Monday, September 29, 2014

Becoming a Leader

 
Today's guest blogger is Kelly Korreck. Kelly is an Astrophysicist at the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory part of the Harvard- Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.  She builds solar instrumentation.  She is the Head of Science Operation for the SWEAP Plasma Instrument Suite aboard NASA’s Solar Probe Plus mission to touch the Sun.  Her research interests include shock physics and space weather. In her spare time, she prefers to be on a beach or a sailboat!
 
As a follow on to Joan Schmelz's August 4, 2014, article “On leadership”, I volunteered to share my experience in a yearlong leadership training program, some advice on how to gain some of the experience without a formal program and some thoughts as to why this type of training matters for scientists**.
 
I had the amazing opportunity to spend a year learning and working with 21 other leaders at the Smithsonian ranging from educators to curators to contract specialists as part of the Russell E. Palmer Leadership Development Program (PLDP) at the Smithsonian Institution. The program was started at the Smithsonian in 2007 with the goal of developing leadership skills such as communication and conflict management while strengthening ties between the 19 museums and 9 research centers that make up the Smithsonian Institution.  The program consisted of leadership skills development, working with a mentor, a rotation project and culminated in a large management project that was pan-Institutional in nature.
 

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Career Profiles: Astronomer to Defense Researcher

The AAS Committee on the Status of Women in Astronomy and the AAS Employment Committee have compiled dozens of interviews highlighting the diversity of career trajectories available to astronomers. The interviews share advice and lessons learned from individuals on those paths.

Below is our interview with an astronomer turned researcher in defense. S/he notes that the job is quite similar to the type of work one would do in a theory postdoc. With a 40 hour work week and a flexible schedule, s/he finds personal life pretty well balanced with work life. If you have questions, suggestions, advice to share, etc. about this career path, please leave a comment below.

For access to all our Career Profile Project interviews, please visit http://aas.org/jobs/career-profiles. We plan to post a new career profile to this blog every Thursday.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Blinded by my privilege

A large, visible knapsack.
htleather.com
This is a repost of an essay from my personal blog, Mahalo.ne.Trash. where it has received 4400+ page views. Clearly it resonated. The topic of privilege has come up here quite a bit in the last year. A good definition from the AMSA (.docx) is as follows: "Privilege operates on personal, interpersonal, cultural, and institutional levels and gives advantages, favors, and benefits to members of dominant groups at the expense of members of target groups." See also this link. Keys to privilege include a power differential between an ingroup and an outgroup. In astronomy, this typically means white, straight, male holding privilege over white women, women and men of color and thos in the LGBT* communities. Another key is that privilege is often hidden from those who have it, and extremely obvious to those who lack it. Imagine a billionaire talking about how money and possessions don't matter to him and his family. 

I was recently talking with a female astronomer about diversity in astronomy. At one point, she said, "You don't know what it's like to be marginalized in your dept., to not have people listen to you and talk over you. To not give you the benefit of the doubt." Now, keep in mind that my conversation partner is white. I was a bit taken aback by her comment, and I blurted out, "You think I don't understand?! I am a Black man in America. At Harvard. In astronomy. There are of order 10 other Black people at my station in life. Until only recently I was rarely given the benefit of the doubt! I understand marginalization."

I could tell that she was, in turn, taken aback. I think that in her view I was just another man enjoying all of the associated privileges of being male in astronomy. To be sure, I do enjoy many membership benefits. I can look around the room in faculty meetings and see other men. Lot's of 'em. But it was obvious to me that she overlooked a major detail: even though I'm a man, I am far more of a minority in any astronomy gathering than she is. Not that it's a competition. I'd honestly rather lose the who's-more-of-a-minority contest. 

However, before I was able to feel too self-satisfied, I recalled a time when I did forget about my membership benefits. Indeed, I was totally ignorant of my privilege, to the detriment of people I was trying to help. 

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Career Profiles: Astronomer to Chief of the Nautical Almanac Office at the US Naval Observatory

The AAS Committee on the Status of Women in Astronomy and the AAS Employment Committee have compiled dozens of interviews highlighting the diversity of career trajectories available to astronomers. The interviews share advice and lessons learned from individuals on those paths.

Below is our interview with Sethanne Howard, an astronomer turned Chief of the Nautical Almanac Office at the US Naval Observatory. If you have questions, suggestions, advice to share, etc. about this career path, please leave a comment below.

For access to all our Career Profile Project interviews, please visit http://aas.org/jobs/career-profiles. We plan to post a new career profile to this blog every Thursday.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Study Shows Few Male Scientists are Involved Dads

Reproduced from this Washington Post article by Brigid Schulte

For years, people have been puzzling over why there are so few women in science, technology, engineering and math, and why the university professors who teach the subjects are predominantly men.

Is it genetics? Preference? Caregiving responsibilities? An unwelcoming environment?

Turns out, according to a new study released Thursday on men in academic science, it may have a lot to do with the boss.

The majority of tenured full professors at some of the most prestigious universities in the country, who have the most power to hire and fire and set the workplace expectation of long hours, are men who have either a full-time spouse at home who handles all caregiving and home duties, or a spouse with a part-time or secondary career who takes primary responsibility for the home.