Issue of June 12, 2009
eds. Joan Schmelz, Caroline Simpson & Michele Montgomery
This week's issues:
1. Helen Sawyer Hogg: A Brief History
From: Christine Clement <cclement_at_astro.utoronto.ca>
Helen Sawyer Hogg (1905-1993) was born in Lowell, Mass. She graduated from Mt. Holyoke in 1926 and then went to Harvard where she worked with Harlow Shapley on globular clusters. She received her PhD from Radcliffe in 1931.
In 1930, she married fellow student Frank Hogg and in 1931, they moved to Victoria, British Columbia where Frank was appointed to the staff of the Dominion Astrophysical Observatory. Working as an unpaid volunteer, Helen used the DAO 72-inch reflector to start her own program to search for and study variable stars in globular clusters. In 1935, the family moved to Richmond Hill, Ontario, where Frank joined the staff of the David Dunlap Observatory and Helen continued her globular cluster observing program with the DDO 74-inch. She published more than 200 papers on her research and was well known in the astronomy community for her catalogs of variable stars in globular clusters. She began teaching at the University of Toronto in 1941 and subsequently rose through the ranks to become a full professor in 1957.
Helen was also a skilled administrator. Throughout her career, she was the president of a number of scientific organizations, starting with the AAVSO, in 1939. In 1955-1956, she served as program director for astronomy at NSF in Washington, D.C. She was the founding president of the Canadian Astronomical Society when it formed in 1971.
Outside astronomy, Helen was best known for her writing. For thirty years (1951-1980), she wrote a weekly column on astronomy for a major Toronto newspaper. She also wrote a popular book on astronomy, "The Stars Belong to Everyone", published by Doubleday in 1976.
Her achievements were recognized by many awards and honours. For example, she received the Annie Cannon award (AAS) in 1949, the Rittenhouse medal (Rittenhouse Astronomical Society, Philadelphia) in 1967 and the Dorothea Klumpke-Roberts award (ASP) in 1983. She received six honorary degrees; her first one was from her Alma Mater, Mt. Holyoke, in 1958. In 1976, Helen was appointed a Companion of the Order of Canada, awarded for a lifetime of outstanding achievement and merit of the highest degree.
For more, see e.g., http://www.astro.utoronto.ca/about/hshBack to top.
2. NRC Study on Gender
From: Ivan King [king_at_astro.washington.edu]
Women Faring Well in Hiring and Tenure Processes for Science and Engineering Jobs At Research Universities, But Still Underrepresented in Applicant Pools
WASHINGTON -- Although women are still underrepresented in the applicant pool for faculty positions in math, science, and engineering at major research universities, those who do apply are interviewed and hired at rates equal to or higher than those for men, says a new report from the National Research Council. Similarly, women are underrepresented among those considered for tenure, but those who are considered receive tenure at the same or higher rates than men.
The congressionally mandated report examines how women at research-intensive universities fare compared with men at key transition points in their careers. Two national surveys were commissioned to help address the issue. The report's conclusions are based on the findings of these surveys of tenure-track and tenured faculty in six disciplines -- biology, chemistry, mathematics, civil engineering, electrical engineering, and physics -- at 89 institutions in 2004 and 2005. The study committee also heard testimony and examined data from federal agencies, professional societies, individual university studies, and academic articles.
In each of the six disciplines, women who applied for tenure-track positions had a better chance of being interviewed and receiving job offers than male applicants had. For example, women made up 20 percent of applicants for positions in mathematics but accounted for 28 percent of those interviewed, and received 32 percent of the job offers. This was also true for tenured positions, with the exception of those in biology.
However, women are not applying for tenure-track jobs at research-intensive universities at the same rate that they are earning Ph.D.s, the report says. The gap is most pronounced in disciplines with larger fractions of women receiving Ph.D.s; for example, while women received 45 percent of the Ph.D.s in biology awarded by research-intensive universities from 1999 to 2003, they accounted for only 26 percent of applicants to tenure-track positions at those schools. Research is needed to investigate why more women are not applying for these jobs, the committee said.
For more, please see:Back to top.
3. Best Practices for Recruiting and Retaining Women in Physics
From: Nancy Brickhouse [nbrickhouse_at_cfa.harvard.edu]
"The mark of a successful departmental climate for women is one in which the enthusiasm and ambition of the women undergraduates is transformed smoothly into successful and ambitious women graduate students, with dynamic, forging-ahead female postdocs, energetic junior women faculty, and productive, happy, senior women faculty who all serve as positive role models."
This is a quote from a successful female physics faculty member who has served on several American Physical Society Site Visits to Improve the Climate for Women in Physics. So how can a physics department make this vision a reality? We list below a set of suggested "Best Practices" that are intended as an aid to departments in working towards this goal. From many years of experience with the Site Visits, implementing such best practices will improve the climate for both men and women in physics, and is therefore well worth the effort!
Best Practices for Female Faculty Best Practices for Hiring the Most Qualified Faculty Best Practices for Female Postdoctoral Researchers and Research Scientists Best Practices for Female Graduate Students Best Practices for Female Undergraduate Students Causes for Concern Additional Reading Material Recommended Strategies
Please see:Back to top.
4. The Name Game
From: Hannah at the Women in Astronomy Blog
Back to top.
5. How to Submit, Subscribe, or Unsubscribe to AASWOMEN
To submit to AASWOMEN: send email to aaswomen_at_aas.org. 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 itdept_at_aas.orgBack to top.
6. Access to Past Issues of AASWOMEN
Past issues of AASWOMEN are available at
Each annual summary includes an index of topics covered.Back to top.