Thursday, March 14, 2019

Astro2020 APC Notice of Intent due March 20, take CSWA Survey for 2020s Priorities

By Aparna Venkatesan

As a reminder, Astro2020: Decadal Survey of Astronomy and Astrophysics has some deadlines coming up very soon! The science white papers were due March 11, and the Notice of Intent for the APC (activity, project, of state of the profession consideration) category is due March 20.

Please see the National Academy of Sciences site for Astro2020:

The NOI form for the APC white papers is here:

NOIs can be targeted and brief. To the best of our knowledge, white papers will be accepted in July without a submitted NOI, but submitting an NOI will help the decadal survey committees and working groups gauge and plan for the topics and anticipated volume of submissions.

Full APC papers can be 5-10 pages long and have a tentative due date of July 1. The NAS site states that the exact format will be announced soon.

We encourage our community members to strongly consider having their voices and priorities for the next decade heard through white paper submissions, especially our junior, female and/or underrepresented minority professionals and those served by AAS diversity committees. Please do suggest actionable recommendations in the white paper(s) you submit, as this would be most useful for funding agencies and institutions.

For slides with an overview of the nature and process of the decadal survey from Dara Norman, please see here

And last - please take the CSWA survey on our community needs in the 2020s ( This will help the CSWA develop one or more white papers for Astro2020 and create a new strategic plan for the 2020s for CSWA.

Thursday, March 7, 2019

More Women are Earning Doctorates in Science, Engineering, and Health But There’s Still Work To Do

This graph shows the fraction of U.S. doctoral degrees awarded
to women in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics
(STEM) fields. The data include both U.S. citizens/residents and
temporary residents. Source: IPEDS and APS.
By Nicolle Zellner and JoEllen McBride

The National Science Foundation released a report this month with the headline “Number of Women with U.S. Doctorates in Science, Engineering, or Health Employed in the United States More Than Doubles since 1997.” The editors of the AASWOMEN Newsletter decided to take a closer look at the numbers and unpack this title to see where women stand in the science, engineering, or health (SEH) doctorate landscape. The short answer: employed women with PhDs are generally still in the minority.

Table 2 of the article reports the data by “broad occupation and sex”. In this table, the actual numbers of “employed U.S.-trained SEH doctorate holders residing in the United States” in both 1997 and 2017 are compared to each other. In short, the percentage of all female PhDs employed in science and engineering (S&E) occupations increased by 10.8% between 1997 and 2017.
  • Females with PhDs in biological, agricultural and other life sciences showing the greatest gain (14%).
  • Females with PhDs employed in the physical and related sciences rose by 10.7%.
  • Females with PhDs employed as computer scientists saw the smallest gain (4%).
Other occupations tell a more promising story. The percentage of employed females with PhDs in S&E related occupations (e.g., health-related occupations, S&E managers, S&E pre-college teachers, and S&E technicians and technologists) rose by 16.5%, with social scientists close behind (16.4%). The percentage of those with PhDs employed as psychologists rose by 12.5%, and women now make up almost 60% of all psychologists, outnumbering the men. According to the article, “female early career doctorate holders were more likely than their comparison group of men to report professional services (e.g., health care, counseling, financial services, legal services) as their primary work activity (12% versus 6%, [Table 4]). Some of these differences in primary work activities between men and women, regardless of career stage, may be associated with differences in their broad occupational categories and sectors of employment.”

Table 4, which shows primary work activities, is also interesting. Women report that they are employed in about one-third of all research and development work in 2017, compared to just one-fifth in 1997. Women are also gaining in the areas of teaching: Men used to hold more teaching positions than women, and the numbers are closer now.  Whether or not this translates to tenure-track positions is unknown, but unlikely. According to data compiled by the Chronicle of Higher Education on faculty pay in 2017, women still make up a majority of assistant professors, instructors, and lecturers. Overall, between 1998 and 2016 the number of full-time faculty at postsecondary institutions increased by 38% while the number of part-time faculty increased by 74% between 1998 and 2011, then decreased by 4% between 2011 and 2016. Between 1975 and 2011, part-time faculty went from being 30% of faculty to 51% while full-time tenure and tenure-track faculty saw a 16% and 11% decrease over the same time. A 2009 survey by the National Center for Education Statistics reported that women make up 51% of all adjunct faculty, while a smaller survey (N~20,000) conducted by an adjunct group called the Coalition on the Academic Workforce put the proportion of female adjunct faculty at closer to 61%. So not only are institutions relying more heavily on part-time faculty, it’s possible that women are also more likely to be given those part-time positions.

Despite the gains in S&E PhD employment for women, significant as they are, the percentage of those with PhDs employed in non-S&E occupations rose by 17.5%, more than all of the S&E occupations, related or actual.

We recognize that an increase in the number of women with SEH doctorates employed in the U.S. is progress, but that doesn’t mean our work is done. Women still do not hold as many management positions as men and they make up a larger portion of part-time and non-tenured populations. A shift in culture is necessary to make places of employment more welcoming and supportive of working women including, but not limited to better parental leave policies, changing the assumption that duties requiring “soft skills” are better handled by women, institutions taking steps to eliminate bias in their hiring process, and promoting women to more senior positions. The APS also showed that although the number of women earning doctorates in the sciences was steadily increasing between 1975 and 2009, its leveled off since. We hope that these numbers will encourage institutions to continue to work towards equity and inclusivity until the barriers that prevent women and people diverse in gender, race, sexuality, and ability from making their contributions to SEH fields.

The AASWomen Editors thank Rick Fienberg, AAS Press Officer, for bringing this article to our attention.

Friday, March 1, 2019

AASWomen Newsletter for March 1, 2019

AAS Committee on the Status of Women
March 1, 2019
eds: Nicolle Zellner, Heather Flewelling, Maria Patterson, and JoEllen McBride

This week's issues:  

1. Does your conference spark joy? Two days at Women in Space 2019 
2. NASA Renames Facility to Honor 'Hidden Figures' Subject Katherine Johnson
3. Announcing the 11th Annual Susan Niebur WiPS Networking Event – LPSC 2019 
4. Conferences on General Relativity, Gravitation, and Gravitational Waves
5. Deaf Students Feel the Universe’s Vibrations in New Workshop
6. When Pioneers Disappear from History 
The Tower of the Moon and the Stars,
built by Queen Sonduk (632 CE).
Image by Gabriella Bernardi.
7. How some men are challenging gender inequity in the lab
8. 18 Children's Books About Female Scientists, Because STEM-inism Is The Future
9.  The unforgotten sisters: Sonduk, the astronomer queen
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 

Thursday, February 28, 2019

Does your conference spark joy? Two days at Women in Space 2019

Group photo from Women in Space 2019
By Adeene Denton

Adeene Denton is a Presidential Fellow pursuing her PhD at Brown University in planetary geoscience, with a focus on early martian climatic and geologic history as well as basin formation on Pluto. She is both a scientist and a historian focused on approaching future planetary exploration from a scientific and humanistic perspective.

Editor's Note: This is one of a series of recaps of the Women in Space conference. Each will feature the viewpoint of someone at a different career stage.

On February 7 and 8, 2019, I returned to the Women in Space conference for its second year of programming. In its inaugural outing in Toronto, I found Women in Planetary Science and Exploration (as it was then called) to be a conference experience unlike any other. Scientists, engineers, humanities scholars, and educators were all welcomed to the space as valued contributors to our discussion. Now in its second year and in a new venue in Scottsdale, Arizona, Women in Space has grown and improved while continuing to be one of the only conferences of its kind: a conference where the experiences of women and non-binary people dictate the programming, rather than having programming made for us by an institution that bears us only a passing, cursory interest. And while no conference is ever perfect, I’m here not to critique Women in Space, but to praise it. I want to talk about the critical things it’s getting right, because it’s the only conference I’ve attended that has done so.