AAS Committee on the Status of Women
Issue of August 16, 2013
eds. Michele M. Montgomery, Daryl Haggard, Nick Murphy, & Nicolle Zellner
guest ed. Elysse Voyer

This week's issues:

1. The Importance of Mentoring for Fostering Diversity

2. ADVICE: Negotiating for a Tenure-Track Position II

3. Conference invited speaker statistics updated

4. Why Aren't More Girls Attracted To Physics?

5. Chicken and Egg

6. Reverse discrimination?

7. New book published showcases over 30 women physicists

8. Review: Rocket Girl

9. Singles Need Work-Life Balance Too

10. A Star Philosopher Falls, and a Debate Over Sexism Is Set Off

11. Membership in the Science and Technology Definition Teams for Reduced Scale X-ray Mission Concepts

12. APS Conferences for Undergraduate Women in Physics

13. Job Opportunities

14. How to Submit to the AASWomen Newsletter

15. How to Subscribe or Unsubscribe to the AASWomen Newsletter

16. Access to Past Issues of the AASWomen Newsletter

1. The Importance of Mentoring for Fostering Diversity
From: John Asher Johnson via womeninastronomy.blogspot.com

When traveling to a completely new city, or especially to a different country,
knowing how to do basic things like getting around via public transit and
knowing where to eat can become difficult tasks. However, with the right person
by your side, the difficulty in handling these activities melts away and the
adventure becomes much more enjoyable. In this case the "right person" is
someone who lives in the particular place, or has been there before. It takes
very little effort for a French person to help the uninitiated travel around
Paris and find a good place to have lunch and a latte. However, this small
effort has a big effect on the newbie.

Similar arrangements can be set up along the well-trodden road of academe.

To read more, please see:


2. ADVICE: Negotiating for a Tenure-Track Position II
From: Joan Schmelz via womeninastronomy.blogspot.com

[CSWA got great advice on negotiating for a tenure-track position from
Mordecai-Mark Mac Low. Mordecai is a tenured research curator in the Dept. of
Astrophysics of the American Museum of Natural History in his home town of New
York City, a position he got only after working in every time zone of the
continental US, and in Germany. He studies the formation of planets, stars, and
galaxies, mostly using numerical simulations.]

I just assisted my partner in her negotiations on beginning a tenure-track
position in another technical field, so let me see if I can recap some of the
thoughts I shared with her.

Don't take it personally when sudden delays appear in the offer and appointment
process. Administrators get distracted, have piles of paper on their desks, and
don't always sign off as quickly as they should. During my own appointment, the
Provost in charge left on a research expedition for two months between initial
offer and final agreement, during which absolutely nothing happened!

To read more, please see:


3. Conference invited speaker statistics updated
From: Nancy Morrison [NMorris_at_UTNet.UToledo.Edu]

Today I completed a long-overdue update to the CSWA's web page on the gender
statistics of invited women speakers at conferences. The number of conferences
in the list has more than doubled since the last update. The mean, median, and
quartile values of the percentage of women speakers have risen, but I don't want
to read too much into this increase because sampling effects are enormous.

For conferences located in North America that clearly specify invited speakers
and are listed by the Canadian Astronomy Data Centre, this list is complete for
the first half of 2013 and for 2012. The restriction by location is mainly due
to time constraints.

For conferences located elsewhere, this list is far from complete. Data for a
few conferences were sent in by SOC members or attendees - thank you! If you
would like to have your favorite (or otherwise) conference included, please send
me at least the link to the conference web site, the name of the SOC chair, and
the number of men and women invited research speakers (no popular lecturers,

For statistics update, please see:


4. Why Aren't More Girls Attracted To Physics?
From: Nancy Brickhouse [nbrickhouse_at_cfa.harvard.edu>]

By Shankar Vedantam

You don't need to be a social scientist to know there is a gender diversity
problem in technology. The tech industry in Silicon Valley and across the nation
is overwhelmingly male-dominated.

That isn't to say there aren't women working at tech firms. Yahoo CEO Marissa
Mayer and Sheryl Sandberg of Facebook have raised the profile of women at
high-tech firms. But those prominent exceptions do not accurately portray who
makes up the engineering ranks at those and other tech companies.

Visit Silicon Valley and you will hear many people talk about the need to
increase the number of female hackers. The conventional wisdom about why there
are so few female coders usually points a finger at disparities in the talent
pool, which is linked to disparities in tech education. In fact, starting as
early as adolescence, girls and boys often choose different academic paths. When
the time comes for young people to elect to go into engineering school, serious
gender disparities become visible.

To learn more, please see:


5. Chicken and Egg
From: Hannah Jang-Condell via womeninastronomy.blogspot.com

[This post by Hannah lends some commentary to the NPR piece excerpted above. -Eds]

I recently heard this story on NPR about why some schools have a higher
percentage of girls taking physics than others (the story was also posted on the
CSWA facebook page). The study done by Dr. Catherine Riegle-Crumb sought to
understand why there is such a wide variation in the number of girls taking high
school physics across the country. After controlling for factors such as wealth,
family educational background, and location, She says that: "What we found is
that in communities that had a higher percentage of women in the labor force who
are working in science, technology, engineering and math, that in those schools,
girls were as likely as boys to take physics, or even more likely."

To read more, please see:


6. Reverse discrimination?
From: Ed Bertschinger via womeninastronomy.blogspot.com

This week I gave a talk about physics education that included a substantial
discussion of the benefits of diversity in creating a successful university
program. I was presenting in a different country, where the culture is
patriarchal although respectful of minorities. Very few of the faculty or
students in this physics audience were women.

At the end of the talk, a young man asked, "Why are you trying to recruit women?
Isn't that reverse discrimination?" I smiled, glad to have an elephant in the
room revealed.

To read more, please see:


7. New book published showcases over 30 women physicists
From: WIPHYS, August 13, 2013

Blazing the Trail: Essays by Leading Women in Science

by Emma Ideal and Rhiannon Meharchand

This new book provides over 30 new role models to future scientists whose
stories will inspire young women to consider careers in the physical sciences.
The book contains short pieces written by women who completed their education in
physics in the United States and who subsequently pursued physics careers in
academia, government, and industry (though there are a few unique cases).

Learn more about the book here


8. Review: Rocket Girl
From: Matthew Greenhouse [matthew.a.greenhouse_at_nasa.gov]

By Jeff Foust

Several events this summer have offered reminders of how far women have come in
the space community, and society in general. In June, NASA selected an astronaut
class that was, for the first time, 50-percent women, a milestone taking place
around the same time as the 30th anniversary of Sally Ride's and the 50th
anniversary of Valentina Tereshkova's historic spaceflights. Those events show
how far women have some, given the dismissive attitudes towards women in the
space field in the past (see 'You've come a long way, baby!', The Space Review,
July 15, 2013).

Not every female aerospace pioneer, though, is as famous as Ride or Tereshkova.
Take, as one example, Mary Sherman Morgan. Billed in the subtitle of George
Morgan's biography as "America's first female rocket scientist," she played a
key role in the successful launch of America's first satellite, Explorer 1, in
1958. Her contribution, though, had been forgotten until after her death, when
George Morgan, her eldest son, was inspired to find out the role she played in
the early days of America's space program.

To read more, please see:


9. Singles Need Work-Life Balance Too
From: Elysse Voyer [elysse.voyer_at_oamp.fr]

If you think balancing work and family demands is one of the central challenges
of modern life, you might be surprised to learn that parents score better than
their childless counterparts on the work/life balance scale.

New research by Professor Jarrod Haar from Massey University in New Zealand has
compared the levels of work/life balance achieved by parents and non-parents
with some surprising results.

Professor Haar surveyed 609 parents and 708 non-parents for his study. He found
that 52 per cent of parents felt happy with their work/life balance, while only
42 per cent of those without children felt they were achieving balance.

To read more, please see:


10. A Star Philosopher Falls, and a Debate Over Sexism Is Set Off
From: Avi Loeb [aloeb_at_cfa.harvard.edu]

This is an article that appeared in the NY Times about the troubling
situation in the field of Philosophy.

By Jennifer Schuessler

Ever since Socrates' wife was painted as a jealous shrew by one of his pupils,
women have had it tough in philosophy.

Thinkers from Aristotle to Kant questioned whether women were fully capable of
reason. Today, many in the field say, gender bias and outright sexual harassment
are endemic in philosophy, where women make up less than 20 percent of
university faculty members, lower than in any other humanities field, and
account for a tiny fraction of citations in top scholarly journals.

While the status of women in the sciences has received broad national attention,
debate about sexism in philosophy has remained mostly within the confines of
academia. But the revelation this summer that Colin McGinn, a star philosopher
at the University of Miami, had agreed to leave his tenured post after
allegations of sexual harassment brought by a graduate student, has put an
unusually famous name to the problem, exposing the field to what some see as a
healthy dose of sunlight.

To read more, please see:


11. Membership in the Science and Technology Definition Teams for Reduced Scale X-ray Mission Concepts
From: Jeffrey Kruk [Jeffrey.W.Kruk_at_nasa.gov]

NASA's Physics of the Cosmos (PCOS) Program plans to establish a Science and
Technology Definition Team (STDT) to study concepts for a potential
reduced-scale strategic spectroscopy X-ray mission with total mission cost less
than $1B in FY 2013 constant year dollars. The X-ray Probe (XAP) STDT is being
constituted to assist the Astrophysics Division, through its PCOS Program
Office, in developing a reference mission concept of high scientific, technical,
and programmatic merit that would both address the X-ray science goals and
program prioritizations of the Decadal Survey New World New Horizons (NWNH) for
X-ray astrophysics and be executable within the Astrophysics Division's notional
budget profile.

This letter is issued to solicit applications for participation in the STDT from
scientists at U.S. institutions with expertise and experience in all aspects of
X-ray astrophysics, including observation, theory, technology development, and
instrumentation. The X-ray Astrophysics Probe (XAP) STDT will build on the
notional probe-size mission concept developed by the X-ray Concept Study Team in
2012 (NCAL), focused on high-resolution X-ray spectroscopy of astrophysical
sources with a microcalorimeter.

**Applications must be received by 11:59 PM EST on August 22, 2013.**

For background information, task description, and further application details,
please see here:


For more about the Physics of the Cosmos (PCOS) Program, please see


12. APS Conferences for Undergraduate Women in Physics
From: Deanna Ratnikova [ratnikova_at_aps.org]

The student application period for the APS Conferences for Undergraduate Women
in Physics (CUWiP) will open in September. Students have until November 1 to

Conferences for Undergraduate Women in Physics (CUWiP) are three-day regional
conferences for undergraduate physics majors.

A national flyer listing the 2014 sites has been sent to all US physics
departments. If you would like to print additional copies of the flyer, please
visit the APS CUWiP site:


Have questions about the application process?
Email: women_at_aps.org.

13. Job Opportunities

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


 * New postdoctoral fellowship in Hamburg, Germany, designed for female


 * St. Olaf College – Tenure Track Faculty Position in Experimental Physics

 * Tenure Track Assistant Professor - Williams College

 * A variety of openings are available at AURA:

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16. Access to Past Issues


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