Friday, March 26, 2010

AASWOMEN for March 26, 2010

AAS Committee on the Status of Women
Issue of March 26, 2010
eds. Joan Schmelz, Caroline Simpson amp; Michele Montgomery

This week's issues:

1. Anonymous Request for Advice

2. Summit on Gender and the Postdoctorate II

3. Women Making Gains on Faculty at Harvard

4. Inspiring Women in Science

5. Progress, but Long Way to Go for Women in Science

6. Juggling Books and Babies

7. NASA Planetary Science Summer School

8. Women of Color Awards

9. Factors that Encourage and Discourage Women and Minorities in Pursuing STEM Careers

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

11. Access to Past Issues of AASWOMEN


1. Anonymous Request for Advice
From: Anonymous Female Astro PhD Student

[Please send advice to aaswomen_at_aas.org -- Eds.]

I'm a late-type graduate student who is suffering from what seems to be an incredibly hostile relationship and I don't know what to do. I am about a year from graduating and my relationship with my advisor is complicated at best and toxic at worst. My decision to work with this person was probably ill-advised, but I am not in a position to start over.

I understand that getting a Ph.D. is full of struggles, but for some reason, mine seems to have had more landmines than are typical. For instance, a friend of mine overheard one of the professors in our department talking with someone about my advisor's fascination with my breasts, at an astronomy conference. I fight tooth and nail to be taken seriously by my advisor, while my position is undermined by other people "of power" reducing me to a body part: my breasts. The actions of this professor are beyond inappropriate, but he is not who I have to deal with every day, and is not someone that has any say in my graduation or my success. My advisor is.

Truth be told, my advisor has a history. I have only seen glimpses of his past, from asides from other women ("oh, is he still chasing all of the female grad students?") to innuendos made to other grad students, but never anything overt dealing with me. At the same time, being around him has made me feel creepy from time to time. As such, I go out of my way to wear baggy clothes and avoid anything form fitting. I've done this since undergrad. I would notice once in a while that advisor's attention was not fully on me, and would readjust the way my shirt was hanging or put a pullover over it, or would laugh uncomfortably to a subtle sexual joke (they happened occasionally) but I was not willing to assume that he wasn't trying to behave more appropriately, and if anything had ever been overt, I would have not let it slide. The caveat is that unless things are completely overt, I tend not to notice them.

I'm scared that reporting this will get me a "cage rattler" reputation. I really want to continue on in academia, and know this would be a serious blow to that goal. In order to harbor a better relationship with my advisor, I've taken to acting more bubbly and feminine. It seems to have smoothed over our interactions, but I can't believe that I am putting on this mask to placate an advisor who seems to be extra sensitive to me disagreeing or acting strong, adding this new development to everything else, this "tactic" is even more worrisome. I now feel undressed by him. How can I have any normal interactions with someone that I now worry is undressing and objectifying me?

I have no idea what to do, and am sort of paralyzed by anger by the whole thing. I want to be a scientist, and know that speaking up will jeopardize that. If I could, I would just ignore this all, put my head down, but I'm so buried in the non-science part of being a graduate student that I am having a really hard time dissociating the science from all this other baggage.

AASWOMEN, I could really use your help and advice.

Thanks for listening.

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2. Summit on Gender and the Postdoctorate II
From: Hannah_at_Women in Astronomy Blog

http://womeninastronomy.blogspot.com/2010/03/summit-on-gender-and-postdoctorate-vol_22.html

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3. Women Making Gains on Faculty at Harvard
From: Joan Schmelz [jschmelz_at_memphis.edu]

An article by Tamar Lewin appeared recently in the NY Times on Women at Harvard:

Five years after Lawrence H. Summers, then the president of Harvard University, suggested that innate differences might explain why women are less successful in science and math careers than men, Harvard is, in some ways, a different place.

Lawrence H. Summers, now a White House adviser, resigned from Harvard in 2006. Professors can get up to $20,000 to help pay for child care, there are new programs to encourage young women to pursue science and research careers, and seven of the 16 members of Harvard’s Council of Deans are now women.

“This is not your father’s Harvard,” said Martha Minow, dean of the law school.

For the remainder of the article, please see:

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/13/education/13harvard.html?src=me

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4. Inspiring Women in Science
From: Joan Schmelz [jschmelz_at_memphis.edu]

An article by Meg Lowman appeared recently in the Herald-Tribune on famous women in science:

Marie Curie tops a poll of inspiring women in science. Curie, along with husband Pierre, first isolated the two radioactive elements radium and plutonium. She was born Marie Sklodowska in Warsaw in 1867. Each year, in my Conservation Biology class at New College, I conduct a pre-quiz to assess student knowledge of the sciences. One question asks students to name three famous women scientists, as well as three famous male scientists. The list of men is consistently filled with a diverse New College attracts the top students throughout Florida and the country, almost none can list three women scientists. More than 80 percent fail to list even one.

Approximately 15 percent cite Marie Curie, and usually a handful proudly scribble Jane Goodall. Rachel Carson gets an occasional mention, and a few individuals write down the name of their professor (likely the most savvy students hoping to earn a higher grade?).

Most high school -- as well as college -- textbooks give many more examples of distinguished male scientists than females. Although more men than women have historically pursued science, female students need role models to inspire career choices. This may in part explain why women still fall significantly behind as compared to their male counterparts in many science-based careers.

For the remainder of the article, please see:

http://www.heraldtribune.com/article/20100315/COLUMNIST/3151002/2127?Title=Inspiring-women-in-science

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5. Progress, but Long Way to Go for Women in Science
From: Joan Schmelz [jschmelz_at_memphis.edu]

An article by Denise Linke appeared recently in the Chicago Sun-Times on women majoring in science:

More American high school and college women are majoring in sciences than ever before.

But businesses and government agencies must do more to keep women in science classes and get them into the workforce, sociologist Sandra Hanson said during a Women's History Month lecture at Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory.

"We are definitely making progress, but women remain under-represented in science and science education," Hanson declared. "Women earned 20 percent of the Ph.D. degrees in engineering (in 2006), but they represented only 12 percent of employed engineers."

Physicist Sharon Lackey, who introduced Hanson, agreed that sciences are no longer a male-only preserve.

For the remainder of the article, please see:

http://www.suburbanchicagonews.com/beaconnews/news/2102230,women_science_progress_au031510.article

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6. Juggling Books and Babies
From: WIPHYS March 24, 2010

“Graduate Students Juggle Parenthood with Academic Politics”, Washington Post, 3/23/10.

University of Maryland graduate student Anupama Kothari went into labor on a Friday afternoon two years ago. After a Caesarean section, she was a first-time mother, with a baby girl with huge brown eyes. Read the rest of the story at

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/03/21/AR2010032102620.html?hpid%3Dnewswell&sub=AR

The author of the article, Jenna Johnson, has a blog on the subject of family/maternity leave at various institutions

http://voices.washingtonpost.com/campus-overload/2010/03/grad_students_fight_to_get_mat.html

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7. NASA Planetary Science Summer School
From: WIPHYS March 24, 2010

NASA is accepting applications from science and engineering post-docs, recent PhDs, and doctoral students for its 22nd Annual Planetary Science Summer School, which will hold two separate sessions this summer (19-23 July and 2-6 August) at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. During the program, student teams will carry out the equivalent of an early mission concept study, prepare a proposal authorization review presentation, present it to a review board, and receive feedback. At the end of the week, students will have a clearer understanding of the life cycle of a robotic space mission; relationships between mission design, cost, and schedule; and the tradeoffs necessary to stay within cost and schedule while preserving the quality of science.

Applications are due 1 May 2010. Partial financial support is available for a limited number of individuals. Further information is available at

http://pscischool.jpl.nasa.gov

Leslie Lowes Manager, NASA Planetary Science Summer School Pasadena, Ca. 91109

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8. Women of Color Awards
From: WIPHYS March 25, 2010

For more than two decades, Career Communications Group (CCG) has been celebrating diversity in the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields. In 1987, CCG introduced the Black Engineer of the Year Awards (BEYA) and later, in 1996, the Women of Color Awards (WOC) recognizing the accomplishments of diverse men and women in corporate America. Since then, this prestigious group of awards has been coveted by the nation’s most successful employees and employers and has become the hallmark for external and internal corporate recognition programs in the diversity space.

The 2010-2011 award programs:

http://guest.cvent.com/i.aspx?5S%2cM3%2c7d481839-8eac-4e54-bbee-8837876cd2ab

The 2009 list of Women of Color honorees:

http://www.ccgmag.com/woc/honorees.php

The 2010 Black Engineer honorees:

http://www.blackengineeroftheyear.org/v3/honorees_beya.php

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9. Factors that Encourage and Discourage Women and Minorities in Pursuing STEM Careers
From: WIPHYS March 25, 2010

“U.S. Gets Poor Grades in Nurturing STEM Diversity", by Erik W. Robelen

The nation’s K-12 education system gets an average grade of D for the job it does “engaging and nurturing” minorities to pursue careers in the STEM fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, and a D-plus for such performance with girls, based on results released today from a survey of female and minority chemists and chemical engineers. Read article at

http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2010/03/22/27stem.h29.html?tkn=NWVFcgAJIKVsbeYl2%2BToW1DL8nSEuQXi5ytU&cmp=clp-edweek

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10. 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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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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