Friday, May 29, 2009

AASWOMEN Newsletter 05/29/09

AAS Committee on the Status of Women
Issue of May 29, 2009
eds. Joan Schmelz, Caroline Simpson & Michele Montgomery

This week's issues:

1. New Funding Agency ARPA-E

2. "Discoveries in Planetary Science" Classroom Powerpoints

3. A Letter to A Daughter

4. Publications on Mentoring Women Faculty

5. Women in Astronomy: A Resource Guide

6. Women in Astronomy and Space Science Meeting

7. Educator Science Showcase Workshops and Spitzer Travel Grant

8. 4th Heidelberg Summer School: Statistical Inferences from Astrophysical Data

9. Visiting Assistant Professor of Astronomy - Missouri State University

10. Visiting Assistant Professor in Astronomy/Astrophysics - Ohio University

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

12. Access to Past Issues of AASWOMEN


1. New Funding Agency ARPA-E
From: arpa-e.energy.gov

Advanced Research Project Agency for Energy (ARPA-E) has been created to identify technologies with the potential to reduce energy imports from foreign sources; reduce energy-related greenhouse gas emissions; improve efficiency across the energy spectrum; and to ensure USA remains a technological leader in developing and deploying advanced energy technologies. This new agency is modeled after the very successful defense agency DARPA. This new agency is tasked with funding "game changing," high-risk projects that will promote major changes in how USA generates and distributes energy. More information can be found at

http://arpa-e.energy.gov .

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2. "Discoveries in Planetary Science" Classroom Powerpoints
From: AAS Electronic Announcement #196 - May 2009

The Education Subcommittee of the AAS Division for Planetary Sciences announces the inaugural release of "Discoveries in Planetary Science" Classroom Powerpoints. These are succinct summaries of discoveries too recent to appear in "Intro Astronomy" college textbooks; each set consists of just three slides to be shown: the discovery itself, a basic explanation based on good planetary science, and the "big picture" context. Another page for further information is provided as well. The first set covers Mars Methane, Extrasolar Planet Imaging, The Chaotic Early Solar System, Mars Sulfur Chemistry, and Mercury Volcanism. Powerpoints and pdf's can be downloaded from

http://dps.aas.org/education/dpsdisc .

Planetary scientists with recent or upcoming results of broad interest are encouraged to submit them for consideration by providing an initial draft using the template provided on the website. For more information, contact Nick Schneider & Dave Brain at dpsdisc_at_aas.org.

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3. A Letter to A Daughter
From: Hannah at Women in Astronomy blog, May 24, 2009

In case you haven't been following Dr. Isis' Letters to Our Daughters Project, this is me telling you that you should.

read more: http://womeninastronomy.blogspot.com/2009/05/letter-to-daughter.html

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4. Publications on Mentoring Women Faculty
From: Michele Montgomery [montgomery_at_physics.ucf.edu]

A detailed list of publications on mentoring women faculty, including mentoring junior women faculty for professional development and retention, can be found at

http://www.crlt.umich.edu/faculty/facment_group.php#women .

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5. Women in Astronomy: A Resource Guide
From: IYA2009

A Chinese proverb says "Women hold up half the sky" and celebrating the contributions of women to astronomy can be a good way to give that proverb deeper meaning. For much of history, women with an interest in the universe were kept out of astronomy (as they were out of most professional fields) and they were restricted to helping their husbands or brothers in their scientific pursuits. But this has changed dramatically in the last century, and many of the most important posts in astronomy have been held by women and many key discoveries have been made by them.

400 Years of the Telescope features interviews with Catherine Cesarsky, the President of the International Astronomical Union (which is the U.N. of astronomers); Wendy Freedman, the astronomer who worked with the Hubble Space Telescope to pin down the age of the expanding universe; and Claire Max, who heads the Center for Adaptive Optics (helping astronomer get a clearer view of the sky).

For those who want to explore the contributions of women to astronomy in more detail, we list some general resources and then some articles and books that can help you understand the specific work of a few selected women astronomers. (Note that a number of books for younger readers are included in section 1.)

Download the Women in Astronomy resource guide here:

http://www.pbs.org/soptv/400years/resources/delving_deeper.php

Contributed by Andy Franknoi (Foothill College)

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6. Women in Astronomy and Space Science Meeting
From: IYA2009

Goddard Space Flight Center, along with co-hosts National Science Foundation, University of Maryland, AAS, STScI, NGST, and others, will be hosting a meeting October 21 - 23, 2009 at the University of Maryland Conference Center on the topic of women in astronomy and space science with a focus on not only gender, but also on generation and minorities. This meeting follows up on the "Women in Astronomy" meeting hosted by Space Telescope Science Institute in 1992 and the Pasadena meeting hosted by CalTech in 2003. The topics include: 1) statistics on the state of the field, establishing trends over the last 15 years including the "longitudinal studies" of age vs. makeup of the field and identifying areas for celebration or for concern; 2) research on the impact of gender/ generational/ cultural differences in the science workforce with a focus on practical solutions, 3) issues concerning the work environment and best practices for success of scientists in a diverse work force, and 4) special sessions on the issues of minorities in science, and women in Earth Science.

There is evidence for considerable success in increasing the percentage of women in the field of science and so we aim here to focus more on issues concerning the success of those in the field and solutions for managing a diverse workforce. This meeting will highlight best practices to help the diverse scientific work force to succeed, and will address both the junior members of the field, as well as those who mentor and manage today's diverse scientific workforce. We hope you will join us. Early registration begins June 15, 2009.

More about WIA 2009 can be found at

http://wia2009.gsfc.nasa.gov/

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7. Educator Science Showcase Workshops and Spitzer Travel Grant
From: Astronomical Society of the Pacific

The intersection in 2009 of the Year of Science, the International Year of Astronomy, and the 120th anniversary meeting of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific (ASP) provides a singular opportunity to showcase science and to provide professional development opportunities for those working on the front lines of science education and outreach. As part of the ASP's annual meeting, ASP is pleased to offer a series of workshops and events for K-12 teachers, informal educators, and amateur astronomers engaged in public outreach on the weekend prior to the start of the meeting, September 12-13, 2009, in Millbrae, California. The following four types of workshops are available as well as the day(s) they are offered:

Formal K-12 Educator Workshops (Sat/Sun) Informal Educator Workshops (Sat/Sun) Amateur Astronomer Workshops/Events (Sat/Sun) SETI Institute Speaker Series (Sun)

Information about each of the workshops and registration can be found at

http://www.astrosociety.org/events/2009mtg/workshops.html .

Thanks to the support of the Spitzer Space Center, a limited number of scholarships (of up to $300) are available to eligible participants to help defray their costs of attending the workshop. See the scholarship information page

http://www.astrosociety.org/events/2009mtg/scholarships.html

for eligibility and cost guidelines and for application instructions and deadlines. Information on ASP's annual meeting can be found at

http://www.astrosociety.org/events/meeting.html .

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8. 4th Heidelberg Summer School: Statistical Inferences from
Astrophysical Data
From: IMPRS Heidelberg

The 4th Heidelberg Summer School on Statistical Inferences from Astrophysical Data is to be held August 10-14, 2009. IMPRS Heidelberg invites graduate students and postdocs to its 4th Heidelberg Summer School. This year's school is centered on how to draw scientific inferences from astrophysical data sets. We will also discuss proper statistical methods that are crucial for testing specific astrophysical models.

The school will present essential statistical concepts and techniques. These concepts will be illustrated through various astrophysical examples. Approaches such as Monte Carlo, maximum likelihood techniques, Bayesian statistics, parametric tests, biases in censored/incomplete data, or time-series analysis will be applied in computer exercises.

The main lecturing program is presented by invited speakers and is accompanied by practical exercises and also science talks on specific topics by local experts.

Invited lecturers are:

--> David W. HOGG, New York University --> Ian McHARDY, University of Southampton --> William H. PRESS, University of Texas, Austin

Deadline for application is June 15, 2009.

Please find more information, our poster, and the application forms under

http://www.mpia.de/imprs-hd/ http://www.mpia.de/imprs-hd/SummerSchools/2009/

A limited number of grants are available to partially cover travel expenses of participants.

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9. Visiting Assistant Professor of Astronomy - Missouri State University
From: AAS JobRegister

The Department of Physics, Astronomy, and Materials Science at Missouri State University seeks applications for a one-year visiting assistant professor position. A Ph.D. in astronomy or a closely-related field is preferred. We seek an astronomer who has a strong commitment to undergraduate teaching and research projects. Duties would include teaching two sections of introductory astronomy (about 100 students each) each semester and maintaining (or beginning) a research program which can involve undergraduate students and make use of our local observatory with 0.4- and 0.36-m telescopes with CCD systems. Apply online at

http://www.missouristate.edu/academicopenings

with curriculum vita, cover letter, teaching and research statements, and names of three references. For more information about the Department, visit

http://physics.missouristate.edu/

or

http://physics.missouristate.edu/Astronomy.htm .

Submit Resumes To: Attention: Dr. Robert Patterson, Search Committee Chair Missouri State University 901 S. National Avenue Dept. of Physics, Astronomy & Materials Science Springfield, MO 65897 USA Tel: 417 836-5131 FAX: 417 836-6226

E-mail inquiries to astronomy_at_MissouriState.edu. Missouri State is an EO/AA Employer. Review of applications will begin May 22, 2009 and continue until June 8, 2009 or until the position is filled.

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10. Visiting Assistant Professor in Astronomy/Astrophysics - Ohio University
From: AAS JobRegister

The Department of Physics and Astronomy and Astrophysical Institute at Ohio University is seeking a Visiting Assistant Professor in Astronomy/Astrophysics. The individual hired to this position will be responsible for teaching one course per term during the three-quarter academic year, and will be expected to participate in the Astrophysical Institute?s public outreach and research activities. The appointment will begin September 1, 2009 for a period of one year, with renewal for additional years contingent on satisfactory performance and availability of funding.

Ohio University is a public institution with an enrollment of 21,000 students. The Department of Physics and Astronomy has 27 permanent faculty and offers undergraduate and graduate degrees, including a PhD in physics with a concentration in astrophysics. The University and the Department are committed to excellence in teaching at all levels. Ohio University is a partner in the MDM Observatory, and members of the Astrophysical Institute maintain a vigorous program of theoretical and multi-wavelength observational research.

Applicants for the position should have completed a PhD by September 2009 in astronomy or a closely related field. Applications should be submitted via email to Prof. Joseph Shields at shields_at_phy.ohiou.edu, and should include a cover letter with a statement of teaching interests, a curriculum vitae, and names of at least three individuals who can be contacted to provide letters of reference. Review of applications will begin May 15 and will continue until the position is filled. Ohio University is committed to quality, diversity, and equal opportunity.

E-mail inquiries to shields_at_phy.ohiou.edu. More information can be found at

http://www.phy.ohiou.edu .

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

[Please remember to replace "" in the below e-mail addresses.]

To submit to AASWOMEN: send email to aaswomenaas.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

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12. Access to Past Issues of AASWOMEN

Past issues of AASWOMEN are available at

http://www.aas.org/cswa/AASWOMEN.html

Each annual summary includes an index of topics covered.

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Sunday, May 24, 2009

A Letter to A Daughter

In case you haven't been following Dr. Isis' Letters to Our Daughters Project, this is me telling you that you should.  Here's how she describes the project:

When I was a graduate student, I took a physiology class in which I was given the assignment to recreate my scientific family tree. When I did, I found that my family tree is composed some brilliant scientists. But, my family tree is also composed entirely of men, plus me. The same is true of the tree from my postdoc. I have scientific fathers, grandfathers, and great-grandfathers, but no aunts, grandmothers, or mothers. As I considered my career path in science, I found myself wanting and needing the perspective of more senior women scientists.

The inspiration for my Letters to Our Daughters Project comes from my hope that we can recreate our family tree here, creating a forum where the mothers and aunts in our fields (which I hope to not limit to physiology, but that's where I'll start because that's who I know) can share their wisdom with us. I think there is a wealth of information among these successful women and I hope to use this forum to share it with young scientists who are yearning for that knowledge.

I was extremely flattered when Dr. Isis asked me to contribute a letter to her Project, because I totally worship her blog.  She's funny and smart and pulls no punches when she takes on the patriarchy.  (Also, she's totally hot.) However, as much as I love her, I'm not going to abandon my sensible shoes any time soon.  Anyway, when a Goddess asks you for something, you do it! Here's the link to my letter at her blog, and I'm cross-posting it below:

I have no daughters, either in my personal life (my kids are boys) or in my academic life (no advisees yet), but it's fun to imagine that I might have a daughter one day.  So here is my letter to my hypothetical daughter in astronomy.


Dear Daughter,

For some reason, despite not having quite made it being faculty yet, people (i.e. Isis) seem to think I have words to wisdom to impart.  See, I'm a little reluctant to give out advice because I realize that everyone is different.  What worked for me might not work for you.  On the other hand, I might be able to point you to the friend of a friend of a friend of mine who can better relate to you.  

So here's my advice: you are not alone.  Whatever it is you're going through, you're almost certainly not the first.  Sure, there may not be many other women in astronomy in your situation, but if you look around, maybe you'll find a woman in mathematics or physiology who has gone through or is going through the same thing.  

The example from my own life that comes to mind is when I decided to have children in grad school.  It was the right decision for me, but at the time I felt like I was the only woman astronomer in the world who had chosen to get pregnant while still a student.  Certainly, I was the first woman grad student in my department to have children and not drop out.  Meanwhile, all my friends outside astronomy who were having kids were becoming stay-at-home moms.  I felt alone and scared and uncertain in spite of the support I received from my advisor, my department, and my fellow grad students.  Everyone was so nice to me, and yet I didn't think they could truly empathize with me.

One day, during the final months of finishing my thesis or possibly after (my memory of that time period is pretty hazy), a senior research astronomer dropped by my office.  She had seen me going around with my babies from time to time, and she told me that she had decided to have kids during grad school, too.  She congratulated me on both the kids and making it through grad school, and gave me encouragement to keep on going.

Since then, I have found other women who have had babies in grad school and continued on to successful careers.  (Vera Rubin, for example.)  It made such a difference to know that other people had done what I was trying to do, and to know that it was possible to make it work.  It might be hard, but at least it was possible.  And I seem to have set an example for other people myself: I know of at least one other student from my grad department who chose to start her family before graduating. 

So work your network.  Remember, networking is not just about buttering up muckity-mucks to increase your profile.  It's also about getting to know people who share your experiences, and also about simply making friends.  Academia can be very isolating, especially if you're part of a minority group, like a woman or a mother.  Luckily, in this day and age the internet makes it so much easier to connect to other people.  I wish blogs like Isis' had been around when my kids were born.  Don't be afraid to reach out for help or advice.  Those of us who know what it feels like to be alone are happy to help you out.  

Best of luck to you,
-Hannah

Friday, May 22, 2009

AASWomen for May 22, 2009

AAS Committee on the Status of Women
Issue of May 22, 2009
eds. Joan Schmelz, Caroline Simpson & Michele Montgomery

This week's issues:

1. Women (and Other Minorities) in Science and Engineering: A Personal Perspective

2. New Study Ponders the Effect of Professors' Gender on Students' Success in Science

3. Negotiating the Ideal Faculty Position - Workshop

4. Sue V. Rosser to be Provost at SFSU

5. Astronomer in the Classroom

6. Astronomy Blogger for July

7. Meet the Scientist

8. Short Survey: Leaving One Job for Another

*** FOLLOWING POSITIONS TAKEN FROM WIPHYS ***

9. Gus Weiss Professorship in Theoretical Physics, George Washington

University

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

11. Access to Past Issues of AASWOMEN


1. Women (and Other Minorities) in Science and Engineering: A Personal Perspective
From: Andrea Dupree [adupree_at_cfa.harvard.edu]

Professor Kathryn Johnston of Columbia University gave a special seminar at CfA on Tuesday, May 12, 2009: Women (and Other Minorities) in Science and Engineering: A Personal Perspective. According to Johnston: This seminar consists of a set of slides summarizing what I have learned (through committee work and attending talks) about the social and psychological science literature that might be relevant to understanding the slow progress of women in science. My intention is not to give a thorough review (my field is Local Group Science) but rather to use the slides as a starting point for discussion.

The slides are available here:

http://www.cfa.harvard.edu/cfawis/kathryn_johnston.pdf

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2. New Study Ponders the Effect of Professors' Gender on Students' Success in Science
From: WIPHYS May 19, 2009

Female students -- or, more specifically, female Air Force cadets -- are more likely to succeed in introductory-level science courses if those courses are taught by female professors, according to a study by a trio of economists. The researchers examined the academic records of every student who graduated from the U.S. Air Force Academy from 2000 to 2008 -- more than 9,000 students in all. They found that women, and especially those with high mathematics-SAT scores, performed significantly better in introductory science courses if women taught the courses.

http://chronicle.com/news/article/6492/new-study-ponders-professors-gender-and-students-success-in-science

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3. Negotiating the Ideal Faculty Position - Workshop
From: Maryam Modjaz [mmodjaz_at_astro.berkeley.edu]

A recent study of diversity in engineering notes that “the most accurate predictor of subsequent success for female undergraduates is the percentage of women among faculty members at their college” (Trowers and Chait; Harvard Magazine, 104:33, 2002). At Rice University we are strongly committed to increasing the diversity of science and engineering faculty and students. As part of this goal we are sponsoring an exciting workshop for senior women graduate students and post-docs who are interested in pursuing an academic career. The workshop, Negotiating the Ideal Faculty Position, (October 18-19, 2009), is designed to provide participants hands-on experience to enhance their knowledge of and ability to find the right faculty position. Through support from the National Science Foundation (NSF) ADVANCE Institutional Transformation Award, all travel, meals, and lodging costs will be provided for workshop participants. Applications are due August 13. The online application can be found at

http://advance.rice.edu/negotiatingtheidealfacultyposition/form_intro.cfm

Topics Covered in Negotiating the Ideal Faculty Position Workshop 1. Finding the right institutional fit 2. Understanding what a search committee looking for 3. Putting together a successful faculty application 4. Standing out in the interview 5. Maximizing the impact of your interview seminar 6. Negotiating a good start up package 7. Finding out about the culture of the department & college 8. Choosing good collaborators 9. Obtaining funding 10. Building your lab/research program 11. Understanding the tenure process 12. Balancing work and family

Please pass this information on to qualified female candidates who are interested in an academic career.

Thank you, Jan Rinehart Executive Director NSF ADVANCE Program

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4. Sue V. Rosser to be Provost at SFSU
From: WIPHYS May 19, 2009

> From the Chronicle of Higher Education: "A New Provost Promotes > Diversity and Women in the Sciences". Sue V. Rosser, who will > become provost of San Francisco State University on August 15, has > built a career around her passion for women's issues, in particular > the participation of women in science.

http://chronicle.com/temp/email2.php?id=BkcMhrrgWgtyWvhbrkdygkRpzbtVKhrc

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5. Astronomer in the Classroom
From: Andrea Schweitzer [schweitz_at_frii.com]

The Astronomer in the Classroom program needs your help; please take a look at the website and sign up to help our youth learn more about astronomy and all the different fields of research.

www.astronomerintheclassroom.org

For more information, please contact:

Anita Ingrao Interstellar Studios 11 Ilahee Lane Chico, California 95973 (530) 343 5635 anita_at_interstellarstudios.com

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6. Astronomy Blogger for July
From: Andrea Schweitzer [schweitz_at_frii.com]

We are building a grassroots collaborative Web site, the Year of Science 2009:

http://www.yearofscience2009.org

where we highlight -- according to 12 scientific themes -- who scientists are, why science matters, and how science works. Each months' content begins with a series of blog postings from a great science communicator talking about the importance of the theme to our society and lives. Thus far, our guest bloggers have included individuals like Carl Zimmer of Discover Magazine and Steve Mirsky of Scientific American.

The July blogger would focus on the theme "Why We are Celebrating Astronomy". The sum request for participation is to write a series of blog posts (at least one per week) during the month of July with a minimum length of 400-500 words per posting. The first posting would be due June 27th. The target audience is the general public, and the site is being promoted through schools, libraries, participating organizations, science bloggers, and public broadcast orgs.

If you have any questions, please contact:

Sheri Potter COPUS Network Project Manager 941-923-6320 c. 941-321-1573 spotter_at_aibs.org

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7. Meet the Scientist
From: Andrea Schweitzer [schweitz_at_frii.com]

We are currently seeking to identify four scientists that will be featured on our Meet the Scientist page in August. See our January highlighted scientists here for an example:

http://www.yearofscience2009.org/themes_process_nature/meet-scientists/

The types of individuals we are looking for would be: - active scientists - represent diversity of fields of study with respect to the months theme -- energy - represent diversity of personality, background, and culture

The commitment to serve as a meet the scientist is a small one -- requiring about a half hour of time now and another half hour the third week of the month.

If you would please take a moment to consider who might be a good candidate for this activity and share your recommendations with us, we would be very appreciative! We would like to confirm all four scientists this week.

For more information, please contact:

Sheri Potter COPUS Network Project Manager 941-923-6320 c. 941-321-1573 spotter_at_aibs.org

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8. Short Survey: Leaving One Job for Another
From: WIPHYS May 20, 2009

I'm writing to ask you if you would be willing to participate in a study that I am conducting at Rice University.

It is important research and is attempting to understand the experiences and decision-making processes that occur when talented faculty voluntarily decide to leave their academic institutions and go elsewhere (e.g., either another academic institution or a nonacademic alternative).

If you have EVER been employed at one university/college and voluntarily left this one for another academic (or nonacademic) job (not just those who left for another job, those who left and stopped working should be included as well), you are eligible to take part. In taking part in the survey, you should consider the most recent academic job you left and why you decided to leave that institution. We are NOT interested in the experiences of those who retired or reached the end of a predetermined contract.

The survey takes 15-20 minutes to complete and is located at:

http://www.surveymonkey.com/s.aspx?sm=AZLp0HbOdJSY97nrZ6pePA_3d_3d

The survey has been approved by Rice University's Institutional Review Board.

Thank you so much for possibly being willing to help our team of researchers.

Jan Rinehart, Executive Director Advance Program PO Box 1892-MS 105 Rice University Houston, Texas 77251-1892 713-348-3345 jan.rinehart_at_rice.edu

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9. Gus Weiss Professorship in Theoretical Physics, George Washington
University
From: WIPHYS May 19, 2009

The George Washington (GW) University Department of Physics seeks outstanding candidates for its newly created endowed professorship in energy research, the Gus Weiss Professorship in Theoretical Physics. Energy is among the research focus areas that GW has identified and the University has invested significantly in the establishment of a new interdisciplinary institute for energy research. The Gus Weiss Professor is a founding member of the institute and will play a central role in the realization of its scientific vision and in the planning of its growth through future hires.

The institute is one of a cluster of interrelated centers and institutes for advanced study at GW's Research and Technology Campus in Ashburn, Virginia, about 45 minutes from Washington, DC. The research programs at this campus support and interact with those at GW's main campus in Foggy Bottom. Within the institute, the Weiss Professorship is envisioned as the leader of the effort to link theoretical research from physics to help solve the energy and environmental problems facing the nation and the world in the coming century.

The overarching charge for the Gus Weiss Professor is to help develop the goals and future activity of an important institute defining a subject with great relevance and consequence to society. GW seeks an innovative, highly collaborative, and successful theoretical physicist whose interests focus on solving problems related to energy, for example the production, storage, and delivery of energy.

To apply: GW has retained Isaacson, Miller to assist in the search. Please send an electronic version of your Curriculum Vitae and cover letter, addressed to Dr. Barry Berman, Chair, Department of Physics, to pjaeger_at_imsearch.com . For any questions or to discuss the position, please contact Philip Jaeger, Managing Associate at Isaacson, Miller or Michael Baer, Vice President and Director. 202-216-2276.

The George Washington University is an equal opportunity, affirmative action employer and is strongly committed to diversity; women and minorities are especially encouraged to apply.

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10. 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

http://lists.aas.org/cgi-bin/mailman/listinfo/aaswlist

and fill out the form.

If you experience any problems, please email itdept_at_aas.org

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11. Access to Past Issues of AASWOMEN

Past issues of AASWOMEN are available at

http://www.aas.org/cswa/AASWOMEN.html

Each annual summary includes an index of topics covered.

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Thursday, May 21, 2009

Quick recommendations

Recommended reading: Lessons for Girls by Historiann.  (hat tip: YoungFemaleScientist, Zuska, and Sciencewoman)

Wednesday, May 27th at 6:30 PM at the Keck Center (Room# 100) of the National Academy of Sciences, Washington DC. RSVP by Monday, May 25th.

(Edited to add) Recommended twitter feed: @hannah_jc

Peer Mentoring

It's pretty well established that success as an academic scientist depends very much on good mentoring. Whether this comes informally (e.g. old boy's network) or formally (e.g. MentorNet) is irrelevant: the key is getting sound advice and the social and scientific connections that will help you succeed.

A few weeks ago, the topic of mentoring came up in conversation, and MentorNet was mentioned. One person interjected, "MentorNet is useless. They don't have nearly enough women scientists available as mentors."

Part of this is probably that there simply aren't that many women in science, especially at the higher levels. The higher up I get in my field, the fewer women I see above me. Also, senior women in science already get asked to do a lot of mentoring and outreach precisely because there are so few of them. It almost seems unfair to ask them to do more.

One might argue that men can be mentors just as well as women, but quite frankly, there are some things that women go through that men simply can't relate to. This is part of the motivation behind Dr. Isis' Letters to Our Daughter's Project, which she started because:

It's not a secret that the largest attrition among female scientists happens in the transition between trainee and faculty. I also think that, for better or worse, there are things that are unique to being a female scientist that affect the ability/willingness of women to pursue careers in science. I know from my time at ScienceBlogs that there is a large group of women who are eager for the perspectives of successful women scientists as they consider their own careers in science.


Mentoring from senior scientists is undeniably valuable. But personally, I've been starting to rely a lot more on what I think of as Peer Mentoring, but might also be called B!+ch Sessions. I often feel like I get more out of discussions with fellow postdocs who are facing the same situations I am, rather than relying on the advice of more senior people who were postdocs during a different era. Part of it is, as I said before, that there are fewer women ahead of me the higher up I go. This might simply be the fact that I myself am aging. Many of my cohorts from graduate school have transitioned to professorships or otherwise permanent positions. The people I might turn to for mentoring are getting closer in age to me anyway, so why not simply brainstorm with my peers.

Lately, I've been reading Every Other Thursday by Ellen Daniell, which is about her support group for women scientists. The women in her group met together regularly, and helped each other through their careers. I'm amused at this editorial review on Amazon:

But the book's real failing is that instead of addressing Group members' journeys through science as women, it focuses on the same career roadblocks, personal disasters and need for self-empowerment that one finds in any self-help book ("I am entitled to be myself. I'm entitled to be successful"). Rather than hard-nosed help for aspiring young women scientists, this book, while it includes interesting passages on the machinations of university politics, essentially offers material that should best have remained within the Group.

Just because self-empowerment is addressed in any number of self-help books doesn't mean it's any less relevant to women scientists. I get the feeling that this author has never faced debilitating Imposter Syndrome before.

While I think the idea of support groups for women in science is great, it only works if you live in a region with high PhD density. Daniell worked at Berkeley, where there are more universities per square foot than perhaps anywhere else in the country. What if you live in a big rectangular state and work in a department with only one woman? I don't have a good answer for that.

Well, at least there's always blogging...

Monday, May 18, 2009

AASWomen for May 15, 2009

AAS Committee on the Status of Women
Issue of May 15, 2009
eds. Joan Schmelz, Caroline Simpson & Michele Montgomery

This week's issues:

1. Supremely Ignored

2. Site Visits

3. M. Hildred Blewett Scholarship

4. Postdoctoral Fellowship In Astrophysics-PRINCETON UNIVERSITY

*** FOLLOWING POSITIONS TAKEN FROM WIPHYS ***

5. Job Opportunities at the IAEA

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

7. Access to Past Issues of AASWOMEN


1. Supremely Ignored
From: Hannah at Women in Astronomy blog

http://womeninastronomy.blogspot.com/2009/05/supremely-ignored.html

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2. Site Visits
From: Hannah at Women in Astronomy blog

http://womeninastronomy.blogspot.com/2009/05/site-visits.html

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3. M. Hildred Blewett Scholarship
From: WIPHYS April 22, 2009

The M. Hildred Blewett Scholarship for Women in Physics consists of an award of up to $45,000 to enable women to return to physics research careers after having had to interrupt those careers for family reasons. Details on the scholarship and how to apply can be found at http://www.aps.org/programs/women/scholarships/blewett/index.cfm Applications are due June 1, 2009.

Please share this information with a woman in physics who may be interested!

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4. Postdoctoral Fellowship In Astrophysics-PRINCETON UNIVERSITY
From: Mindy G. Lipman [lipman_at_princeton.edu]

Department of Astrophysical Sciences Princeton University Princeton, NJ 08544 USA Email Submission Address: postapp09_at_astro.princeton.edu Email Inquiries: jeremy_at_astro.princeton.edu

Attention: J. Jeremy Goodman, Professor, Astrophysical Sciences

The Department of Astrophysical Sciences, Princeton University, invites applications for a Postdoctoral Fellowship in Astrophysics. Half of the Fellow's effort will be numerical simulations and theoretical analyses in support of the Princeton Magnetorotational Experiment ( http://mri.pppl.gov ) in collaboration with Professor Jeremy Goodman and Principal Research Physicist Hantao Ji. The other half will be research at the Fellow's discretion but within computational astrophysics or plasma physics, as the position is supported in part by the NSF Center for Magnetic Self-Organization. Professor James Stone, in addition to Goodman and Ji, will participate in possible computational astrophysics projects. The start date can be as early as September 2009.

Appointments are for one year, renewable annually based on satisfactory performance, for a total of up to three years, funds permitting. Applicants should send a curriculum vitae, bibliography and statement of research interests, and arrange to have three letters of recommendation sent to the above electronic address. Applications will be reviewed beginning by July 1, 2009.

Princeton University is an equal opportunity employer and complies with applicable EEO and affirmative action regulations. For information about applying to Princeton and voluntarily self-identifying, please link to http://www.princeton.edu/dof/about_us/dof_job_openings/

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5. Job Opportunities at the IAEA
From: WIPHYS May 14, 2009

The latest job vacancies at the IAEA can be found at http://recruitment.iaea.org/phf/images/email/top_head.jpg . Should you know of potential candidates, please do not hesitate to share these vacancies with them. We particularly encourage women to apply. The full listing of open vacancies, as well as procedures for applying are available at http://www.iaea.org/About/Jobs .

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6. 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

http://lists.aas.org/cgi-bin/mailman/listinfo/aaswlist

and fill out the form.

If you experience any problems, please email itdept_at_aas.org

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7. Access to Past Issues of AASWOMEN

Past issues of AASWOMEN are available at

http://www.aas.org/cswa/AASWOMEN.html

Each annual summary includes an index of topics covered.

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Thursday, May 14, 2009

Site Visits

Do you think your department could use an external review of its climate for women? The American Physical Society (APS) has a whole program set up for conducting site visits. There's also a similar program directed toward the climate for minorites.

This way, if you're concerned that your department could use help identifying areas for improvement, you don't have to go and re-invent the wheel. This has been done before at number of different institutions. I'm only posting this now because I think people could use a reminder that such resources exist. If you go to the webpage about site visits, there's a number of links to resources, including compliations of best practices. The site visit team may be external, but the results of the visit are confidential.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Supremely Ignored

Following up on the discussion about being ignored both here on the blog and in AASWOMEN, here's an interesting article from last week in USA Today about Justice Ginsburg. (See also commentary from the XX factor at Slate.com.)

Much of the article is about Ginsburg's career history and strong opinions about having another woman on the Court, but this part sticks out:

"I don't know how many meetings I attended in the '60s and the '70s, where I would say something, and I thought it was a pretty good idea. … Then somebody else would say exactly what I said. Then people would become alert to it, respond to it."

Even after 16 years as a justice, she said, that still sometimes occurs. "It can happen even in the conferences in the court. When I will say something — and I don't think I'm a confused speaker — and it isn't until somebody else says it that everyone will focus on the point."


You'd think that in the 21st century and in the highest court in the land that being ignored for being a woman wouldn't be an issue. Then again, those of us familiar with being in a minority of around 11% (say, in certain physical sciences) might understand how it happen.

h/t to A, who keeps sending me such interesting articles!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Happy Mother's Day!

Don't forget to call your mom and wish her a Happy Mother's Day today!

A special Mother's Day wish goes out to all you Astronomy moms out there, too! This includes the ladies over at Astronomoms, especially newly-minted mom, AstronomyMommy!

What am I doing on my special day? Why, singing myself a Requiem, of course.

Friday, May 8, 2009

AASWOMEN Newsletter 05/08/09

AAS Committee on the Status of Women
Issue of May 8, 2009
eds. Joan Schmelz, Caroline Simpson & Michele Montgomery

This week's issues:

1. AASWomen Eileen Friel Named New Lowell Observatory Director

2. Sticks and Stones and Words Can All be Hurtful

3. H1N1 Virus & 214th AAS Meeting Update

4. Visiting Assistant Professor in Physics, Colgate University

5. Visiting Astronomy Instructor, Modesto Junior College

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

7. Access to Past Issues of AASWOMEN


1. AASWomen Eileen Friel Named New Lowell Observatory Director
From: Lowell Observatory

Dr. Eileen Friel has accepted the appointment by Observatory Trustee, William Lowell Putnam, to be the next Director of Lowell Observatory. Dr. Friel will become the tenth Director of the Observatory. To read more on the press release, see

http://www.spaceref.com/news/viewpr.html?pid=3D28121

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2. Sticks and Stones and Words Can All be Hurtful
From: Hannah at Women in Astronomy blog, May 6, 2009

http://womeninastronomy.blogspot.com/2009/05/sticks-and-stones-and-words-can-all-be.html

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3. H1N1 Virus & 214th AAS Meeting Update
From: AAS.org

At the present time, the AAS is closely monitoring the status of the H1N1 virus outbreak and any implications it may have for our upcoming June meeting in Pasadena. The government has not advised the public to limit or restrict travel, nor have they advised organizations to cease holding group functions.

For more information, see Scott Idem's blog at

http://aas.org/node/569

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4. Visiting Assistant Professor in Physics, Colgate University
From: Thomas Balonek [Tbalonek_at_mail.colgate.edu]

The Colgate University Department of Physics and Astronomy invites applications for a one-year visiting assistant professor position in physics to begin in fall 2009. A Ph.D. in physics or a related discipline is required, and previous teaching experience is an advantage. We seek a person with a strong commitment to undergraduate education. Academic responsibilities will primarily be teaching our introductory level physics courses for non-majors, with the option of an upper level course or a course in Colgate's Liberal Arts Core Curriculum. Although the candidate will have no research requirements during this appointment, collaboration with current faculty is possible. Colgate is a highly selective liberal arts university of 2800 students situated in a picturesque village in central New York. The department has nine faculty members and maintains well-equipped research laboratories in quantum and optical physics, condensed matter physics, and observational astronomy, located in the new Ho Science Center that is configured to facilitate interdisciplinary teaching and research.

Candidates should send a curriculum vitae plus a letter describing teaching experience and objectives, and a short description of research experience. The CV should include a publication list and the names of three individuals who have been asked by the candidate to send letters of recommendation. At least two letters should address the candidate's teaching qualifications, and one should address the candidate's research experience. All materials should be sent to Thomas Balonek, Department of Physics and Astronomy, Colgate University, 13 Oak Drive, Hamilton, NY 13346, tbalonek_at_mail.colgate.edu. Formal applications may be made by email (as pdf attachments) or regular mail. Email inquiries are welcome. Applications received by June 1, 2009 will receive full consideration; applications will be considered until the position is filled. Colgate is an Affirmative Action and Equal Opportunity Employer. Developing and sustaining a diverse faculty, student body, and staff further the University's educational mission.

Contact - Thomas Balonek, Chair Department of Physics and Astronomy Colgate University 13 Oak Drive Hamilton, NY 13346 Telephone - 315 228-7767 Email - TBalonek_at_mail.colgate.edu

http://departments.colgate.edu/physics/

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5. Visiting Astronomy Instructor, Modesto Junior College
From: Brian K. Sanders [sandersb_at_mjc.edu]

Modesto Junior College is seeking an Astronomy Instructor on a one-year basis for the 2009-10 academic year. However, the position may evolve into a full-time, tenure-track replacement starting in fall 2010.

Modesto Junior College has full astronomy classes, great community support, an active astronomy club. In addition, Modesto Junior College is building a brand new $70 million science building with two key architectural and programmatic details - a planetarium and an observatory dome! The building is slated to open in Fall 2011.

Note that the position closes on June 4.

Minimum qualifications include a master's degree in physics, astronomy, or astrophysics or bachelors in physics or astronomy with a master's in certain related areas - see link below for details.

The job posting can be found at

https://www.cccregistry.org/jobs/viewPosting.aspx?postingID=3D34189.

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

[Please remember to replace "" in the below e-mail addresses.]

To submit to AASWOMEN: send email to aaswomenaas.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

http://lists.aas.org/cgi-bin/mailman/listinfo/aaswlist

and fill out the form.

If you experience any problems, please email itdeptaas.org

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7. Access to Past Issues of AASWOMEN

Past issues of AASWOMEN are available at

http://www.aas.org/cswa/AASWOMEN.html

Each annual summary includes an index of topics covered.

Back to top.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Sticks and Stones and Words Can All Be Hurtful

A few weeks ago, I caught an extremely interesting NPR report about how langauge affects the way we think. It just so happens that I went to high school with Lera Boroditsky, whose research is profiled in the report, but that was only part of the reason I stopped to listen to it.

Dr. Boroditsky's experiment was to examine languages with gendered nouns: for example, German and Spanish. "Bridge" in German is "die brucke," a female noun, and in Spanish is "el puente," a male noun. When native German speakers were asked for adjective to describe a bridge, the responses included "fragile," "elegant", and "beautiful." Native Spanish speakers responded with "strong," "dangerous," and "long." I encourage you to go read or listen to the whole article, but Boroditsky's research basically shows how the language we use strongly affects the way we think about things. It also shows just how deeply embedded our conceptions of gender are.

So, if you think that teachers and nurses, for example, are mostly women, then you might think of them are being caring and nurturing. And if you think of scientists and engineers as mostly men, then you might think of them as ambitious and bold and daring. On the other hand, why can't teachers and nurses be strong and protecting and being leaders, and why can't scientists and engineers be creative and meticulous and elegant? The answer is, of course, that they can be all these things, just like a bridge can be fragile and strong and elegant and dangerous, all at once. Moreover, ambition and creativity and boldness and meticulousness are all positive qualities for scientists. The trouble is that our thinking about the professions I've mentioned is colored by our assumptions about gender roles. But just because women might approach their research a little differently from how a man might doesn't mean her science isn't any good. On the contrary, it opens whole new avenues of thinking that might have otherwise been overlooked. Also, ambition and daring are not the sole dominion of men, just as creativity and elegance are not the sole dominion of women.

I should also confess that although I'm aware that language is powerful, I'm not immune to falling into traps. The other day, I gave a practice talk and made a comment along the lines of "Man has always been interested in exploring the universe." A friend of mine, who happens to be male, chided me, suggesting I say "humans" rather than "Man." He's right of course. I knew as soon as the sentence escaped my lips that I had misspoken, and I should have gone back and corrected myself rather than going on. Keeping your language politically correct can be difficult and awkward, but given the importance of language to how we think about things, being PC seems worth the effort.

Friday, May 1, 2009

AASWOMEN for May 1, 2009

AAS Committee on the Status of Women
Issue of May 1, 2009
eds. Joan Schmelz, Caroline Simpson & Michele Montgomery

This week's issues:

1. History of Women in Astronomy – Part 2

2. Note on Beta Lyrae

3. Women in Early British and Irish Astronomy

4. Mothers in Science: 64 Ways to Have it All

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

6. Access to Past Issues of AASWOMEN


1. History of Women in Astronomy – Part 2
From: Joan Schmelz [jschmelz_at_memphis.edu]

[Several weeks ago, we featured several famous ‘computers’ from Harvard College Observatory. As these women began to retire, the next generation followed a new trail blazed by Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin – four of the earliest PhDs in Astronomy from Harvard-Radcliffe went to women! Their lives and careers took very different paths. Here are some highlights -- Eds.]

Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin (1900 - 1979) was born in England and studied at Cambridge University. Since Cambridge did not grant degrees to women at that time, she left in 1923 to work for Harlow Shapley, the director of the Harvard College Observatory. Shapley put the Harvard plate collection at her disposal. In 1925, she became the first person to earn a PhD in astronomy for her thesis: "Stellar Atmospheres, A Contribution to the Observational Study of High Temperature in the Reversing Layers of Stars". By applying the Saha equation, she was able to relate the spectral classes of stars to their temperatures. She showed that the variation in stellar absorption lines was due to differing amounts of ionization, not to different elemental abundances, and that stars were made primarily of hydrogen. Astronomer Otto Struve characterized it as "undoubtedly the most brilliant PhD thesis ever written in astronomy."

For more, see, e.g., http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cecilia_Payne-Gaposchkin

Emma Williams Vyssotsky (1894 -1975) was born in Philadelphia and received her PhD in 1930. She spent her career at the McCormick Observatory of the University of Virginia, where her specialty was motions of stars and kinematics of the galaxy. She married the Russian-born astronomer Alexander Vyssotsky in 1929 and had one son, Victor. She won the Annie J. Cannon Award in Astronomy in 1946. The asteroid 1600 Vyssotsky was named in her honor; it was discovered by Carl Wirtanen, who received his MS while working at McCormick Observatory.

For more, see, e.g., http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emma_Vyssotsky

Carol Anger Rieke (1908 – 1999) earned her PhD in 1933. She established the relationship between absorption line width and luminosity for A and B stars in M7 and the Pleiades. She compared the absolute and apparent magnitudes of these stars in 54 clusters to measure their distances. Her work inspired a newspaper article with the headline “Girl Measures Light from Stars,” but the real news, according to the article, was that a girl had done the work. She married in 1932 and followed her husband from city to city, eventually settling in Chicago where she raised her family and worked teaching mathematics and astronomy at a local community college.

For more, see, e.g., http://adsabs.harvard.edu/full/2000BAAS...32.1685R

Ellen Dorrit Hoffleit (1907 - 2007) was born in Alabama and earned her PhD in 1938. She was hired as an astronomer at Harvard in 1948 and moved to Yale in 1956. She was the author of the Bright Star Catalogue, a compendium of information on the brightest stars in the sky. She co-authored The General Catalogue of Trigonometric Stellar Parallaxes, which contains information critical to understanding the kinematics of the Milky Way and the evolution of the solar neighborhood. With Harlan Smith, Hoffleit discovered the optical variability of the first-discovered quasar 3C 273. She was a director of the Maria Mitchell Observatory on Nantucket Island. In 1988, Hoffleit was awarded the Biesbroeck Prize by the AAS for a lifetime of service to astronomy. She lived long enough to celebrate her 100th birthday.

For more, see, e.g., http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dorrit_Hoffleit

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2. Note on Beta Lyrae
From: Linda M. French [lfrench@iwu.edu]

I greatly enjoyed the brief biographies of pioneering women in astronomy in a recent email. Without quibbling, I'd like to point out one slight misstatement in the biography of Williamina Fleming. I am not an expert on Fleming, but the statement that she "...discovered...the first spectroscopic binary, Beta Lyrae" is not correct. The star, of course, was known far earlier, and its variability was established by John Goodricke of York, England, the discoverer of the periodicity of Algol and Delta Cephei. He reports on the star and gives a good estimate of its period in the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London, Vol. 75, (1785), pp. 153-164. Goodricke's accomplishments are even more impressive when one remembers that he was totally deaf and lived less than 22 years. I suspect the intent was to say that Fleming established the binary nature of Beta Lyrae through interpretation of spectroscopic data, a fine accomplishment in itself.

[Note: this was indeed the intent. The most challenging part of writing these biographies was to keep them short. There is so much to say about these amazing women! With this goal in mind, however, I was less precise in my wording than I might have been. The emphasis was intended to be on the _spectroscopic_ nature of the discovery -- Ed.]

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3. Women in Early British and Irish Astronomy
From: Geoff Clayton [gclayton@fenway.phys.lsu.edu]

Women in Early British and Irish Astronomy: Stars and Satellites By Mary BrĂ¼ck

Jointly published with the Royal Astronomical Society

Careers in astronomy for women (as in other sciences) were a rarity in Britain and Ireland until well into the twentieth century. The book investigates the place of women in astronomy before that era, recounted in the form of biographies of about 25 women born between 1650 and 1900 who in varying capacities contributed to its progress during the eighteenth, nineteenth, and early twentieth centuries. There are some famous names among them whose biographies have been written before now, there are others who have received less than their due recognition while many more occupied inconspicuous and sometimes thankless places as assistants to male family members. All deserve to be remembered as interesting individuals in an earlier opportunity-poor age. Placed in roughly chronological order, their lives constitute a sample thread in the story of female entry into the male world of science.

http://www.springer.com/astronomy/book/978-90-481-2472-5?token=dC6qWE2aEbM55Ab

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4. Mothers in Science: 64 Ways to Have it All
From: Hannah_at_Women in Astronomy Blog, April 26, 2009

Here is a review by Astronomum_at_Astronomoms of

Mothers in Science: 64 Ways to Have it All (available as a pdf download):

http://royalsociety.org/downloaddoc.asp?id=6151

I recently had my attention drawn to Mothers in Science: 64 Ways to Have it All, which is a Royal Society publication made up of one page career/family timelines and profiles of 64 different mothers in science.

The idea behind the book I think is a great one - that we spend a lot of time with depressing statistics about women in science, and often "blame" the disproportionate burden of childcare women often face for the lack of women at the higher levels of science. This has given young women the idea that if they want children they cannot have a science career, or that they must have children at only very specific times to succeed (I cannot count the number of times I have heard that having babies as a postdoc is a death sentence for your career). This book then presents a random selection of women with children who work in science as a move towards "dispelling these myths" and being more encouraging (it's all written a lot more fluently in the introduction to the book) . . .

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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

http://lists.aas.org/cgi-bin/mailman/listinfo/aaswlist

and fill out the form.

If you experience any problems, please email itdept_at_aas.org

Back to top.
6. Access to Past Issues of AASWOMEN

Past issues of AASWOMEN are available at

http://www.aas.org/cswa/AASWOMEN.html

Each annual summary includes an index of topics covered.

Back to top.