AAS Committee on the Status of Women
Issue of August 23, 2013
eds. Michele M. Montgomery, Daryl Haggard, Nick Murphy, & Nicolle Zellner

This week's issues:

1. Relocating to NSF

2. Why So Few? An Introduction

3. Postdoc-hood & Infertility

4. Addressing Sexual Harassment in Astronomy

5. Astronomy Ambassadors Workshop for Early-Career AAS Members

6. International programs on international collaborations for women from AAAS

7. Revealing Lives: Women in Science 1830-2000: Conference and Call for Papers

8. How to Respect a Transgender Person

9. The Magnifying Glass Ceiling: The Plight of Women in Science

10. Job Opportunities

11. How to Submit to the AASWomen Newsletter

12. How to Subscribe or Unsubscribe to the AASWomen Newsletter

13. Access to Past Issues of the AASWomen Newsletter

1. Relocating to NSF
From: Joan Schmelz via womeninastronomy.blogspot.com

I am moving to NSF for a one-year position. I feel like I should tell you this
because after years as a CSWA member, an AASWOMEN editor, and a
Women in Astronomy blogger, you readers are closer to me than some members of my
own department! The first question I asked was, "Can I finish out my term as
CSWA chair if I come to NSF?" Fortunately, the answer was, "Yes." My husband and
I will be moving to Arlington, VA, in two weeks. I start work on Sept. 9. Since
there are a lot more astronomers in DC than there are in Memphis, it will be
absolutely great to see colleagues, both old and new, a lot more often.

To read more, please see


2. Why So Few? An Introduction
From: Joan Schmelz via womeninastronomy.blogspot.com

The 2010 report entitled, Why So Few? Women in Science, Technology, Engineering,
and Mathematics, by the American Association of University Women (AAUW) is based
on interviews with top researchers and a review of the large body of academic
research literature on gender and science. It presents eight separate research
findings on the nurture side of the nature-nurture debate.  Each of these
findings demonstrates that social and environmental factors clearly contribute
to the underrepresentation of women in science and engineering.


3. Postdoc-hood & Infertility
From: Anonymous via womeninastronomy.blogspot.com

My husband and I have been actively trying to conceive for over a year and a
half and working with a fertility specialist for over a year. We're both
postdocs in STEM. I'm in astronomy.

As a postdoc, I know I'm not alone in feeling a lack of control over 'the next
step' in my career. Having another important piece of my life feeling as though
it's outside of my control has at times been too much. It's particularly hard at
the beginning of each new cycle. I'm a naturally optimistic person, and so each
month I get excited about the possibility, and then when it doesn't happen, I'm
still learning how to cope with the loss.  

I'm extremely grateful for the flexibility that comes with being a postdoc.
Because of this, I've been able to arrive late or leave early for the multiple
appointments each month (1x during the first week of the cycle, 1-3x mid cycle,
and 1-2x at the end of the cycle). I've also been thankful that I can choose
whether to travel or not for research. Although I love to travel, we saw early
on that, even if I don't feel stressed while traveling, it has a significant
impact on the length of my cycle, when I ovulate, etc. But I do worry about the
impact this has had on my research and forward progress in this career.

To read more, please see


4. Addressing Sexual Harassment in Astronomy
From: Debra Fischer

We've all been witnessing the embarrassing charges of sexual harassment by San
Diego mayor, Bob Filner.  As the number of women coming forward continued to
increase, it seemed surprising that this could have gone on for so long.
However, the women subjected to his predatory behavior were generally
subordinates or emotionally compromised; they were not on equal footing with
this man. They may not have even realized that this was a pattern of misconduct
rather than a particular, and perhaps flattering interest in them.  Bob Filner's
behavior was egregious and should have been easy to recognize – yet it was years
before he was exposed.

Fortunately, sexual predators are rare. The problem is that these individuals
can also be difficult to recognize. The offenders can be charismatic and may
well have high social IQ's, even though their behavior is actually manipulative
and sociopathic.  They hide in plain sight in either large or small departments
because their behavior is not directed toward their peers – it is directed
toward those who would find it difficult to come forth or who might lack

Students, postdoctoral fellows and junior faculty can all be vulnerable targets
if inappropriate attentions come from someone who is in power. The conundrum is
that networking is a critically important part of carrying out the business of
science. The vast majority of leaders in our field are activists who try to seek
out and encourage new talent and this recognition of your talent is an
affirmation that you are an emerging scientist and a valued colleague.  However,
if the attention begins to feel too flattering or if you are the target of
inappropriate behavior, it is in your best interest to find the ear of someone
you trust. If multiple allegations of misconduct begin to pile up, departments
should see this as a red flag for behavior that is detrimental to a vibrant
academic climate.

5. Astronomy Ambassadors Workshop for Early-Career AAS Members
From: Rick Fienberg [rick.fienberg_at_aas.org]

The AAS Astronomy Ambassadors program supports early-career AAS members with
training in resources and techniques for effective outreach to K-12 students,
families, and the public:


The next AAS Astronomy Ambassadors workshop will be held 4-5 January 2014 at the
223rd AAS meeting in Washington, DC. The number of participants is limited. We
will have sessions appropriate for both those who have done some outreach
already and those just starting their outreach adventures, and we especially
encourage applications from members of groups that are presently
underrepresented in science. If interested, please complete the online
application form by 18 October 2013.

More workshop information:

Online application:

6. International programs on international collaborations for women from AAAS
From: Nancy Morrison [nmorris_at_utnet.utoledo.edu]

The International Office of the American Association for the Advancement of
Science (AAAS) provides information on funding and other opportunities for
international collaborations by women. 'In particular, AAAS is currently seeking
to improve STE networks between and among women in the Middle East and North
Africa with similar networks in the United States.'

To learn more:


7. Revealing Lives: Women in Science 1830-2000: Conference and Call for Papers
From: Helen Mason [hm11_at_damtp.cam.ac.uk]

International Conference 2014: Call for Papers
Thursday 22 May - Friday 23 May 2014 The Royal Society, London

How are we to recover, interpret and understand women's experiences in science?
Popular history delivers stories of a few 'heroines' of science, but perhaps
these narratives do more to conceal than reveal? Where were the workaday women
scientists - now largely invisible - whose contributions have helped shape
science today?

This conference aims to locate and examine women's participation in science, to
identify areas for further research and to reflect on how historical
interpretations can inform the role of women in science today. The programme
will include contemporary science-led panels to provide context and help build
connections between the past and the present.

'Science' and 'participation' will be defined to encourage maximum inclusivity
and we welcome contributions from a broad, multidisciplinary perspective. Themes
may include (but are not limited to):

Women and learned societies
Scientific collaboration
Women and spaces of scientific production
Women within familial & social networks of science
Women and scientific education and learning
Historiography, archives and hidden women of science
Representations of women scientists: media, fiction, film, art
Science today: issues & challenges
Gendered roles in science
The 'leaky pipeline': women leaving science

Selected papers from the conference will appear in a special issue of the Royal
Society's history journal Notes and Records (final papers to be submitted by end
of September 2014).

Proposals for panels and for individual papers are encouraged. Please send
abstracts for papers (max 20 minutes) of no more than 200 words, and for panels
of no more than 400 words, along with brief biographical details, to Dr Claire
Jones: C.G.Jones2_at_liverpool.ac.uk and Dr Sue Hawkins:
S.E.Hawkins_at_kingston.ac.uk by the deadline of Friday 1 November 2013.

For more information, please visit the meeting website:

Best wishes,
The WISRNet Project Team

8. How to Respect a Transgender Person
From: Nick Murphy [namurphy_at_cfa.harvard.edu]

If you have recently learned of a transgender person in your life, you might not
understand their identity and you may be unsure of how to act around them
without offending or hurting their feelings. The term "transgender person" in
this article means a person who does not identify with the gender they were
assigned with at birth. There are transgender people all over the world and in a
wide variety of cultures - in fact, it'd be hard to name a country in the world
or culture where transgender people aren't present. For such people, it is not
always easy to explain their gender situation in today's society. Here's how to
understand and respect someone who challenges your ideas about gender, and who
does not easily fall within the category of "male" or "female."

To read more, please see


9. The Magnifying Glass Ceiling: The Plight of Women in Science
From: Nick Murphy [namurphy_at_cfa.harvard.edu]

By Jane Hu

Scientists frequently reference a quote attributed to Einstein: "You do not
truly understand something unless you can explain it to your grandma." Whether
or not these words were actually Einstein's, they've been used again and again
to encourage students to explain highly technical details in a simple way so
that even your grandma could understand it. The assumption is that your dear old
grandma is a feeble-minded lady who doesn't know anything about phishing or
bitcoin or Bayesian statistics.

What's interesting here is that it's always your grandma you're asked to explain
things to, not your grandpa. This subtle difference seems innocuous, but it
reflects the age-old stereotype that men are more competent than women in math
and science. Luckily, we've moved forward from the days when women in science
like Rosalind Franklin, Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin, and Lise Meitner had their
ideas overlooked or even blatantly stolen, but the undercurrent of sexism has
not disappeared – it has just become subtler.

To read the full article, please see


10. Job Opportunities

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


  * Jansky Fellow

  * North American ALMA Science Center (NAASC) Postdoctoral Fellow

  * Program Director, Astronomical Sciences Division, NSF

11. How to Submit to the AASWOMEN newsletter

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12. How to Subscribe or Unsubscribe to the AASWOMEN newsletter

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13. Access to Past Issues


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