Friday, March 20, 2009

AASWOMEN for March 20, 2009

Issue of March 20, 2009
eds. Joan Schmelz, Caroline Simpson & Michele Montgomery

This week's issues:

1. AASWOMEN Advice

2. Astro2010 Infrastructure Study Groups

3. How to Submit, Subscribe, or Unsubscribe to AASWOMEN

4. Access to Past Issues of AASWOMEN

1. AASWOMEN Advice
From: Joan Schmelz []

AASWOMEN was asked for advice recently on two different topics: (1) suggestions for dealing with situations where your ideas are ignored or dismissed; and (2) questions one might ask or be asked during an interview for a job in academia.

(1) Have you ever been in this situation: you’re sitting in a meeting and make what you think is a great suggestion; you’re ignored. Ten minutes later, someone else makes a similar suggestion and everyone thinks it’s just the greatest idea. Are you invisible? Did you imagine it? Were you really speaking out loud?

How can women deal with being ignored at meetings and/or having their ideas dismissed? Are there ways to enlist support of colleagues? What if you do not have supportive colleagues? I have read and heard of various strategies:

-Make sure you get an adequate seat at the 'table' (so that you are not hiding in a corner); -Choose your timing: wait for the 'right opportunity' to jump into the conversation (not always easy); -Speak slowly; offer more than a quick quip; -Should you embellish with 'authoritative phrases'? -Should you remind the group that this was your idea? ("As I suggested earlier..."); -Should you help out other women? ("As colleague-X suggested...").

Are these effective strategies? What is your experience? What else can we do?

(2) About questions one might ask or be asked during an interview for a job in academia. I found a couple of pretty good links:

I think these are a good place to start, but I would like to ask for help from AASWOMEN readers in creating (1) advice for those who find themselves being ignored; and (2) a set of questions that would be appropriate for jobs in astronomy and physics.

I’ll compile the lists and post them on the CSWA web site under ‘Advice’ at:

FYI: Advice listings already in place are:

1. Top Ten Ways to be a Better Advisor for Graduate Students 2. Advisors, How Do You Deal with Student Tears? 3. Yes, Virginia, Discrimination and Harassment Do Still Happen 4. Advice on When to Raise a Family 5. Advice for Postdocs Applying for Tenure-Track Positions 6. The 2-Body Problem: New Advice for an Old Problem?

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2. Astro2010 Infrastructure Study Groups
From: Joan Schmelz []

After last week’s item about Astronomy Life After the Post-Doc Phase, there was quite a bit of activity on the Women in Astronomy Blog:

related to the two original items:

"The Post Postdoc Phase" From: Joan_at_Women in Astronomy Blog, March 9, 2009

"Something I Would Like to See the Decadal Report Address But Am Afraid It Won't" From: Hannah_at_Women in Astronomy Blog, March 9, 2009

as well as a new related post from our blogger-in-chief: “Career Path Networking” From: Hannah_at_Women in Astronomy Blog, March 16, 2009

All this is happening as the Astronomy Decadal Survey gears up and the State of Profession Position Papers come due. These are available at:

What is now also in the public domain is the membership of the various Astro2010 Infrastructure Study Groups, which includes demographics (DEM). The job of the DEM Study Group is to estimate the numbers of astronomers and astrophysicists working in different environments and subfields. Consider diversity, geography and student populations. In academia, consider diversity among different academic ranks. Examine the individual grants programs in NASA, the NSF and DOE and break down resource allocation by field, discipline and cost category where possible. Collate oversubscription rates for programs. Examine publication rates by field and discipline.

I am member of the DEM Study Group as are several former members of CSWA. We are ‘consultants,’ which means that our role is to gatherer information rather than to make decisions. We have weekly telecons and are actively considering issues of gender and ethnic representation as well as the ‘postdoc problem,’ which is discussed in Hannah’s blog post as well as in many of the State of Profession Position Papers.

I’ve read several of these Position Papers so far, and especially for issues related to AASWOMEN, I can recommend:

-Challenges Facing Young Astrophysicists by Zakamska et al. -Employment and Funding in Astronomy by Seth et al. -Training the Next Generation of Astronomers by Williams et al.

I’ll keep reading. If you have a comment or concern about DEM issues, we invite you to post it to one of the blog items. If you want or need to remain anonymous, you can e-mail it to me directly.

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3. How to Submit, Subscribe, or Unsubscribe to AASWOMEN

To submit to AASWOMEN: send email to All material sent to that address will be posted unless you tell us otherwise (including your email address).

To subscribe or unsubscribe to AASWOMEN go to

and fill out the form.

If you experience any problems, please email

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4. Access to Past Issues of AASWOMEN

Past issues of AASWOMEN are available at

Each annual summary includes an index of topics covered.

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