Issue of October 8, 2010
eds. Joan Schmelz, Caroline Simpson, and Michele Montgomery
This week's issues:
1. Low Percentages of Women Invited Speakers
From: Joan Schmelz [jschmelz_at_memphis.edu]
Since the AASWOMEN special edition on the low percentages of women invited speakers at astronomy meetings (25 Jun 2010), CSWA has been debating what we could do about this issue. One suggestion was to publish a list of conferences with % W(omen) to examine the scope of the problem. The first entries appear below.
Please help us add to this list. We have 2 constraints: this list is for INVITED speakers only (not public lecturers, contributed speakers, session chairs, etc.); you need to ID 100% of the invited speakers by gender (for names that are not obvious and unfamiliar, a google search usually helps). For comparison, AAS Full members are about 18% women.
INVITED Speakers for Astronomy Meetings:
|25||3||9||Cool Stars 16||Seattle, WA||29-Aug-10||Suzanne Hawley|
|0||0||15||Science w/ 8-10m||La Palma, ESP||25-Jul-09||F. Sanchez Martinez|
|0||0||15||CITA at 25/Bond at 60||Toronto, CA||12-May-10||Norm Murray|
|9||2||21||IAU Sym 275: Jets||Buenos Aires, AR||13-Sep-10||Gustavo Romero|
|9||2||21||Grav Waves w/ Pulsars||Leiden, ND||21-Jun-10||??|
|10||1||9||Sources of Grav. Waves||Sao Sebastiao, BR||29-Nov-10||Cecilia Chirenti|
|12||3||23||Galaxy Clusters||Garching, GER||26-Jul-10||Rashid Sunyaev|
|22||5||18||Fast X-ray Timing||Champery, SW||7-Feb-11||Mariano Mendez|
|20||9||35||Impact of Star Formation||Zermatt, SW||19-Sep-10||??|
|36||4||7||Acc. Processes in X-rays||Boston, MA||13-Jul-10||Seimiginowska|
|4||1||27||Roger Chevalier Fest||Pasadena, CA||21-Aug-09||Alicia Soderberg|
|30||3||7||42nd DPS Meeting||Pasadena, CA||3-Oct-10||Kevin Baines|
|13||2||14||Origin of Stellar Masses||Tenerife, Spain||18-Oct-10||Matthew Bate|
My colleague, Jim Klimchuk, recently put together the following information on women on major committees for three of our main professional organizations: AAS, AGU, and IAU.
American Astronomical Society (25% women members) Officers: 3/10 (30%); Councilors: 3/9 (33%); Public Policy Comm.: 7/17 (41%)
American Geophysical Union (24% women members) Officers: 3/6 (50%); Board of Directors: 8/14 (57%); Council: 16/52 (31%)
International Astronomical Union (15% women members) Executive Comm: 1/6 (17%); Vice-Presidents: 2/6 (33%); Div Leadership: 11/23 (48%)
To summarize, women have been well-represented (even over-represented) in service-oriented positions in Astronomy for a long time now. In many cases, they appear to be under represented, sometimes severely so, on invited speaker lists. The first step in solving a problem is to become aware that a problem exists. SOC members, look at the percentages of invited speakers for your conference. Are women represented at a level significantly below 18%? If so, the SOC might want to rethink the invited speaker lineup.
Thanks to Anna Watts for her help with the table.Back to top.
2. Advice for Anon II: When Students Ask Professors Out
From: Joan Schmelz [jschmelz_at_memphis.edu]
[Last week’s issue had an anonymous request for advice in situations when male students ask women instructors out on dates or make sexist jokes or sexual innuendos - Eds.]
Sometimes we feel powerless in these situations, but there are things we CAN do. Most of this advice works regardless of gender.
Establish a _professional_ relationship with your students. The professor has the position of power as the leader of the classroom and can, in most cases, control the situation.
On the first day of class, introduce yourself as Dr. LastName, even if the students are older than you are. Age isn’t the most important factor in a relationship with a student, but it can contribute significantly to the dynamic. If you don’t have a Ph.D, use Ms. or Mr. if you’re junior, Professor if you’re more senior. Never use your first name (unless it is a long-standing tradition in your department and you would feel uncomfortable going against it).
Never tell students that you’re single, that you don’t have time to date, that you’re looking for someone, etc. It will give them the wrong idea, and they could take it as encouragement to ask you out.
If at all possible, never be alone with a student (any student) in a classroom/office/lab with the door closed.
If a student does ask you out, be firm: it is inappropriate and against university policy. The student, however, may not realize this. Have a well-rehearsed line ready. Suggestion: keep it generic (student-professor) rather that personal. A simple, "Professors do NOT date students," full stop, should do it. Practice your response and see what feels right to you. Don’t hesitate; it could give the student an opening. If you say you have a boyfriend/girlfriend, the student may just take that as a sign to wait his/her turn. Some bad examples: “I’m too old for you.” “I don’t have time to date.” “You’re not my type.”
Asking out a professor is inappropriate since a close socialization creates a conflict of interest, and the student should know better. It is not sexual harassment if it happens only once, but it is a different story if the student persists. Hopefully, using the advice outlined here will keep the situation from getting out of hand.
I hate to mention dress since it is such a personal thing, but here goes. Astronomers are in general a rather casual lot, so “dressing professionally” does not mean a business suit. You can, however, establish a leadership role in your classroom by dressing more professionally than your students.
Sexist jokes are never appropriate. The classroom is a professional environment and you have a professional relationship with your students. One colleague, a physician, recounted a time when she was supervising several residents. She found that a well-voiced "Excuse me?" did wonders to stop inappropriate comments in their tracks.
A talk about gender imbalance in STEM fields seems completely appropriate. If the non-professional behavior persists, it could be figured as part of the grade for class participation. You can hand out a university brochure/policy/code-of-conduct that defines civility in the classroom and student responsibility.
Thanks to George Jacoby, Karen Kwitter, Nancy Morrison, Caty Pilachowski, and Meg Urry for helping put this advice together. If anyone has additional advice for Anon II, please send it to AASWOMEN. Anon II, we hope this advice is helpful.Back to top.
3. Truth Values: One Girl’s Romp Through MIT’s Male Math Maze
From: Ed Bertschinger_at_women_in_astronomy_blog
Caution: new blogger at work! I'm a theoretical astrophysicist and cosmologist at MIT and currently head of the Physics Department. I'm passionate about mentoring and increasing diversity in academia. I seek to make my institution a better place to work and study for everyone. It's a delight to share ideas and experiences with others working also for the health of the profession and those drawn to it. I relax with running, birdwatching and cooking. I have another blog at http://diversity.mit.edu I'm excited to start blogging for Women in Astronomy! Last weekend I saw, for the second time, Truth Values -- a wonderful solo play by actress Gioia De Cari, who as a math graduate student at MIT in the 1980s experienced a relentless series of slights and insults before finally calling it quits with a Master’s degree. She pursued a career in acting and might have given up telling her riveting story if Lawrence Summers had not inspired her with his remarks about innate gender differences in 2005.
For more, go here:Back to top.
4. A Trip Through the “Milky” Way: Adventures in Astrophysics and Breastfeeding
Breastfeeding and working can be done, and can be pursued for a year and beyond. Recently I’ve met three women who nursed to between 14 – 24 months while maintaining research astrophysics careers. Support is available, you just have to ask for it and you do have to plan a little bit. FYI, you can read up on the amazing health benefits to you and baby elsewhere (I recommend La Leche League). This is about astrophysics and breastfeeding, focusing on “travel” issues (including just being away from your normal routine).
For instance, in August when my daughter Anya was 5 months old (still completely sustained on breastmilk) I attended a NASA proposal review. I had to send an email to someone I did not know well, asking for a room in which to pump and for breaks during the review (I noted that I could only participate in the review if I got 20 minute breaks in the morning and afternoon). I also chatted with the panel chair before the review started. They really took care of me! Our panel room was partitioned and yours truly got the other side of the partitioned room as a pumping room. My panel chair (male, FYI) was willing to have the proposals on which I was conflicted be discussed slightly out-of-order so I was able to take my pumping breaks and not hold up deliberations. I did have to fess up to the whole committee about what I was doing (at first I tried not to, but one guy was kind of wondering why I kept disappearing through that wall partition). Luckily, I brought Medela “cleaning wipes” with me to the NASA review. The room was wonderfully convenient but there was no sink right there so I had to clean the parts of the pump using the wipes. I had a cooler pack for the milk (no refrigerator handy).
For more, go here:Back to top.
5. Ohio State University Price Prize
From: Jennifer Johnson [jaj_at_astronomy.ohio-state.edu]
The Center for Cosmology and Astro-Particle Physics (CCAPP) is soliciting nominations for the 2010 Price Prize, awarded by CCAPP at Ohio State University to an outstanding senior graduate student working in the field of cosmology or astro-particle physics. The winner will be invited to visit CCAPP for 1-2 weeks and to deliver the Price Prize Colloquium (a one-hour research seminar for the CCAPP community). In addition to covering all local and travel expenses, the Price Prize provides the winner with a $1,500 honorarium.
CCAPP research includes theoretical, observational, and experimental studies of the nature of dark matter and dark energy, the formation of galaxies and large scale structure, the physics of ultra-high energy cosmic rays, neutrino astrophysics, and the deaths of massive stars. CCAPP scientists are playing active roles in the Dark Energy Survey, the Sloan Digital Sky Survey III, the Fermi gamma-ray observatory, the Pierre Auger Observatory, the IceCube and ANITA experiments, and observing programs using the Large Binocular Telescope. For more information, please visit http://ccapp.osu.edu We welcome nominees working on any of these topics or projects, or in other areas of cosmology or astroparticle physics. Our primary criterion is exceptional scientific promise.
The nomination should consist of a letter of recommendation from the student's thesis advisor, a copy of the student's curriculum vitae and publication list, and an abstract, prepared by the student, for her or his potential Price Prize Colloquium. Nomination materials should be sent to CCAPP's program coordinator, Yavonne McGarry, via e-mail to mcgarry_at_mps.ohio-state.edu. The deadline for receipt of materials is Friday, October 22. The CCAPP Science Board will review the nominations and select a winner by November 1.
While there is no formal threshold in seniority, we anticipate that most nominees will be within 1-2 years of completing their PhDs. Students who will complete their degrees before December 15, 2010 are not eligible. The inaugural Price Prize was awarded to Charlie Conroy of Princeton University, now a Junior Fellow in the Harvard Society of Fellows.Back to top.
6. Assistant Professor Position in Astrophysics/Astronomy, Lehman College
From: Dimitra Karabali [Dimitra.Karabali_at_lehman.cuny.edu]
The Department of Physics and Astronomy at Lehman College, CUNY invites applications for a tenure-track position in Astrophysics and Astronomy with a preference for experimental and observational areas. The position is at the Assistant Professor level and begins in Fall 2011. A Ph.D. is required and postdoctoral experience is preferred. The successful candidate must have a commitment to excellence in teaching and is expected to establish an active program of externally funded research that involves both graduate and undergraduate students. Applicants should submit a curriculum vitae, description of research interests, and arrange for at least three letters of recommendation to be sent to:
Prof. Dimitra Karabali, Chair, Department of Physics amp; Astronomy, 250 Bedford Park Boulevard West, Lehman College, CUNY, Bronx, NY 10468-1589.
For full consideration, all application materials should be received by January 15, 2011. Lehman College is an Affirmative Action/ Equal Opportunity/ Americans with Disabilities Act Institution. Women, minorities, and persons with disabilities are strongly encouraged to apply.Back to top.
7. Astronomy Faculty Position at University of California, Berkeley
From: Karen Wang [karenwang_at_berkeley.edu]
The Astronomy Department of the University of California invites applications for a faculty appointment effective July 1, 2011. This position is open to all subfields of astronomy and astrophysics. The search will be at a junior tenure-track or tenured associate professor level.
All qualified candidates are invited to apply. Applications from minority and women candidates are especially encouraged, since the UC campus is committed to a strategic plan for equity and inclusion. A curriculum vitae, bibliography, statement of research interests, and a list of 3 references (names and complete addresses including email) are required for consideration. UC Berkeley’s Statement of Confidentiality can be found at:
A summary of UC Berkeley's family friendly policies and resources can be found at
Online applications are strongly preferred. Please go to http://astro.berkeley.edu and click on the “Faculty Positions in Astronomy” link. Click on “Application 2” link for the UCB position. Follow the directions for self-registration, uploading of PDF’s, and obtaining the URL for your letters of reference writers. For applicants at the assistant professor level, give this URL to at least 3 references and have them upload their letter. If online application is not possible, mail curriculum vitae, bibliography, statement of teaching and research interests, and arrange to have at least 3 references mailed to:
Attention: Karen Wang Astronomy Search Committee University of California, Berkeley 601 Campbell Hall MC4311 Berkeley, CA 94720-4311
For applicants who wish only to be considered at the associate professor level, it is sufficient to provide names and addresses in the initial application; the search committee will contact these references only after the applicant is selected for further consideration. Applications by E-mail or FAX will not be accepted. For full consideration, applications must be received by January 14, 2011. The University of California is an Equal Opportunity, Affirmative Action Employer.Back to top.
8. Director, Centre for Astrophysics and Supercomputing, Swinburne University, Australia
From: Sarah Maddison [smaddison_at_swin.edu.au]
A Director is sought for the Centre for Astrophysics and Supercomputing (CAS) -- a University-supported research centre of Swinburne University of Technology in Melbourne, Australia. The Directorship is associated with a continuing University appointment at the Professor level.
CAS has an international research profile spanning the entire electromagnetic spectrum, covering computational, theoretical and observational astronomy. Priority research areas include galaxy evolution amp; cosmology, globular clusters, pulsars, star and planet formation, Square Kilometre Array simulations and astronomy visualisation. CAS has a broad funding base through a combination of traditional research grants, commercial work and online teaching, which, along with central University support, has led to spectacular growth since its formation in 1998. It now supports over 30 staff (academic, postdoctoral, technical and support), 25+ PhD students, and maintains a vibrant international visitor and colloquium program. CAS is part of the recently announced Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for All-Sky Astrophysics funded for $20 million over seven years. It operates a significant supercomputing facility, to be renewed in 2011, and a HD 3D "Virtual Reality Theatre". The University also has a formal, long-term collaborative agreement with Caltech which provides dedicated observing time on the 10-m Keck telescopes in Hawaii for CAS staff. The Centre offers a Master of Science (Astronomy) -- "Swinburne Astronomy Online" -- an innovative internet-based education program, and hosts Swinburne Astronomy Productions, which makes state-of-the-art 3D animated astronomy outreach films which are shown in our own custom theatres around the world and by licensing agreement. For more details, see
Applications close 30 November 2010.Back to top.
9. 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
If you experience any problems, please email itdept_at_aas.orgBack to top.
10. 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.