Issue of April 30, 2010
eds. Joan Schmelz, Caroline Simpson amp; Michele Montgomery
This week's issues:
1. Harassment: Serial Offenders - Responses
From: Kevin Marvel [kevin.marvel_at_aas.org]
[Several of this months' issues of AASWOMEN contained a plea for help from an anonymous victim and general responses. The first is a response and it comes from the Exectuive Officer of the AAS, the second is a follow-up suggestion to the first and it comes from the AAS Press Officer and Education amp; Outreach Coordinator Rick Fienberg, and the third is a suggestion from Heather Morrison, Case Western Reserve University. -- Eds.]
Dear AASWOMEN, It has been heartrending to read the recent issues of AASWOMEN and learn that some of my members and astronomy colleagues have been beset with harassment even today, when much progress has been made both in Society and within the AAS to address these issues. I can only hope that the terrible situations described by the victims in question do not represent a widespread problem within our community, but are only the fault of a small number of bad actors who should be reprimanded sharply by their institutions so no more damage can take place.
Let me be very clear, however, about the professional environment at AAS meetings:
Harassment of any kind will not be tolerated under any circumstances at AAS meetings or our Division meetings.
In my first month as Executive Officer back in June 2006, I worked with your elected leadership and the CSWA to draft and ultimately approve an Anti-Harassment policy, which took nearly a year to finalize, but was approved at the January 2008 AAS meeting and is posted online.
The policy is very clear and as the enforcer of this policy, I can state quite clearly that I have a zero tolerance for inappropriate behaviors in the professional environment established at our meetings.
If anyone attending an AAS meeting feels they are being harassed, they should get in touch with me immediately to explain the situation and I will take the appropriate actions to resolve their issue while preserving privacy to the best of my ability. If anyone is uncomfortable approaching me, they may approach any member of Council as well.
From a broader perspective, it is the role of a professional Society to set standards for the discipline and your elected leaders have recently passed a comprehensive Professional Ethics guideline, also available online,
The guideline has strong words about various aspects of professional conduct and all AAS members should strive to achieve the high standards these guidelines set.
As the Society has minimal resources to enforce these guidelines or rules, we must appeal to the institutions where our members work, who are bound by law to enforce all applicable laws and regulations as employers to prevent harassment and its despicable propagation in society at large. The AAS simply cannot be looked to for enforcement or reprimand, though we can be expected to set high standards for professional conduct in our field and encourage our members and institutions to strive to meet these standards.
I look forward to continue working on behalf of all AAS members to secure a better future for our discipline and achieving the goals set by the Council in fulfillment of our overall mission to enhance and share humanity?s scientific understanding of the Universe.
Kevin Marvel, EO AASBack to top.
2. NGCP April Webcast: Why So Few? Eight Research Findings
From: Michele M. Montgomery [montgomery_at_physics.ucf.edu]
In an era where women are so few in STEM fields, a new research report by the American Association of University Women (AAUW) finds that despite positive trends in high school, far fewer girls than boys enter college intending to major in a STEM fields. The report finds that social and environmental factors contribute to the underrepresentation of women and girls in STEM. The eight research findings include:
- If women and girls are led to believe they have a fixed amount of intelligence then they are more likely to lose confidence and disengage in science and engineering. However, if women and girls are led to believe that intelligence can be developed, they are more likely to believe in the power of effort and will face the difficulty, thereby gaining confidence.
- Boys pursue math, in part, because they think they are better at math. Girls, on the other hand, are harder on themselve in self-assessment of their abilities. Girls, in general, do not believe.
- Boys and men consistently outperform girls and women, on average, in spatial skills (part of cognitive reasoning and is on the mental manipulation of 3D objects). However, spatial skills can be improved with training. Spatial skills are considered by many to be an important success in engineering and other scientific fields and may explain why so few women are in engineering.
- Negative sterotypes about girls' and women's abilities in math and science still persist.
- Climate and culture in science and engineering departments of colleges and universities affects attracting and retaining women in STEM.
- Consciously rejecting negative sterotypes about women in STEM may not elminate unconscious beliefs.
A webcast on these findings will soon be published atBack to top.
3. Facing Up to Stereotype Threat
From: Caroline Simpson at Women In Astronomy Blogspot
I was invited to give a talk for Astronomy Day at the Miami Planetarium. On my drive there Saturday, I had the sudden realization that I'm probably the only female PhD astronomer in, not just Miami, but all of south Florida. It was a bizarre feeling; made more bizarre by not ever having realized it that way before. (Granted, there are only about 6 or 7 professional astronomers in south Florida, but that means female astronomers are locally underrepresented relative to the national average.)
When I give public talks of any kind, I'm mildly ... concerned? aware?... that I'm likely to be a slight surprise to the audience because I'm female. This is part of the "heightened social visibility" underrepresented minorities have -- they tend to get noticed because they are different. Whether it's a good thing or a bad thing, it's a thing that we deal with on some level. This is the flip side of mentoring: every time you do anything remotely professionally related, you're a role model whether you want to be or not, whether you're aware of it at the time or not. Men scientists are role models too, but the burden feels greater because I might be the only (or one of the few) female physical scientists someone ever comes in contact with, and I want people to know that women can be (good) scientists too.
[To read more, please seeBack to top.
4. Who's in Your Astronomy Class?
From: Michele M. Montgomery [montgomery_at_physics.ucf.edu]
A recent study by Rudolph et al. (2010) finds that twenty-five percent of 2000 students enrolled in general education astronomy at various universities and colleges across the United States are declared education majors or are interested in the study of education. In other words, nearly 25% of general education astronomy students are likely to become promoters of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields to the next generation. The study also finds the use of ineteractive learning stratagies has a stronger positive effect on student learning than any other characteristic measured. Further, interactive learning stratagies equally benefit men and women, students of all ethnicities, native and non-native English speakers, as well as students of all levels of academic ability, mathematical preparation, and previous physical science coursework
The online article (2010, AER, Volume 1, Issue 9, 010107, 10.3847/AER0009068)) is found in pdf form atBack to top.
5. Diversifying the Science Faculty
From: WIPHYS, April 27
The American Association for the Advancement of Science and the Association of American Universities have issued a new handbook with detailed legal resources to help colleges recruit and retain faculty members and students in science fields. The handbook notes legal challenges to some forms of affirmative action, but suggests that many practices that promote diversity are on solid legal ground. Details atBack to top.
6. Margaret Geller Awarded NAS Medal
From: WIPHYS, April 27
The National Academy of Sciences has awarded Margaret J. Geller the James Craig Watson Medal for her contributions to the science of astronomy. The citation reads: For her role in critical discoveries concerning the large-scale structure of the Universe, for her insightful analyses of galaxies in groups and clusters, and for her being a model in mentoring young scientists.
[Congratulations Margaret Geller! -- Eds.]Back to top.
7. 2011 OUSTA Award of the Society for College Science Teachers
From: WIPHYS, April 5
Nominations are now being sought for the 2011 Outstanding Undergraduate Science Teacher Award (OUSTA) granted by the Society for College Science Teachers (SCST), an affiliate of the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA). A nominee need not be a member of the SCST. Nominations may be made by colleagues or students and self-nominations are also encouraged!
The purpose of the OUSTA is to recognize the achievements of educators who have enhanced the profession as outstanding teachers of college-level science. This annual award is based upon a selection process that evaluates nominees according to the following ranked categories: 1) teaching excellence; 2) scholarship; and 3) service.
For details regarding the nomination and application process, visit
and click on Grants amp; Awards. The deadline for application materials is June 1, 2010.
Please send names of potential nominee/applicants to csandler_at_mich.edu . We will follow-up with everyone to provide further materials and details about the application process. We are also interested in hearing from you if you are considering self-nomination so that we can guide you through the process.
Won't you consider applying for this award and/or identifying your colleagues who are outstanding undergraduate science teachers so that they might be encouraged to apply for the 2011 OUSTA?
Questions? Nomination of a colleague? Self-nomination? Email csandler_at_umich.edu . Deadline: June 1, 2010
Claire Sandler, 2011 OUSTA Committee Chair University of MichiganBack to top.
8. Graduate, Post-Doctoral, and Senior Researcher Opportunities at
From: Michele M. Montgomery [montgomery_at_physics.ucf.edu]
As of today, eighteen opportunities exist at AFRL in solar physics, space weather, optical astronomy, instrumentation, at NIST in absolute flux of standard stars, and at NRL in e.g., cometary and planetary spectroscopy; gamma-ray astrophysics and instrument development; high-energy astrophysics, photon detectors, and solar physics; and radio, infrared, ultraviolet, and X-ray astronomy.
The National Research Council of the National Academies sponsors a number of awards for graduate, postdoctoral and senior researchers at federal laboratories and affiliated institutions, and these awards provide generous stipends ($42,000 - $75,000 per year for recent Ph.D. recipients and higher for additional experience. Graduate level stipends range from $30,000 to $38,000 per annum). Benefits include opportunities to conduct independent research using some of the best-equipped and staffed laboratories in the USA. Research opportunities are open to U.S. citizens, permanent residents, and for some of the laboratories, foreign nationals.
Detailed program information, including instructions on how to apply online and a list of participating laboratories, is available on the NRC Research Associateship Programs Web site at:
Questions should be directed to the NRC at 202-334-2760 (phone) or mail to H. Ray Gamble at rap_at_nas.edu.
There are four review cycles annually. Upcoming deadline dates are:
May 1, 2010 August 1, 2010 November 1, 2010 February 1, 2011
Applicants should begin a dialogue with prospective Advisers at the lab as early as possible, before their anticipated application deadline.Back to top.
9. Visiting Assistant Professor, Rowan University
From: WIPHYS, April 29
The Rowan University Department of Physics and Astronomy invites applications for a one year visiting assistant professor position beginning Fall 2010, with possible renewal for a second year. The position is contingent upon budget appropriations. We seek candidates who are interested in teaching physics at both the beginning and advanced levels. The successful candidate will have the opportunity to participate in the current research programs within our department. A Ph.D. degree in Physics is preferred, but ABD may be considered. Teaching experience is a plus. The department consists of 10 faculty members, a laboratory coordinator, an instrument coordinator, and a secretary. We have eight active research facilities that foster student/faculty collaborative research including labs for magnetics, physical properties, thin film fabrication, microscopy, ultrafast spectroscopy, laser cooling, computational physics, planetary science, and astrophysics. Our department also houses an observatory, a planetarium, and a well equipped machine shop. Additional information may be obtained from our web site at
Applicants should submit a curriculum vita, unofficial undergraduate and graduate transcripts, a one page description of teaching philosophy, a one page statement of research interests and three reference letters by June 15 to: sauer_at_rowan.edu. EOE. Background check required.Back to top.
10. 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).
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If you experience any problems, please email itdeptaas.orgBack to top.
11. 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.