Tuesday, April 13, 2010

AASWOMEN for April 2, 2010

AAS Committee on the Status of Women
Issue of April 2, 2009
eds. Joan Schmelz, Caroline Simpson amp; Michele Montgomery

This week's issues:

1. Harassment: Serial Offenders

2. Scarcity of Women in Sciences

3. Reports on Women/Minorities Pursuing STEM Careers

4. Are We There Yet?

5. Chinese Female Astronauts: Must Be A Married Mom

6. Practicing Gender Equality in Science

7. Future bright for Harvard's female faculty

8. Networking while on a career break

9. ASP Cosmos in the Classroom & Travel Grants

*** FOLLOWING JOB POSTING TAKEN FROM WIPHYS ***

10. Instructor/Assistant Professor, US Military Academy

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

12. Access to Past Issues of AASWOMEN


1. Harassment: Serial Offenders
From: Gerrit Verschuur [Verschuur_at_aol.com]

[Last week's issue of AASWOMEN contained a plea for help from an anonymous victim. Several of you wrote in with advice, and those e-mails have been forwarded to Anon. We also received the following more general reply, which we think everyone should read -- Eds.]

On rereading ?Anonymous Request for Advice? (AASWOMEN March 26, 2010) I again feel a surge of anger. All weekend I have been mulling over how to respond to Anon who feels trapped in a situation in which an unprofessional advisor is making her life miserable. I am writing this draft in a doctor?s waiting room before a check up and it is not doing my blood pressure any good. What upsets me so much is that Anon?s situation is not unlike that which confronted someone I know very well. In her case the relationship to her advisor did became toxic (as Anon fears for herself) when her advisor?s sexual and psychological expectations were not met. In response, he poisoned the atmosphere in which she had to work. To cut a long story short, she was hung out to dry and graduated without any help from him. However, she was unable to continue in the branch of astronomy she loved because he refused to write her a recommendation. Had that situation presented itself today he would have been taken to court. Thus the case described by Anon resonates deeply. She should not have to run the risk of a similar fate. Thus I struggle to come up with advice that will offer Anon some solace.

Anon tells us that her advisor has a history: He is a serial offender. It turned out that my friend?s advisor is such a person as well. How do we deal with the serial offenders? Perhaps there is a hint of a lesson to be learned from what is happening in the Catholic Church at present. All weekend we have been bombarded with news items and editorials about the scandal that is rocking the Church. The parallels deserve examination. In one case, hundreds of young boys were molested by a serial offender and yet the bishop did nothing to intercede. It is not too far-fetched to liken a university department to the church, the chair to the bishop, and the tenured faculty to the priests. The victims of sexual harassment, or any form of the blatant abuse of power, which is what that is, have no one to turn to. Anon is scared that if she reports what she is experiencing she will get a ?cage rattler? label and that she will then suffer even more indignities. And so, after many years, the number of victims of the serial offender grows until, as is now happening in the Church, enough of those victims are heard and the whole thing blows up. Perhaps some day the department in question will be forced to confront the fact that it has, for too long, turned a blind eye to the problem.

But none of what I have written above is of much help to Anon. It only paints a context. What can we advise? Perhaps we need to look at what should be axiomatic in any university department, which is that all interactions must be conducted in a professional manner. Yet who can confront the serial offender that his behavior is unprofessional? Can Anon tell her advisor that he is behaving unprofessionally toward her without risking a reaction that may jeopardize her graduating and obtaining a good reference? Like the church, the department is run by a group of ?male bosses protecting one another in that repugnant and hypocritical old boys? network,? in the words of Maureen Dowd writing in her recent column about the Church. How can we get the chairs of university departments or directors of observatories to take this problem seriously? At the very least we can beg them to remind their faculty and staff that they are professionals and must treat their students and colleagues accordingly. Perhaps if enough of the readers of AASWOMEN make copies of Anon?s letter and this one, some of the department chairs might be motivated to determine if any of their students have been subjected to the sort of inappropriate behavior that Anon refers to. A survey that guarantees the respondent?s anonymity might alert the department to problems so that those in authority can ?clean house.? (Perhaps the CSWA can come up with a suitable questionnaire.)

The bottom line is that any woman deserves to be given an opportunity to pursue her love for astronomy in a professionally encouraging environment. One?s physical endowments, or whether or not one is ?bubbly and feminine,? in Anon?s words, should play absolutely no role whatsoever in reaching a judgment of that individual?s capabilities. If my friend had been granted this right her life would have turned out very differently and the individual who made her life hell would long since have been fired. That is now water under the bridge. The best we can hope for now is that Anon will be able to become the scientist she wants to be and that her department will come down hard on her advisor who, in her words, reduced her to body parts and whose history is surely known to his colleagues.

Wherever Anon is enrolled I can only hope that she never has to suffer the injustice that my friend had to live with. It is for just this reason, to help create a level playing field for all concerned, that the Committee of the Status of Women in Astronomy was set up. Their task is far from complete. Righting the wrongs that persist will create a hassle for those in charge but they have to be courageous enough to deal with the issues now. Otherwise their ?church? will be made to pay later.

(Addendum. Yes, my BP was high when it was measured after writing this draft. But after 15 minutes it settled back down again!)

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2. Scarcity of Women in Sciences
From: WiPhys, March 31

In an era when women are increasingly prominent in medicine, law and business, why are there so few women scientists and engineers? A new research report by AAUW presents compelling evidence that can help to explain this puzzle. Why So Few? Women in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics presents in-depth yet accessible profiles of eight key research findings that point to environmental and social barriers ? including stereotypes, gender bias and the climate of science and engineering departments in colleges and universities ? that continue to block women?s participation and progress in science, technology, engineering, and math. The report also includes up to date statistics on girls' and women's achievement and participation in these areas and offers new ideas for what each of us can do to more fully open scientific and engineering fields to girls and women. To download the report, please see

http://www.aauw.org/research/whysofew.cfm

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3. Reports on Women/Minorities Pursuing STEM Careers
From: WiPhys, March 25

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. You can read the article at

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

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4. Are We There Yet?
From: Hannah Jang-Condell [hannah_at_astro.umd.edu]

[Thank you Hannah for pointing us to this article -- Eds.]

In 1970, 46 women filed a landmark-gender-discrimination case. Their employer was NEWSWEEK. Forty years later, their contemporary counterparts question how much has actually changed. Read the article at:

http://www.newsweek.com/id/235220

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5. Chinese Female Astronauts: Must Be A Married Mom
From: Hannah Jang-Condell [hannah_at_astro.umd.edu]

[Thank you Hannah for pointing us to this article -- Eds.]

China's first two female reserve astronauts, selected earlier this month from a pool of 15 female fighter pilots, are required to be wives and mothers. You can read more on this article at:

http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,1974793,00.html#ixzz0jxHZYiwU

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6. Practicing Gender Equality in Science
From: Michele M. Montgomery

The European Union has collected 10 years worth of information on the situation of women in science and on funding measures that encourage and retain women in science and technology careers. They have developed a set of "Guidelines for Gender Equality Programmes in Science"

http://www.retepariopportunita.it/Rete_Pari_Opportunita/UserFiles/Progetti/prages/pragesguidelines.pdf

that is based on collection and assessment of practices developed in Europe, North America, and Australia. They have also generated a database of gender equality programmes in science and technology which is available at

http://www.pragesdatabase.eu/default.aspx .

For example, at this website, search for 'astronomy' in the field of 'promoter' to see which programs are available and by whom in Europe, North America, or Austrialia. I thank Anke Lipinsky of the Leibniz Institute for the Social Sciences, Bonn, Germany, for pointing me to this site.

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7. Future bright for Harvard's female faculty
From: WIPHYS, April 2

This New York Times article reports on the improvements for female Harvard University faculty members since its female President Drew Gilpin Faust has been at the helm.

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/13/education/13harvard.html

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8. Networking while on a career break
From: WIPHYS, April 2

If you are taking a career break there are still ways to sustain and build your network for a later return to the field.   Read more ways to keep your network going if you are taking time away, please see

http://www.forbes.com/2010/03/23/networking-from-home-career-forbes-woman-leadership-relationships.html

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9. ASP Cosmos in the Classrom & Travel Grants
From: Michele Montgomery [montgomery_at_physics.ucf.edu]

Calling all astronomy instructors! The Astronomical Society of the Pacific (ASP) has announced its 2010 meeting to be held August 2 - 4 at the University of Colorado at Boulder. The meeting is to be held jointly with another hands-on symposia, Earth and Space Science: Making Connections in Education and Public Outreach. Weekend workshops on teaching astronomy for teachers in grades 3-12 and those who work with them are to be held the weekend prior to the meeting (July 31 - August 1). Travel grants are available for U.S. Citizens and instructors of astronomy at community colleges, 4-year liveral arts collees and state universities that do not have significant programs in astronomical research, and graduate students or post-docs who are entering into astronomy teaching positions next year. More information can be found at

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

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10. Instructor/Assistant Professor, US Military Academy
From: WIPHYS, April 2

Applications are invited for this full time position beginning on or about 27 June 2010.  This is a 36-month term position without the possibility of renewal.  Applicants must hold an earned Ph.D. in physics, nuclear engineering or a related field and possess an exceptional ability and a strong interest in teaching undergraduate physics.  Duties will include teaching introductory calculus-based physics courses, and possibly teaching in the physics electives or nuclear engineering programs.  Research opportunities are available.

Applications should be received NLT 16 April 2010.  The Ph.D. must be completed by time of appointment.  Applicants must be citizens of the United States.  Salary is highly competitive and commensurate with qualifications and experience.  For information about the department visit us at www.dean.usma.edu/Physics/physics.htm.  Send letter of application, curriculum vitae, a statement of teaching philosophy and career goals, not more than 3 letters of recommendation, and official transcripts to the

Department of Physics and Nuclear Engineering ATTN:  Ms. Gloria Gerard United States Military Academy West Point, New York, 10996

The United States Military Academy is an Equal Opportunity, Affirmative Action Employer.  Women and minorities are encouraged to apply.

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

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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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