Issue of January 30, 2009
eds. Joan Schmelz, Caroline Simpson, & Michele Montgomery
This week's issues:
1. Women in Astronomy Blog Highlights Jan 23, 2009 - Leavitt Law
From: Joan Schmelz
The AAS Council recognized the 100th anniversary of Henrietta Leavitt?s first presentation of the Cepheid Period-Luminosity relation, a seminal discovery in astronomy that continues to have great significance. The Council was pleased to learn of a resolution adopted by the organizers of the Leavitt symposium, "Thanks to Henrietta Leavitt," held Nov. 6, 2008 at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, Cambridge, MA. There, it was suggested that this important relation now be referred to as the ?Leavitt Law.? The Council recognized that the AAS has no authority to define astronomical nomenclature, but it would be happy to see this designation used widely.
For details of the symposium, please see:Back to top.
2. Facebook Gets a New Member - Committee on the Status of Women in Astronomy
From: Geoff Clayton
[Become a Facebook fan of the Committee on the Status of Women in Astronomy at
and meet other fans.]Back to top.
3. President Barack Obama Signs Equal-Pay Bill
From: Philip Elliot, Associated Press
WASHINGTON (AP) ? President Barack Obama is signing into law an equal-pay bill that is popular with labor and women's groups and is expected to make it easier for workers to sue for decades-old discrimination.
Obama was to sign the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act on Thursday during an East Room ceremony, a move that effectively ends a 2007 Supreme Court decision that said workers had only 180 days to file a pay-discrimination lawsuit. Obama and fellow Democrats campaigned hard against the court decision and promised to pass legislation that would give workers more time to sue their employers for past discrimination.
"This bill will be a big step forward not just for women, but for families," the White House said in a statement announcing the bill signing. "It is not only a measure of fairness, but can be the difference for families struggling to make ends meet during these difficult times."
The law is named for a woman who said she didn't become aware of a pay discrepancy until she neared the end of her 19-year career at a Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. plant in Gadsden, Ala. She sued, but the Supreme Court in 2007 said she missed her chance.
The court said in a 5-4 ruling that a person must file a claim of discrimination within 180 days of a company's initial decision to pay a worker less than it pays another worker doing the same job. Under the new bill, given final passage in Congress this week, every new discriminatory paycheck would extend the statute of limitations for another 180 days.
Congress attempted to update the law to extend the time, but the Bush White House and Senate Republicans blocked the legislation in the last session of Congress
Opponents contended the legislation would gut the statute of limitations, encourage lawsuits and be a boon to trial lawyers. They also argued that employees could wait to file claims in hopes of reaping larger damage awards. The bill does not change current law limiting back pay for claimants to two years.
Obama, who took office on Jan. 20, spoke strongly in support of it during his campaign and the Democratic-controlled Congress moved it to the top of the agenda for the new session that opened this month.
Obama aides said Ledbetter would attend the bill signing ceremony in the East Room, followed by a separate reception with first lady Michelle Obama.
The Ledbetter bill focuses on pay and other workplace discrimination against women. The Census Bureau last year estimated that women still receive only about 78 cents for every dollar that men get for doing equivalent jobs. But the measure, which amends the 1964 Civil Rights Act, also applies to discrimination based on factors such as race, religion, national origin, disability or age.
Ledbetter was a tireless spokeswoman for the law and Obama's candidacy. She addressed the Democratic National Convention in Denver last year and traveled to Washington aboard Obama's train for the inauguration ceremonies. The law will not help Ledbetter recover any money; instead, she said she owed it to other women to champion the cause.
"There will be a far richer reward if we secure fair pay," she said in Denver. "For our children and grandchildren, so that no one will ever again experience the discrimination that I did."Back to top.
4. Chronicle of Higher Education article: "U.S. Supreme Court Rules
Against Limiting Title IX Lawsuits" by Eric Kelderman
From: The Chronicle of Higher Education, January 21, 2009
Washington ? A unanimous Supreme Court today ruled against imposing more limits on sexual-discrimination and sexual-harassment lawsuits.
Today?s decision overturns a ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, in Fitzgerald v. Barnstable School Committee. The appeals court found that lawsuits filed under Title IX, the 1972 law that prohibits sex discrimination at institutions that receive federal funds, could not also include claims of civil-rights violations under a Civil War-era federal law, Section 1983, that enforces the equal-protection clause of the 14th Amendment to the Constitution.
But Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr., who wrote the opinion for all nine justices, said that the two statutes were not mutually exclusive because each offers different protections and penalties. Claims under Section 1983 can be filed against individuals, for example, while Title IX lawsuits can be filed only against institutions.
?Because Title IX?s protections are narrower in some respects and broader in others than those guaranteed under the equal-protection clause, the court cannot agree with the First Circuit that Congress saw Title IX as the sole means of correcting unconstitutional gender discrimination in schools,? Justice Alito wrote.
The original suit had been filed by the parents of a kindergarten student in Hyannis, Mass., who charged that a third-grader had repeatedly forced their daughter to expose herself to him and to other students on a school bus during a six-month period in the 2000-1 school year.
A federal district-court judge in Massachusetts ruled that the student had faced sexual harassment that was ?severe and pervasive? but that the school had not violated Title IX because the harassment stopped after school officials found out about the misconduct. The judge also dismissed the parents? claims, under the equal-protection clause, ?that the school discriminated on the basis of sex in both the investigation and proposed remedy.? A three-judge panel of the appeals court upheld the lower court?s rulings.
Now that the U.S. Supreme Court has reversed the appeals court?s decision, the lower courts will still have to decide on the merits of the parents? charges of constitutional violations under the equal-protection clause.
The American Association of University Professors had signed on to a friend-of-the-court brief in support of the plaintiffs, who wanted the Supreme Court to overturn the appeals-court decision. Other groups that supported the plaintiffs include the American Bar Association, the American Civil Liberties Union, and the National Women?s Law Center. ?Eric KeldermanBack to top.
5. AWIS Press Release - Elsevier Grant on Leading Women to Create
Their Own Personal Work/Life Balance
From: AWIS Jan. 2009
The Association for Women in Science (AWIS) has received a three-year grant from the Elsevier Foundation in the amount of $105,000 for a new project: "AWIS Leading Women to Create Their Own Personal Work/Life Balance."
The grant will be used to develop an educational/support program, including a toolkit with supplementary resources and extended coaching to enable AWIS' 51 chapters around the county to help early-to mid-career women in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) learn to effectively manage their personal and professional lives. Building on an established network, this three year project will address the critical career points when women's attrition from STEM fields is highest.
"Significant progress has been made in improving the status of women within the scientific workforce over the past 30 years, particularly in regards to training," said Janet Bandows Koster, AWIS executive director. "At each stage of advancement, however, from postdoctoral training to first position to tenure and beyond, the proportion of women represented drops off substantially." According to a 2007 report by the National Academy of Sciences, this exodus is linked to issues related to starting a family and inability to establish a satisfactory work/life balance.
AWIS will launch the Personal Work/Life Balance program with a workshop titled "Learn to Juggle Without Joining the Circus: Strategies to Deal with Your Career and Work-Life Balance Challenges." The event takes place on Monday, February 16, 2009 from 7:30 am - 11:30 am at the Hyatt Regency Chicago, in conjunction with the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).Back to top.
6. Increased Funds for Childcare at APS Meetings
From: WIPHYS Jan. 27, 2009
The Committee on the Status of Women in Physics is pleased to announce that it has received a grant from the Elsevier Foundation's New Scholars program which will allow it to make awards of up to $400 to APS meeting attendees who are bringing small children or who incur extra expenses in leaving them at home (i.e., extra daycare or babysitting services). Details at
(March meeting, Pittsburgh) and
(April meeting, Denver).
The grant from Elsevier augments existing funds from the APS and allows the committee to increase both the number and the amount of the awards.Back to top.
7. Research Internship for Undergraduate Women
From: WIPHYS Jan. 26, 2009
Information on the 2009 APS/IBM Research Internship for Undergraduate Women is now available! These summer internships are salaried positions typically 10 weeks long, and include in addition a $2,500 grant, plus the opportunity to work with a mentor at one of three IBM research locations. Applications must be submitted by February 15, 2009. Complete details on the program and how to apply are available atBack to top.
8. APS March Meeting Special Events
From: WIPHYS Jan. 27, 2009
The Committee on the Status of Women in Physics is sponsoring or co-sponsoring a variety of special events on Tuesday, March 17 at the APS March annual meeting in Pittsburgh, PA.
1) CSWP/FIAP Networking Breakfast for Women in Physics (7:30-9:30 am, Westin Hotel) Full buffet breakfast and an informal speaker. Both men and women are welcome to attend. Pre-registration by March 2 is strongly encouraged
2) Panel Discussion J4: Around the World in 180 Minutes, (11:14 am - 2:15 pm, Convention Center) Sponsored by the Committee on the Status of Women in Physics and the Forum on International Physics.
3) COM/CSWP Reception (6:00 pm - 7:30 pm, Westin Hotel). Learn about the work of the Committee on Minorities in Physics and the Committee on the Status of Women in Physics, network with colleagues, and unwind after a long day of sessions. All are welcome to join us.Back to top.
9. Associate Project Scientist, James Webb Space Telescope
From: Jonathan Gardner [jonathan.p.gardner_at_nasa.gov]
The Observational Cosmology Laboratory of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center invites applications for a civil service astrophysicist position in astronomical instrumentation. The successful candidate will join the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) project science team as the Associate Project Scientist for Assembly, Integration, Test and Commissioning (I&T) of the observatory [at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center].
The successful candidate will work with the JWST project team to validate the instrumentation, telescope and observatory as they undergo I&T, paying particular attention to the thermal design. The incumbent will also carry out a program of scientific research relevant to the JWST science objectives.
Desired qualifications include a PhD degree, a scientific publication record in astronomy and/or astronomical instrumentation and experience working with cryogenic space-flight mission hardware. The appointment will be made at the GS-14 or GS-15 level within the US government civil service.
For more information, see the AAS job bulletin position 25420 or contact Jonathan Gardner at 301-286-3938 or jonathan.p.gardner_at_nasa.gov. NASA is an Equal Employment Opportunity employer and a diversity of candidates is sought. Expressions of interest are due Feb. 28, 2009; additional application materials will be required. US Citizenship is required.Back to top.
10. Full-time (Tenure Track) positions in Astronomy, LOS RIOS
Community College District
From: The Chronicle of Higher Education
The Los Rios Community College District's four colleges [American River College, Cosumnes River College, Folsom Lake College, Sacramento City College] serve the greater Sacramento region. With a student population of approximately 90,000 and a service area of 2,400 square miles, the District is the second largest in California and is one of the top statewide in transferring students to the UC and CSU systems. In addition, the district provides 76 two-year vocational programs and 63 technical certificate programs. Our District offers excellent salaries and benefits and encourages and promotes the continuous professional development of all. Los Rios Community College District is a past recipient of the Sacramento Workplace Excellence Leader Award.
LRCCD is currently recruiting for the following, full-time, tenure-track faculty positions: Astronomy [among many others]. For details, see
for indepth job descriptions and instructions for applying online. EOE.Back to top.
11. How to Submit, Subscribe, or Unsubscribe to AASWOMEN
[Please remember to replace "_at_" in the below e-mail addresses.]
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.
12. 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.