Monday, September 1, 2014

Celebrate Labor Day by Fixing Your Email Problem

I will honor Labor Day 2014 by fixing a longstanding cancer in my life: My smartphone is hereafter going to have an circumscribed role in my time and mind.

In many ways, my smartphone has been a great help with work-life balance. It has allowed much more flexible work hours: If I need to leave work early because my child is sick at school, or to run a family errand, I can still login to release that grant proposal by the 5pm deadline. And as an observational astronomer, there will always be odd hours when I need to be available to answer questions that are emerging while a collaborator is at the telescope. When on business travel, it helps me keep the day-to-day administrative work of research and grant related questions rolling along while I am sitting at the airport.

But then I catch myself checking email first thing in the morning while I am still in bed. Or checking it while cooking dinner for my family. Or checking it while helping my daughter with homework.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Update on the number of women hired

Update: The numbers below have been updated thanks to the careful verification of the anonymous commenter and the updated status of the UCSB and Illinois hires (Ruth Murray-Clay and Ryan Foley, respectively). 

Last year I wrote a post about the number of women hired based on the Astronomy Rumor Mill. Sure, this is an incomplete database, but it is our go-to source of information about the recently hired. Here's a quick update based on hires made this past job cycle. 

As before, I only selected jobs at US institutions because non-US institutional listings are incomplete on the Rumor Mill. I selected only the final decisions for each search, usually denoted in bold text. While the short lists are typically very inaccurate, I've found that the bolded accepted offers are a fair representation of reality. Last year there were a total of 67 hires, of which 37.3% were women. Not bad! This was encouraging because it tracked the percentage of women enrolled in Astronomy PhD programs, which has hovered around 33% over the past decade.

With that background info in mind, here are this year's stats. Unfortunately for everyone in astronomy, the number of total offers is down from 67 to 40 (ouch!). However, the percentage of women has actually increased slightly this year:

Number of men hired:          24
Number of women hired:        16
Percentage female (2014)      40%

My take-away from this is that the job market is looking as bad as ever. However, institutions are doing a much better job of providing a roughly equal opportunity for both genders, broadly speaking, which is encouraging. 

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Career Profiles: Astronomer to University Administrator in a Center for Teaching & Learning

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 Carie Cardamone, an astronomer turned Associate Director at a University-based Center for Teaching and Learning. 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 We plan to post a new career profile to this blog every Thursday.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014


If you're looking for talking points to confront our country's neanderthal stance towards equal pay for equal work, check out John Oliver's diatribe on Last Week Tonight. Zing zing. My favorite bit comes at 2min10sec into the clip... can't wait to use that one.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Why So Few? Department Climate and Culture I

The 2010 report entitled, Why So Few? Women in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics, by the American Association of University Women (AAUW), investigates climate and culture in science and engineering departments at colleges and universities. These areas are especially important for women - both students and faculty.

The graph shows that among first-year college students, women are less likely than men to say that they are interested in majoring in a STEM field. The difference is most pronounced in engineering (shown in green) and computer science (shown in red). However, women are more likely to major in the biological/agricultural sciences.