Issue of April 22, 2011
eds. Joan Schmelz, Caroline Simpson, and Michele Montgomery
This week's issues:
4. Senior Women
1. Start-Up Advice for a New Faculty Member
From: Doug Duncan [dduncan_at_colorado.edu]
Recently a female postdoc who has worked with me was offered a faculty position. She had never negotiated a start-up, so I gathered some advice from colleagues and added some of my own. I repeat it here in the hopes it will be useful to others.
things that are useful to ask for: - teaching release: one less course for your first semester - grad students: minimum 1 person x 3 years; get numbers from department - travel: $15,000 (you want to represent your new department at meetings) - research equipment including computers (fancy ones) - more travel - publishing costs (no joke I've spent more than 30k in publishing in the last 5 years). - undergrad stipends
As a different colleague put it: -Remind her that now that she has received an offer, she is in the position of power to ask for what she wants.
-She should think about what she really needs for the first few years to be successful, and ask for that (grad student salaries, computer, travel, etc.). It is in the department's interest to give her the things she needs to be successful.
-Also add some stuff which she would like to have but is not an absolute necessity. This gives her a bit of padding which, if necessary, can be reduced during start-up negotiations.
With some hesitancy this person asked for everything she really needed. She asked me privately: Will they think I’m greedy? Will they want to hire someone cheaper?
In fact they gave her 100% of what she asked for.Back to top.
2. Bullying, Sexual Harassment, and Unprofessional Behavior: Request for Advice
[Here is an example where bullying, sexual harassment, and unprofessional behavior overlap in the extreme. Please send advice to aaswomen_at_aas.org – Eds.]
Prof X, tenured at a top-notch university, is widely sought after by students and postdocs and has a relatively large research group. A few years ago he was rumored to be pursuing a sexual relationship with a woman in his group. She was not interested and the situation was considered to be awkward by many members of the group. More recently there have been rumors about two other women in the group. There is a perception that he plays favorites in the group, through project assignments, credit, and recommendations. This favoritism is believed to extend to the women he has allegedly had relationships with. Nobody in the group has raised the issue to anybody with authority at the university (as far as I know). It will be quite a number of years to go until any of the group members have permanent positions, so it's not clear that anybody will speak up.
The issue seems to me to fall more in the category of bullying than sexual harassment, though there may be elements of the latter as well. And the difficulty is that no actual evidence or witnesses exist. So an "accusation" is not appropriate.
Should something be done? If so, what? Who should do it? Can a senior person from a different department intervene?Back to top.
3. Flaming Out and Fighting Back
From: Claire Cramer [ccramer108_at_gmail.com]
Sylvia Ann Hewlett writing for the Harvard Business Review:
Next month I will be the proud recipient of two honors: the "Isabel Benham Award" (Women's Bond Club) and the "Woman of the Year Award" (Financial Women's Association). I'm more than usually appreciative. I've held high-profile jobs and delivered impressed results, but I know about banishment and lonely struggle.
Like many working moms I've grappled with a variety of road blocks and "off-ramps." One of my off-ramps was voluntary; the others were forced on me by employers and the marketplace. In the 1980s I lost twins in the seventh month of pregnancy. This loss triggered a protracted struggle on the childbearing front, and it also torpedoed my promotional prospects. The timing was bad (as it often is). I was at the seven-year mark in my career as a college professor and I was turned down for tenure. To quote one of the conservative members of my tenure committee, I wasn't "sufficiently committed" and had allowed childbearing to "dilute my focus."
As I packed up my office — having lost both my job and my babies — it struck me that the peak demand of many female careers, not just mine, clashed and collided in the worst way with the urgent demands of the biological clock. So many of us were trying to have children in our mid or late thirties, before it was too late, and running into all kinds of punishments and penalties.
To read more:Back to top.
4. Senior Women
From: Joan Schmelz [jschmelz_at_memphis.edu]
When I announced that CSWA would like to expand their recent study of Senior Women to Physics amp; Astronomy departments (AASWOMEN Newsletter for 1 April 2011), I got some data for Physics Departments as well. The current list is included below.
If you work in a Physics amp; Astronomy department or a Physics department with a significant astronomy contingent (in the US with a PhD program) and you would like your department to be included in the list, please send me a list of senior faculty (tenured professors only) with a designation for male or female. For any joint appointments, I would also need the fractional commitment of that individual to the department.
These data should be for the entire department, not just the astronomy component of the department. Note: assistant professors, research professors, junior members, part-time instructors, soft-money researchers, postdocs, emeritus faculty, etc. should NOT be included in this list.
Please feel free to contact me with any questions and updates. % W # W # MBack to top.
5. A Celebration, With Caveats
From: Edmund Bertschinger_at_women_in_astronomy_blog
MIT hosted a major symposium, Leaders in Science and Engineering: The Women of MIT. Under preparation for more than a year, it was one of 6 symposia MIT selected to commemorate its 150th birthday. One week later, I remain excited by the outcome. It included the finest collection of talks across science and engineering, delivered by the greatest set of speakers, that I have ever witnessed at any conference, at MIT or elsewhere. The research presentations were given by women. A few men participated as panelists or session chairs. I was very fortunate to have been the chair of the organizing committee, and to have brought together a dream team to inspire everyone in attendance. Every MIT speaker accepted the invitation and spoke. It was the best conference I have ever attended.
The messages conveyed by this symposium are so important and have such implications for the future of science and engineering that I will be writing several blog entries about it. This first one is an overview.
The symposium had two interwoven threads. The first was the amazing research that our stellar faculty are doing - and these faculty happen to be all women. I'm very grateful to my co-organizers, especially Katrin Wehrheim of Math and Hazel Sive of Biology, for emphasizing this aspect and for helping to select the speakers. It was a superb treat to hear leaders of their fields give beautiful presentations in molecular biology, neuroscience, computer science, fluid dynamics, global ecology, gravitational physics, and more. All of us -- and the speakers themselves -- were exhilarated by the breadth and excellence of research presented. The collection of these recorded talks will be a treasure trove for students and an inspiration for girls wondering what they can achieve by pursuing science or engineering. Indeed, we were delighted that high school girls came to the symposium from as far away as Phoenix, Arizona. I hope that thousands more, and eventually millions, will watch the videos when they are posted online. If you are a young woman wondering how science or engineering can be relevant to your life, you should watch these videos!
To read more:Back to top.
6. Transforming Cultural Norms
From: L. Trouille_at_women_in_astronomy_blog
The AAS Committee on the Status of Women and the AAS Committee on the Status of Minorities are co-hosting a Special Session on Tuesday, May 24th from 2-3:30 pm at the Boston AAS meeting.
This panel discussion builds on previous AAS sessions on mentoring, but focuses on "Transforming Cultural Norms: Mentoring/Networking Groups for Women and Minorities".
A growing number of universities, government labs, and other institutions have established scientific networking and peer mentoring groups for early career (undergraduate, graduate student, postdocs, and new faculty) women and minorities. These groups provide a promising channel for addressing retention and other equity issues. The goals of this panel discussion are (1) to provide information to the community on how to organize, fund, and ensure their sustainability and institutionalization and (2) to present examples showing how departments have managed to change the climate so that mentoring and networking groups become accepted as the norm.
To read more or suggest Guiding Questions/Comments for the panelists:Back to top.
7. Job Announcements
[The AASWOMEN newsletter has adopted a simplified format for job ads. We will no longer be posting the entire ad, but rather a 1-line description of the position and a web site – Eds.] Three-year term position in Astronomy and Physics at Mount Allison UniversityBack to top.
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Please remember to replace "_at_" in the e-mail address above.Back to top.
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