Issue of May 7, 2010
eds. Joan Schmelz, Caroline Simpson amp; Michele Montgomery
This week's issues:
***The following positions were taken from WIPHYS***
1. AAS Talk/Poster Policy: A Model for Equality
From: Kevin Marvel [kevin.marvel_at_aas.org]
A recent issue of AASWOMEN shared a list of humorous anecdotes under
the title "You Know You're a Senior Woman if . . ." An item about
moving submitted oral talks to poster sessions caught my eye and
reminded me of what Caty Pilachowski (AAS president, 2002-2004)
calls, "a perennial problem," the low percentages of women speakers
at some meetings. I would like to take this opportunity to remind the
AAS divisions, special session and conference organizers, and the
astronomy community in general of the AAS policy.
The AAS has a formal procedure for shifting submitted oral talks to poster sessions. The above mentioned AASWOMEN item sparked me to gather some statistics. The data, at least those for the sessions structured by the AAS itself, not its divisions or special sessions, show no gender disparity. Obviously, I don't have data on non-AAS meetings, but I hope that all meeting amp; session organizers will check to ensure that such biases don't creep into their planning activities.
First, the AAS does its best to assign people to the type of session they want. This is not the case for late submissions, which are directed to poster sessions regardless of the chosen presentation preference of the abstract author. There are rare exceptions, usually involving students, where we try and allow them to give an oral talk if that is their preference. There has to be some consequence for missing the deadline, as numerous late submissions make it challenging to arrange the scientific portion of our meeting and hinder logistical planning.
Sometimes however, due to logistical constraints, we are unable to fulfill all requests for oral presentations. When we need to shift a submitted oral talk to a poster session, we always ask submitters if they would be OK with the move. If they are opposed to the change, we try to find another way to accommodate their request and the physical constraints of the meeting space. This situation only happens when we have filled up all oral talk sessions and the only open oral sessions have nothing in common subject-wise with the abstract in question. This is done without attention to the gender of the submitter and handled administratively by our Abstract Administrator with oversight by myself.
Second, our data shows that the gender differentiation of abstracts shifted from oral to poster matches the gender distribution of the Society in general. For the last three winter meetings, 31 abstracts (in total, an average of 10 per meeting) were switched from oral to poster. Of these, twelve were late submissions, falling into the automatically shifted category. Of the remaining 19 abstracts, only three were submitted by women. Only 16% of the shifted abstracts were submitted by women, whereas the overall fraction of women in the society is greater than 35%.
Finally, the invited speakers are selected by the meeting program committee, composed of and led by the Vice Presidents, President, past-President or President-elect and myself. During the 16-odd planning meetings I have attended the issue of equality of gender representation was always voluntarily brought up by two or more of the participants (usually by the male participants) and the discussion of gender balance played a role in the final selection of speakers for the meeting in question.
Efforts in the area of diversity in our discipline, as initiated and led by the CSWA, CSMA and Council, are having a demonstrable positive impact. However, it is clear that biases like that joked about in the AASWOMEN piece still take place. Hopefully, the Society's policy can be implemented by others organizing meetings in our field. If you ever serve on a scientific organizing committee, be sure to point to the Society's efforts in this area. By pointing to your Society as a positive example to follow, over time such comments will no longer be funny, as the events they scoff at will not take place.
I look forward, as always, to serving our community to make things even better than they are today.Back to top.
2. What Can Men Do to Help Women Succeed in Astronomy?
From: Joan Schmelz [jschmelz_at_memphis.edu]
The Winter AAS Meeting will be 09-13 January 2011 in Seattle, WA, and Town Hall proposals are due next week. CSWA is considering a topic along the lines of, "What Can Men Do to Help Women Succeed in Astronomy?" Some suggestions put forth by Marc Postman and other members of CSWA include:
-If a woman makes a good point during a discussion, acknowledge it! Don't wait until the man who is half as talented makes the same point and give him credit instead. I have witnessed this on occasion.
-Men must be willing to accept that diversity on scientific staff and in speaker lists at meetings is a key contribution to scientific excellence. It is NOT social engineering.
-Male astronomers must be trained to be repulsed by a male/female ratio that is >> 2 in any astronomical organization or meeting. And then take action to fix it and prevent it from happening in future.
-If a man witnesses other men dominating a discussion at a meeting/ conference while a woman is trying to make a point then he can speak up and tell his colleagues to shut up and listen (although perhaps this too can be patronizing).
-Make sure family friendly policies are in place in your institution, even if you are single and have no children.
-Become aware of your own biases. Note: the biggest obstacle to overcoming bias is to be unaware that bias exists!
-Attend a training session on diversity and bias even if you think you, your group, and your department has no problem(s).
-Do not comment on a woman's appearance in any professional context. It is irrelevant.
Would you like to add to this list? Please send suggestions to me at the address above.Back to top.
3. America Competes
From: WIPHYS April 30, 2010
> From the Association for Women in Science: The America COMPETES Act > reauthorization is working its way through Congress and AWIS has > been actively supporting the inclusion of initiatives to support > women in academic science and engineering. We are very pleased to > report that the proposed amendment offered by Congresswoman Eddie > Bernice Johnson to the America Competes reauthorization, > "Fulfilling the Potential of Women in Academic Science," was passed > unanimously by the House Science Committee on April 28, 2010. The > amendment includes support for workshops to enhance gender equity > and outlines guidance for the collection of data on demographics of > faculty for institutions receiving federal funding for science and > engineering. Details at:Back to top.
4. Rude Students
From: WIPHYS May 5, 2010
"Chief Targets of Student Incivility Are Female and Young Professors", by Peter Schmidt, Chronicle of Higher Education, May 5, 2010
When it comes to being rude, disrespectful, or abusive to their professors, students appear most likely to take aim at women, the young, and the inexperienced, a new study has found.
The study, presented here on Sunday at the annual conference of the American Educational Research Association, involved an online survey of 339 faculty members, roughly evenly split by gender, at nine geographically dispersed colleges and universities of various institutional types. It was conducted by three researchers at the University of Redlands: Rodney K. Goodyear, a professor of education, and Pauline Reynolds and Janee Both Gragg, both assistant professors of education. See story at:Back to top.
5. Women Scientists Urge Students to Dream Big
From: Joan Schmelz [jschmelz_at_memphis.edu]
Eileen FitzGerald, staff writer for Newstimes, published an article urging students to dream big.
DANBURY -- Eleven-year-old Mackenzie Burns, of Sherman, learned an important lesson from women scientists on a panel about careers in science at Western Connecticut State University.
It was good timing. On April 20, the day of the conference, there were more women in space than any other time in history.
Mackenzie learned she should not give up on math, even if she struggles, because hard work now could pay off in an interesting career down the road.
It was a credible message coming from Rachael Manzer, a Simsbury science teacher and astronaut-in-training; Ruth Gyure, a WestConn microbiology professor; Valentina Luga, a mechanical design engineer, and Suzanne Woll, a systems engineer, both at Hamilton Sundstrand.
"I never really thought about math that way -- the way they explained it," said Mackenzie, a home-schooled sixth-grader. "They explained it in a good way. It made me want to do math more. I always wanted to be a scientist."
To read more, go here:
http://www.newstimes.com/news/article/Women-scientists-urge-students to-dream-big-469903.phpBack to top.
6. Research Associate, Gravitational Wave Group, Syracuse University
From: WIPHYS May 6, 2010
The Syracuse University Gravitational Wave Group
is seeking to hire a research associate to work on development and support of software infrastructure enabling LIGO data analysis efforts.
The Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory (LIGO) is an ambitious National Science Foundation funded project to detect gravitational waves and use them to explore the Universe. Members of the Syracuse group play an important role in the search for inspiral and burst sources of gravitational waves through their membership of the LIGO Scientific Collaboration. The Syracuse group operates a 320 CPU core computing cluster with 96Tb of storage for gravitational wave and grid computing research, and plays a lead role in the development of LIGO's computational infrastructure.
The successful candidate will work on design, development, deployment, and support of software infrastructure to further the scientific goals of the LIGO project. They will have a close connection with scientists conducting gravitational-wave data analysis and will have the opportunity make important contributions to the search for gravitational waves with LIGO. An incomplete list of projects includes tools for scientific data management, workflow management, metadata driven workflow planning, and other areas of grid and distributed computing in support of science.
Applications should have a Ph.D. or Masters degree in physics, information science, or a related field, excellent computer skills, extensive experience with Linux, C programming skills, a working knowledge of popular scripting languages including Python, and be highly motivated. Experience with the relational databases and/or Condor is a plus, but not essential. The successful candidate should be prepared to start June 1, 2010, although some flexibility of this date is possible. For full consideration, qualified candidates must complete an online application at
(job number 026206) and attach their curriculum vitae, a list of publications, a statement of their qualifications, and the email addresses of three references. Review of applications will begin June 1, 2010 and will continue until the position is filled.Back to top.
7. Assistant Professor, Department of Physics, Ithaca College
From: WIPHYS May 6, 2010
The Ithaca College Physics Department invites applications for a full- time, one-year sabbatical replacement position as Assistant Professor beginning August 16, 2010. We seek a conscientious teacher and a practicing physicist who will thrive in a four-year comprehensive institution where close contact and collaboration with students are the norm. Responsibilities include teaching assigned courses with associated office hours, grading, and grade assignment. Faculty members are also expected to participate in activities of the physics community and the College.
Qualifications: Ph.D. in physics or related discipline preferred. Outstanding candidates who are ABD will be considered. Teaching experience at the college level is also expected.
To apply, visit our website
Questions about online application, call (607) 274-1207. Review of applications will begin immediately and will continue until the position is filled.
Ithaca College is committed to building a diverse academic community and encourages members of underrepresented groups to apply. Experience that contributes to the diversity of the college is appreciated.Back to top.
8. How to Submit, Subscribe, or Unsubscribe to AASWOMEN
[Please remember to replace "_at_" in the below e-mail addresses.]
To submit to AASWOMEN: send email to aaswomen_at_aas.org. All material sent to that address will be posted unless you tell us otherwise (including your email address).
To subscribe or unsubscribe to AASWOMEN go to
and fill out the form.
If you experience any problems, please email itdept_at_aas.orgBack to top.
9. 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.