Issue of September 2, 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]
The last issue of the AASWOMEN newsletter included a story from Katy Garmany illustrating how much things have changed for women in astronomy. I asked AASWOMEN readers for other examples and received to following contribution from Kathy Mead, editor of STATUS from 1995-98.
Kathy wrote: "When I first observed at NRAO on Kitt Peak in 1980, there were "Playboy" magazines *everywhere.* They were in the control room as well as in the trailers. Not just a current and couple of back issues, but piles of them. At first, I just tried to figure out how to act like I didn't really notice or care. Guys there read them right in front of me. Later, as I became more bold, I asked about them and was told that an observer had given a subscription to the observatory. To me, this sounded like a clueless justification. They could have declined the subscription. Even if there were zero women at the telescope, how is pornography appropriate in the workplace? Working with state of the art equipment should be enough to keep even a man's mind occupied for the work day. But hey, I wanted a career in Astrophysics, and that was the culture so I made up my mind to live with it. After a few years, the magazines disappeared. However, many years after that, after they built new lodging, I found a stash of them in a non-prominent place in one of the buildings."
Kathy's story reminded me that pornography was common in the astronomical workplace in the 1980s, not just at Kitt Peak. The problem was so widespread that the Oct 1986 issue of STATUS had advice on how to get your male colleagues to take down their nude pin-up posters! I remember computer printouts (on the old green and white striped paper) of naked women in many places, mainly in the offices of the NRAO computer operators. I never saw a pile of "Playboys," but after years of observing at Arecibo, one of my friends (a telescope operator) showed me the local collection - it was in a file drawer in the control room. All the guys know about it.
I remember precisely when things changed: it was after the Anita Hill-Clarence Thomas hearings on Capitol Hill, and the federal government began taking the issue of sexual harassment more seriously. I had visions of word coming down from the observatory directors to get those posters off the wall. The pornography disappeared practically overnight.
If you have a story to share about the "old days," please send it to me at the address above.Back to top.
2. How Things Have Changed (for the Better!)
From: Caroline Simpson [simpsonc_at_fiu.edu]
When I was working at STScI in the mid-80s (before I went to grad school) as part of the Guide Star Catalog team, one of the computer screen savers (waaay back in the early days of such things) was a publicity shot from the movie The Deep, which was of a scuba-diving Jacqueline Bisset underwater in a white (and therefore completely see through) T-shirt. I think the computer guys also used the image to test the printers as well. I was quite non-plussed by the whole thing; but never said or did anything about it that I recall.
Interesting thread. I find it both appalling that things used to be so bad, and reassuring that progress has been made.Back to top.
3. To travel with the kid or without, this is always a big question.
From: AnnH on the Women in Astronomy Blog
Every mother has her own unique path through navigating career and parenting. I am sure that many women maintaining a career while caring for children struggle with the issue of professional travel. Up until now, my nursing relationship with my child dictated (for me) that I take her with me, but now I am finding I can get away with a few days away and frankly, she is now running and napping slightly less. At 17 months, she isn't the portable person she used to be.
So, I have just decided recently that I am not bringing my daughter with me at all to the AAS High Energy Astrophysics Division (HEAD) meeting. [...]
See the full post at http://womeninastronomy.blogspot.com
and read the comments on our facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/notes/committee-on-the-status-of-women-in-astronomy/to-travel-with-the-kid-or-without-this-is-always-a-big-question/10150370961000505Back to top.
4. Culture Drives Gender Gap in Spatial Abilities, Study Finds
From: Joan Schmelz [jschmelz_at_memphis.edu]
Culture Drives Gender Gap in Spatial Abilities, Study Finds LiveScience.com
"Some, like former Harvard president Lawrence Summers, have suggested that such innate abilities might be the reason that women are underrepresented in science and math careers. Summers drew fire in 2005 for suggesting as much during a conference on ... "
See all stories on this topic at http://news.google.com/news/story?ncl=http://www.livescience.com/15823-culture-gender-gap-spatial-abilities.html&hl=en&geo=usBack to top.
5. NASA Names Astrophysics Fellowship For Iconic Woman Astronomer
From: Meg Urry [meg.urry_at_yale.edu]
Wonderful news about the recognition of the tremendous leadership of Nancy Roman for NASA's space science program:
RELEASE : 11-277
NASA Names Astrophysics Fellowship For Iconic Woman Astronomer
WASHINGTON -- NASA has established an astrophysics technology fellowship named for the woman many credit as one of the key contributors in the creation of the Hubble Space Telescope.
The Nancy Grace Roman Technology Fellowship in Astrophysics is designed to foster technologies that advance scientific investigations in the origin and physics of the universe and future exoplanet exploration. The fellowship will help early career researchers develop innovative technologies to enable scientific breakthroughs, while creating the skills necessary to lead astrophysics projects and future investigations.
See the full article at: http://www.nasa.gov/home/hqnews/2011/aug/HQ_11-277_Astro_Fellows.html
For information about applying to the fellowship, visit:Back to top.
6. Professional Skills Development Workshops in 2012 for female physicists
From: WIPHYS, Aug. 31, 2011
The American Physical Society, with support from NSF, will host two Professional Skills Development Workshops in 2012 for female physicists. Postdoctoral associates and senior-level faculty and scientists are invited to apply for the February 26, 2012 workshop in Boston, MA. Postdoctoral associates and early-career faculty and scientists are invited to apply for the March 30, 2012 workshop in Atlanta, GA. Senior graduate students, recent graduates, and physicists in-between careers are also welcome to apply.
Applicants currently residing in the US (or those outside the country affiliated with a US institution/facility) are eligible for travel and/or lodging funding consideration. Those needing funding assistance are encouraged to apply early. The deadlines for the workshops and a link to the online application can be found at http://www.aps.org/programs/women/workshops/skillsBack to top.
7. Job Opportunities
Related to Item 3 above:
1. The Nancy Grace Roman Technology Fellowship in Astrophysics Beginning Nov. 18, early-career researchers may submit proposals for one-year concept studies for the development of new astrophysics technologies. See http://bit.ly/qWEPYC for full information.
2. NRAO has the following scientist positions available.Full information for all three positions is available at: https://careers.nrao.edu ; click on 'scientist positions.'
A. EVLA/VLBA Postdoctoral Fellow: NRAO invites applications for three postdoctoral positions to participate in the scientific commissioning and technical development of the EVLA and VLBA.
B. Jansky Fellow: Fellows formulate and carry out investigations either independently or in collaboration with others within the wide framework of interests of the Observatory. Prior radio astronomy experience not required.
C. Green Bank Postdoctoral Fellow: The successful application will have 50% of his/her time available for independent research, while 50% of his/her time will be devoted to support of the GBT and GBT observers.
3. Omidyar Postdoctoral Fellowship at the Santa Fe Institute Apply by November 1. The Institute has no formal programs or departments. Research is collaborative and spans the physical, natural, and social sciences. Most research is theoretical and/or computational in nature, although it may include an empirical component. http://www.santafe.edu/omidyar-fellowship
4. Project Officer: IAU Global Office of Astronomy for Development The International Astronomical Union (IAU), in partnership with the South African National Research Foundation (NRF), has established the global Office of Astronomy for Development (OAD) at the South African Astronomical Observatory (SAAO) in Cape Town, South Africa. This office will be the centre of development activities worldwide in the areas of (i) astronomy for children and schools; (ii) astronomy for universities and research; and (iii) astronomy for the public. http://www.nsbp.org/en/jobs/v/731Back to top.
8. 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.
9. How to Subscribe or Unsubscribe to the AASWOMEN newsletter
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If you experience any problems, please email itdept_at_aas.orgBack to top.
10. Access to Past Issues
Each annual summary includes an index of topics covered.Back to top.