Issue of August 14, 2009
eds. Joan Schmelz, Caroline Simpson & Michele Montgomery
This week's issues:
1. Most Inspirational Women Astronomers?
From: Jill Tarter [tarter_at_seti.org]
[Last week, Margaret Burbidge was listed by Jill Tarter as a personal hero and inspiration. Here is more information about this pioneering woman astronomer -- eds.]
Geoff Burbidge was kind enough to relate the history of how Margaret (and he) opened up the mountain tops for female observers. I think this story should be shared and commemorated.
Dear Jill and Ivan,
I don't know what you are proposing for Margaret but here are the facts concerning her observing at Mt. Wilson. We took a position in Pasadena in September 1955. I was a Carnegie fellow - the first theoretician - and Margaret had an appointment at Caltech in Kellogg supported by the Atomic Energy Commission. When it came to observing time I was eligible for observing time at Mt. Wilson as a Carnegie fellow but Margaret was not. Palomar was off limits to all junior staff at Mt. Wilson and all Carnegie fellows. It is correct to say that Margaret got observing time because I applied for it and it was given to me and not to her even though it was an open secret that Margaret was the observer.
Of course, we had to stay at the Agassiz cottage because women were allowed to stay at the monastery. This worked alright until the Spring of 1956 when the weather was bad and I told Humason who was the Secretary of Mt. Wilson that we would have to go up to Mt. Wilson in the truck and not drive our own car up because of the weather conditions. Up to that time we had always driven our own car up there. Milton said that while I could go up in truck Margaret could not. This led to a real row. We told our friends at Caltech and particularly Willie Fowler about this discrimination and they got extremely angry. Ira Bowen, the director of Mt. Wilson, supported Humason's decision. At Caltech the president of Caltech was informed of this situation and he became so angry that he told us that he would call Bowen about this. He did this in our presence together with Willy Fowler in his office at Caltech. Bowen relented and allowed us both to travel up in the truck. From that point on it became clear that Margaret had more rights on the mountain than any woman had. But still they maintained that women were not allowed to observe up there (she was the sole exception). This went on during our whole stay while I was a Carnegie fellow and she was basically at Caltech. This was the year (1956) when our daughter Sarah was born and of course we published B^2FH.
GeoffBack to top.
2. Do-It-Yourself Glass Ceiling
From: Female Science Professor Blog [ http://science-professor.blogspot.com/ ]
[This week, Female Science Professor blogs about her thoughts on a study that concludes women create their own glass ceiling. The story on the study is at: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/32364451/ns/business-careers/ We include some excerpts from Female Science Professor's blog on it here. For the full post, see http://science-professor.blogspot.com/ . -- eds.]
"Women have imposed their own glass ceiling, and the question is why," said Scott Taylor, an assistant professor at the University of New Mexico Anderson School of Management who conducted the study.
No, Scott, the answer is why you chose to interpret your results that way.
Taylor says the findings could indicate why many women don't rise to head companies or why there is a wage disparity between men and women.
That's a bit of a leap. All we have to do is ask and we can get paid more and promoted more? Problem solved? How cool is that?Back to top.
3. In Memoriam: Phyllis Fleming, Women in Physics Pioneer
From: WIPHYS August 10, 2009
Phyllis J. Fleming, physics professor at Wellesley College and a pioneer among women in science, teaching and research, passed away June 23, 2009 at the age of 84. See notices in the Boston Globe http://www.boston.com/bostonglobe/obituaries/articles/2009/07/16/phyllis_fleming_84_pioneer_among_women_in_physics/?page=1
and New York Times http://www.legacy.com/NYTimes/DeathNotices.asp?page=lifestory&personid=129321900 .Back to top.
4. Seeking nominations for Australian Women in Physics Lecure Tour 2010
From: Rachel Ivie [rivie_at_aip.org]
The Australian Institute of Physics has a special program which funds a women to undertake a lecture tour in Australia to talk to schools, the general public and physicists. This year nominations have been opened internationally to women physicists to be nominated. Please see the web site for more information: http://www.physics.usyd.edu.au/wip/Main/Wiplecturer
Dr Pina Dall'Armi-Stoks Australian Institute of Physics Women In Physics Group Chair Australian Institute of Physics - SA Branch Chair giuseppina.dallarmi-stoks_at_dsto.defence.gov.auBack to top.
5. PRA.G.E.S. - PRActising Gender Equality in Science
From: Geoff Clayton [gclayton_at_fenway.phys.lsu.edu]
Newsletter No. 3 is now available from PRA.G.E.S. The project "PRActising Gender Equality in Science" - PRA.G.E.S. consists of an action of coordination, lasting 21 months, aimed at comparing the various strategies implemented for promoting the presence of women in decision-making positions relating to scientific research in public institutions. It pursues the objective of collecting, classifying and evaluating good practices and positive actions (involving those where a positive contribution from men is recorded) that can be found in OECD countries, both at the national level and at the level of the individual institutions, and to make them available, in a usable form, to a number of selected targets, including both decision-makers and other relevant stakeholders.
More information and a link to the newsletters is available at http://www.retepariopportunita.it/defaultdesktop.aspx?page=2749Back to top.
6. GBT Software Engineer, NRAO
From: Dee Boyd [dlboyd_at_nrao.edu]
Software Engineer III
The Robert C. Byrd Green Bank Telescope (GBT) is the world's largest fully steerable telescope. Working at wavelengths ranging from 100cm through 3mm, the GBT supports a diverse range of scientific research. Additionally, the GBT has an ongoing program of research and development projects which keeps the telescope at the cutting edge of science and technology. The Green Bank observatory combines an academic setting with a rural environment.
The Software Development Division at the Robert C. Byrd Green Bank Telescope (GBT) in Green Bank, WV, is seeking a Software Engineer to provide support for the scientists who use the GBT. The successful candidate will join a team of professionals engaged in research and development in the fields of science, engineering, software development, and education. Work will likely be directed initially toward improvements in the post-observing data analysis and reduction software, as well as developing data reduction and analysis software infrastructure for existing instrumentation.
A minimum of a B.S. degree in astronomy, physics, computer science, or related field is required. Advanced education or other acquired background in radio astronomy, physics, astronomical data reduction, or spectroscopy is desirable, as is experience in IDL, object-oriented programming, and/or Python. Excellent verbal and written communication skills are required.
Applicants can apply online at https://careers.nrao.edu . Review of applications will begin immediately; however, applications will be accepted until the position has been filled. NRAO is an Equal Opportunity Employer - D/V/M/FBack to top.
7. ALMA Software Engineer, NRAO
From: Dee Boyd [dlboyd_at_nrao.edu]
The National Radio Astronomy Observatory is recruiting a Software Engineer II to assist the North American ALMA Science Center (NAASC) operations. The position is located at the Observatory’s headquarters in Charlottesville, Virginia.
The successful candidate will help evaluate, deploy, maintain, and write applications for the NAASC user portal and support the configuration and operation of the NRAO helpdesk. Will require constructively evaluating and leveraging existing NRAO web services and content, ALMA and NRAO prototypes, and new technologies. Duties will also include architectural design, development, and maintenance activities, in addition to working with stakeholders and users to articulate and elucidate requirements, and produce designs that support an integrated deployment of web-based applications throughout NRAO. Will also design, recommend and deploy strategies to integrate multiple web-based systems to support the diverse needs of the North American ALMA user community through a User Portal that is consistent in look, feel and message with the NRAO and ALMA User Portals; configure and customize forms for the NRAO helpdesk; maintain helpdesk implementation; understand technologies associated with authentication and single sign-on; manage and extend content management systems in support of the NAASC web site; formulate and operate a configuration management scheme for applications linked to the User Portal; interact with users, as needed, to assure that user needs are met by the User Portal implementation and its underlying applications.
Interested applicants may apply online at https://careers.nrao.edu and should include a resume and cover letter. Review of applicants will begin immediately; however, applications will be accepted until the position is filled. NRAO is an Equal Opportunity Employer M/F/D/V.Back to top.
8. Postdoctoral Position in Exoplanets, Wesleyan University
From: Seth Redfield [sredfield_at_wesleyan.edu]
Submit Resumes To: Seth Redfield
Email Submission Address: sredfield_at_wesleyan.edu Email Inquiries: sredfield_at_wesleyan.edu
The closing date for receipt of applications: 09/15/2009
Applications are invited for a postdoctoral position in exoplanets at Wesleyan University. The successful candidate will work in collaboration with Dr. Seth Redfield primarily on high resolution optical spectra of transiting exoplanets obtained with the 9.2-m Hobby-Eberly Telescope. The project is focused on characterizing the atmospheres of extrasolar planets using this rich observational dataset. Other related research areas of mutual interest may include gas absorption in edge-on debris disks and the structure of the local interstellar medium, using ground-based, Hubble, and Spitzer observations. Wesleyan has a Planetary Science Group that includes faculty from several departments. The successful candidate will be encouraged to interact with other faculty and to carry out independent research with full access to observational facilities available to Wesleyan. Experience with data reduction and analysis, high-resolution spectroscopy, and observational studies of exoplanets will be helpful. Applicants must have a Ph.D. in astronomy or astrophysics at the start of the appointment.
Wesleyan University is located between New York City and Boston, and has a small but active astronomy program, which emphasizes involvement of undergraduate and M.A. students in mainstream astronomical research. We are particularly interested in candidates who feel that they could both contribute to and flourish in this unique educational environment. The postdoc would have the opportunity, if desired, to take advantage of this setting to develop educational skills through mentoring students in research and possibly teaching. The position is available immediately, but the starting date is negotiable. Initial appointment would be for two years, although funding for at least one additional year is available. Applicants should send a cover letter, curriculum vitae, bibliography, statement of research experience and interests, and arrange for three letters of reference to be sent to the address above by 15 September 2009 for full consideration. Late applications will be considered until the position is filled.
Wesleyan University is an equal opportunity, affirmative action employer M/W/D/V and strongly encourages applications from women and minorities.
Included Benefits: The salary is competitive, and health and retirement benefits and travel allowance are provided. Please see the Wesleyan Benefits website for more information: http://www.wesleyan.edu/hr/benefits/benefitslandingpage.htmlBack to top.
9. How to Submit, Subscribe, or Unsubscribe to AASWOMEN
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If you experience any problems, please email itdept_at_aas.orgBack to top.
10. 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.