Monday, July 4, 2011

AASWOMEN for July 1, 2011

AAS Committee on the Status of Women
Issue of July 1, 2011
eds. Joan Schmelz, Caroline Simpson, and Michele Montgomery

This week's issues:

1. Statistics of Women in Planetary Science: A Clarification

2. One Up, One Down: More Comments

3. Women Speaker Numbers at Solar Physics Division Meeting 2011: A Response

4. Article on the Under-Recognition of Women for AAS Awards and Prizes.

5. Video of the Boston AAS CSWA Panel Discussion Session

6. Job Announcements

7. How to Submit to the AASWomen Newsletter

8. How to Subscribe or Unsubscribe to the AASWomen Newsletter

9. Access to Past Issues of the AASWomen Newsletter

1. Statistics of Women in Planetary Science: A Clarification
From: The Editors of the AASWomen Newsletter []

There appears to have been some confusion regarding the item on women in planetary science that was reported in last week's newsletter. The information we reported was based on a study carried out by the American Institute of Physics (AIP) and sponsored by NASA's Planetary Science Division. We strongly urge interested people to read the report themselves. The main page is at

The Department Summary is at

We reprint the introduction from the Summary here:

"A survey was sent out to university departments around the US that were thought to include faculty involved in planetary science research and/or offer planetary science undergraduate or graduate degrees. This is Part A of a study of the demographics of planetary science carried out by the American Institute of Physics (AIP) and sponsored by NASA's Planetary Science Division. Part B will be a survey of the planetary scientists with PhDs working in the US, to be carried out by the AIP in mid-2011. A description of the study and the steering committee can be found as PlanetSciSurvey.pdf. The survey sent to the departments can be found as PlanetaryDeptSurvey.pdf."

We are in the process of compiling the various reponses we have received, and will provide an update in a future issue of the Newsletter.

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2. One Up, One Down: More Comments From: Sabine Moehler

[The June 17, 2011 issue of AASWOMEN contained information gained recently from a workshop that provided advice to women in science on "Communicating in a Male Dominated Field." One piece of advice was to ignore insults from male colleagues as males, in general, communicate via "One Up, One Down." This is in reponse to a request for advice. -- Eds.]

I can offer some comment - whether it counts as advice I do not know.

- Is polite to you in a group setting but very patronizing one-on-one, or visa versa - Was patronizing or ignored you when you first met, but now that you have an interesting new result is very flattering and encouraging

- Or is flattering and encouraging only when he wants your help with something

In that case (once you have realized it) start to say no if you do not have the time (or simply do not feel like helping the person). It is hard in the beginning, because usually one wishes to be helpful, but there are people who see help as a one-way street - and for that your time is too precious.

- Always treats *you* respectfully, but you've heard or even witnessed him being rude and dismissive toward someone else

If you witness it (and feel secure enough, which is hard for a 'junior' person) speak with the person alone and mention that you are puzzled by that behaviour. There may be a history (like a one-way help situation) so one should be careful about judging too early. Still, there are people who reserve politeness for people they consider equal or higher - and this is something one should try not to tolerate. I would hesitate to act on hearsay (except for being watchful) - there is usually some information lost on the way.

- Or you've heard or witnessed him engaging in "mildly" sexist behavior like discouraging women students from becoming astronomers if they want to have children

Then at least make a comment that you do not see the situation that way. That might help to re-assure the students and at the same time make clear that you do not agree without addressing the person directly.

How do you work with people like this? Do they deserve to be snubbed? How do you respond to praises from people who have only seen this astronomer's good side?

I am not really sure (as a non-native speaker) what constitutes snubbing. My advice would be to be polite - if necessary, icily polite - but not to cut someone. If people praise such a person feel free to add your view, but try to do so calmly. Emotion is often frowned upon and may lessen the impact of your words. I am not saying this is good, but it simply is that way from my experience.

When someone who was originally patronizing starts to seem genuinely interested in my work, I begin to think I misjudged him originally. And I feel a bit bad about enjoying an interesting conservation with someone I know is rude to others.

None of us is perfect. And if you enjoy the conversation you may come to a position where you can address the problematic behaviour towards others.

I don't expect anyone to be perfect and I'm very willing to forgive people for their mistakes. And as a very junior person, I expect to have to prove myself to some extent. But a lot of these people don't seem to have any inkling of how inconsistent their behavior is."

True, but admittedly I find my own behaviour inconsistent from time to time. And I am not sure how I would react if someone pointed out the inconsistencies to me (especially before I realized them myself). It would depend a lot on how high my esteem for that person is and how much I trust him/her - and not necessarily on the truth of the statements. Not fair, but that is the way I am.

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3. Women Speaker Numbers at Solar Physics Division Meeting 2011: A
From: Rick Feinberg []

I appreciate last week's AASWomen posting from Anonymous concerning possible underrepresentation of women among speakers at the 2011 AAS Solar Physics Division (SPD) meeting in Las Cruces, NM. The AAS is committed to equality of opportunity and treatment for all members regard less of gender, so it's appropriate to take a critical look at how the Society and its Divisions are measuring up.

Based on her own counts (I assume that the writer is female, but it doesn't matter), Anonymous found about 20% of the speakers at the SPD meeting to be female and about 80% to be male. She then asked some questions about possible bias on the part of the scientific organizing committee -- bias toward inviting/allowing men to give oral presentations and toward re legating/assigning women to posters. So far, so good. But Anonymous made no attempt to answer these questions, either by herself or with help from the meeting's organizers.

The SPD 2011 registration list is publicly available on the AAS website and shows 323 registrants. From their names, and with some help from SPD press officer Craig DeForest (who knows lots more SPD members personally than I do), I was able to confidently identify the genders of 313 of them: 80 female (26%) and 233 male (74%). Craig did a similar analysis of first (i.e., presenting) authors; he was able to identify the genders of 312 out of 313 of them: 85 female (27%) and 227 male (73%).

Craig also looked at the gender breakdown among the 141 oral presentations, including short talks, prize talks, and invited talks: 25 female (25%), 106 male (75%). And he looked at all but one of 172 posters, including on-time and late submissions (ignoring one from an author whose gender we don't know): 50 female (29%), 121 male (70%). SPD member Judy Karpen, a staunch advocate of gender equity within the division, noted that prize talks are given by prizewinners and shouldn't be counted separately here; achieving gender parity in prizes is a separate, but related, issue -- see the article by Alice Popejoy and Phoebe S. Leboy in the July-August issue of the AAS Newsletter.

Craig's and my quick analyses suggest that across all types of presentations at the 2011 SPD meeting, the fractions of female and male presenters were in good agreement with the fractions of female and male attendees, suggesting a complete absence of gender bias on the part of the organizers.

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4. Article on the Under-Recognition of Women for AAS Awards and Prizes.
From: Hanna Jang-Condell []

There's a nice article on the under-recognition of women for AAS awards and prizes.

Check it out:

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5. Video of the Boston AAS CSWA Panel Discussion Session
From: Committee on the Status of Women in Astronomy []

We have made the video of the CSWA-sponsored session on mentoring and networking available at

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6. 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.]

1. Job Openings at NOAO and the National Solar Observatory:

2. Associate Executive Officer, American Association of Physics Teachers (AAPT)

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7. How to Submit to the AASWOMEN newsletter

To submit an item to the AASWOMEN newsletter, including replies to topics, send email to

All material will be posted unless you tell us otherwise, including your email address.

Please remember to replace "_at_" in the e-mail address above.

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8. How to Subscribe or Unsubscribe to the AASWOMEN newsletter

To subscribe or unsubscribe to the AASWOMEN newsletter, please fill in the required information at:

If you experience any problems, please email

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9. Access to Past Issues

Each annual summary includes an index of topics covered.

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