davis' Drive to Inspire Girls to Work in Science
From: Elysse Voyer [elysse.voyer_at_oamp.fr]

By Jammal Simmons

"In the movie 'Long Kiss Goodnight,' Geena Davis inspired a generation of urban
youth to respect the femme fatale butt-kicking assassin Charly Baltimore, while
her roles in 'Thelma and Louise' and 'A League of Their Own' captured the
loyalty of a generation of middle American women. Now she is trying to inspire
another generation of girls and women to pursue non-traditional careers by
changing the way women are portrayed on television and in movies. Fifty years
after President John F. Kennedy signed the Equal Pay Act, America still hasn't
closed the pay gap, but as women become an increasingly more important part of
household wage earners, we need advocates like Geena Davis to succeed."

To read more, please see:


11. Major Milestone: 50 Years of Women in Space
From: Rick Fienberg [rick.fienberg_at_aas.org]
By Miriam Kramer

The history of women in space is about to turn 50 years old.

Sunday (June 16) marks the 50th anniversary of Soviet cosmonaut Valentina
Tereshkova's landmark 1963 flight, which launched her into history as the first
woman to fly to space - only two years after Yuri Gagarin performed the first
spaceflight ever in 1961. Tereshkova circled the Earth 48 times during her time
as the pilot onboard the Vostok 6 spacecraft.

To read more, please see


12. Curtin University Research Fellowship opportunities
From: Steven Tingay [s.tingay_at_curtin.edu.au] via Laura Trouille [l-trouille_at_northwestern.edu]

The Curtin Research Fellowship scheme aims to attract high quality post doctoral
researchers with excellent potential for providing future academic and research
leadership at the University. It is highly competitive and continues to be
amongst the most prestigious fellowship schemes in Australia.

Applications are encouraged in the field of astronomy and astrophysics research,
to take up positions in the Curtin Institute of Radio Astronomy (CIRA). CIRA is
a research group comprised of over 50 staff and PhD students, focused primarily
on radio astronomy but spanning all observational astronomy, radio astronomy
engineering, applications of high performance computing in astronomy, and
astrophysics theory (including simulation). CIRA comprises one half of the
International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research (ICRAR) Joint Venture with The
University of Western Australia and is a node of the ARC Centre of Excellence
for All-sky Astrophysics (CAASTRO).

A clear focus for CIRA research programs is the path to the Square Kilometre
Array (SKA), including the scientific exploitation of SKA pathfinders and
precursors, such as the CIRA-led $50m Murchison Widefield Array (MWA), and a
leading role in SKA pre-construction activities over the next three years. In
particular, the MWA is about to enter its full science operations phase and many
opportunities exist for participation in this program. CIRA researchers have
excellent access to the new $80m Pawsey supercomputing Centre.

The call for applications in 2013, for commencement in 2014, refers to a
targeted research-only fellowship with two streams:

1. Early Career Researcher Fellowship: Suitably qualified applicants who have
been awarded a PhD on or after 1 March 2008.
2. Senior Research Fellowship: Suitably qualified applicants with more than five
years post-doctoral experience.

Applications Open: Friday 7th June 2013
Applications Close: Monday 5th August 2013 at 5:00pm GMT+8:00

Potential applicants should contact CIRA co-Director Prof. Steven Tingay
(s.tingay_at_curtin.edu.au) for more information and guidance on the application
process.  The following URL provides links to the application forms, call for
applications, and scheme guidelines:


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15. Access to Past Issues


Each annual summary includes an index of topics covered.