Issue of August 26, 2011
eds. Joan Schmelz, Caroline Simpson, and Michele Montgomery
This week's issues:
1. How Things Have Changed (for the Better!)
From: Joan Schmelz [jschmelz_at_memphis.edu]
In the 19 Aug 2011 issue of the AASWOMEN newsletter, I wrote an item entitled, "Why the AAS Needs the CSWA." It was based on an article of the same title which was written by Lee Anne Willson and published in the Oct 1987 issue of the STATUS magazine. I wrote about how things have improved for women in astronomy since the original article came out.
Katy Garmany, current editor of STATUS, posted the following comment on CSWA's Facebook page, and I just received her permission to share it with AASWOMEN readers.
Katy wrote: "As someone with an even longer history, I can certainly see changes. When I was a grad student in the '60's, the women (all 3 of us) were expected to set up tea and cookies for colloquia every week, while the men (all 20 or so) took turns showing the slides. This was just one of the silly things that had to change, but it represented the times."
If you have a story like Katy's that illustrates just how much things have changed (for the better!) for women in astronomy, please send it to me at the [email] address above.Back to top.
2. Re-Entering a Science Career After a Break
From: Nancy Morrison [NMorris_at_UTNet.UToledo.Edu]
Seen in Nature, August 18, 2011: "Women in science: In pursuit of female chemists," by Carol V. Robinson. Robinson took eight years off, in order to start a three-child family, just after earning her Ph.D. To me, the most interesting part of this article is her description of restarting her career, charting her own course, and eventually becoming a research professor at Oxford after this break.
The article has perceptive things to say about mentoring, role modeling, and climate as well. "Chemistry needs new female role models and a less macho culture to appeal more to the next generation of young women." Do you think scientific culture is too "macho"?
See:Back to top.
3. How to Help More Women Succeed in Physics/Astronomy
From: Douglas Duncan [dduncan_at_colorado.edu]
[Here is a response to last week's item "How to Encourage More Girls to Enter Science? -- eds.]
Elaine Seymour and Nancy Hewitt conducted over 600 hours of in-depth interviews with students who "switched" out of science majors and others who stayed. The results are published in the book, "Talking About Leaving." They discovered and discussed many factors, but two of the most important are mentoring and "climate." A majority of students have moments of doubt ("Am I good enough to do this?") Mentoring makes a big difference at that point. Climate refers to how you feel about yourself. If the Department climate is "We're tough; we always flunk out one third." that is very different from "Our goal is for everyone to succeed in physics." We now know that people learn in a variety of ways, and the person who can answer fastest in class is not always the one who understands the most physics. Sheila Tobias ("They're not dumb, They're Different") argues that we eject too many students from our discipline.
One of the most persistent misconceptions Seymour and Hewett demolish is the idea that, "the best students succeed and the others get washed out." False. The students switching typically had good SATs and GPAs. What was less was their satisfaction. So what was found to affect satisfaction? - Poor teaching. - Chance to work on something interesting. - Being able to see that there career would be "worthwhile." - Mentoring, or lack thereof.
Ed Bertschinger's suggestion to value outreach is useful, because students who do outreach usually end up feeling more worthwhile about the science they are studying.Back to top.
4. Why are there so Few Female Engineers?
From: Meg Urry [meg.urry_at_yale.edu]
My daughter (the future engineer) sent me this [great cartoon]:
AASWOMEN readers will enjoy it!Back to top.
5. 4th Essential Cosmology for the Next Generation
From: Eric Linder [evlinder_at_lbl.gov]
Berkeley Center for Cosmological Physics and the Instituto Avanzado de Cosmologia are organizing their 4th annual Essential Cosmology for the Next Generation (aka Cosmology on the Beach) winter school / research conference on January 16-20, 2012 in Cancun, Mexico.
The conference website is
and the application deadline is October 15.
We strongly encourage a diverse group of advanced graduate students and postdocs to participate. Established researchers enthusiastic about interacting are also welcome. Please let other interested people know about this meeting, although attendance is limited.Back to top.
6. Job Opportunities
a. NRAO has various Job Opportunities such as postdoctoral fellows to work with North American ALMA Science Center and the 2012 Jansky Fellowship Program Please see:
b. Astronomy Lecturer and Outreach Director, University of Oregon
c. Tenure Track, Harvey Mudd CollegeBack to top.
7. How to Submit to the AASWOMEN newsletter
To submit an item to the AASWOMEN newsletter, including replies to topics, send email to aaswomen_at_aas.org
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.Back to top.
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 itdept_at_aas.orgBack to top.
9. Access to Past Issues
Each annual summary includes an index of topics covered.Back to top.