Issue of February 15, 2013
eds. Caroline Simpson, Michele Montgomery, Daryl Haggard, and Nick Murphy
This week's issues:
1. Accepting where we are and looking forward as best we can
From: Deanna Ratnikova via womeninastronomy.blogspot.com
[Guest blogger Deanna Ratnikova talks about career paths and job satisfaction -- eds.]
I've recently interacted with many people—both young and old—who feel disappointed (or even angry) with their career path trajectory. Whether it's the economic climate, the environment for female scientists or workplace politics to blame, the common thread is that everyone had high expectations for themselves, worked hard to reach those expectations but still fell short.
Not too long ago, I was also discouraged with my career path trajectory. During grad school I made a plan for how I'd get to my "dream job", but then reality set in and I had to take the opportunities which eventually led me to my current position. I struggled with self-acceptance and being happy with my career progress because it didn't conform to what I had envisioned.
Eventually, however, I came to an agreement that maybe this is where I’m supposed to be. I realized that it was possible I wouldn't even like my "dream job" if I did achieve it (this is what happened to one of my grad school buddies who I envied for a couple of years before finding out how unhappy he was in his "dream job").Back to top.
2. Reaching Parity: Lessons from the NSF AAPF
From: Eilak Glikman via womeninastronomy.blogspot.com
[Eilak Glikman, an NSF Astronomy and Astrophysics Postdoctoral Fellow, discusses the high proportion of women in the program, and identifies possible reasons in how the program in structured -- eds.]
I returned from a long and stimulating American Astronomical Society (AAS) meeting which began for me the weekend prior with the annual NSF Astronomy and Astrophysics Postdoctoral Fellows (AAPF) Symposium. Those who have attended the AAPF Symposium over the years will tell you: it is usually the highlight of the entire AAS meeting.
The high proportion of female participants at the conference was noted by one of the panelists participating in the panel discussion, Project Leadership in the Age of Large Collaborations, who noted that large collaborations such as LSST have difficulty filling leadership positions with women scientists. This got me thinking, what is it about the AAPF that has led to such high female participation? What are we doing right that other fellowships(1), institutions, etc. could emulate? I have identified three major actions that make the AAPF successful and that can be adapted and emulated to change the nature of our field:
Read the entire post at http://womeninastronomy.blogspot.com/2013/02/reaching-parity-lessons-from-nsf-aapf.html#moreBack to top.
3. While you're fixing broken family leave policies, cover queer families.
From: J. Rigby via womeninastronomy.blogspot.com
[J. Rigby guest blogs about family leave policies: what issues to look for, which questions to ask, and who to contact if you are interesting in supporting changes -- eds.]
The 2013 winter AAS meeting in Long Beach featured a special session about family leave policies for grad students and postdocs at every one of the 28 US institutions that grant PhDs in Astronomy. Dave Charbonneau and Laura Trouille of CSWA have surveyed the current state of our field.
I hope the survey results motivate our community to improve our leave policies. If I want full participation of women in science, we've got to drop these antiquated policies that assume that scientists don't ever have to take leave to adopt, birth, or otherwise care for a child. As an egregious example, at four US institutions that grant astronomy PhDs, graduate students lose their health insurance if they go on parental leave.
Let me speak to those brave academics who are motivated to take the hood off their institution's broken family leave policies, pull out the stripped gears, and suggest fairer replacements. Good going, brave repairmen and women! Now that you've got the the policy disassembled… Could you add protections for queer families? It's the same theme of furthering diversity and fairness in a historically hostile environment. It requires you to educate yourselves, engage queer allies, and stand up not only for your own interests, but for fairness and the interests of other minority groups, toward the greater goal of diversity and equality.
Read more atBack to top.
4. Under the Microscope: Notable Black Female Scientists and Innovators
From: Caroline Simpson [simpsonc_at_fiu.edu]
A compilation of notable African-American female scientists and innovators. The women featured are first in their fields or have made a significant scientific discovery from which the general public has benefitted. http://www.underthemicroscope.com/blog/notable-black-female-scientists-and-innovatorsBack to top.
5. Astrophysicist Dame Jocelyn Bell-Burnell featured on BBC's Woman's Hour
From: Caroline Simpson [simpsonc_at_fiu.edu]
An interview with Dame Jocelyn Bell-Burnell.
Jocelyn Bell Burnell is credited with one of the most significant scientific discoveries of the twentieth century whilst completing her postgraduate studies: that of the first radio pulsars. Although, controversially, she was not named as a co-recipient of the 1974 Nobel Prize for Physics, awarded for the pulsar research, she has received numerous honours and fellowships.
"...for me being a role model was ...important, just to show there are women doing science, enjoying it and being good at it."Back to top.
6. How to create an undergraduate physics program in which women can excel
From: WIPHYS, February 13, 2013
[Janice Hudgings, Physics Department Chair and Associate Dean of Faculty, Mount Holyoke College discusses methods for building an inclusive physics program.]
We have all heard the grim statistics: Despite rising number of bachelor’s degrees being awarded nationwide, the number of physics bachelor’s degrees awarded in the US is relatively stagnant. Furthermore, the fraction of those physics bachelor’s degrees awarded to women remains around 22% nationwide, with the pipeline leaking female talent most heavily at the undergraduate level.
So, given that landscape, how do you create a thriving undergraduate physics program in which young women cannot just succeed, but excel? The physics program at Mount Holyoke College graduates physics majors – all of them women – at a rate that is 3-4 times the national average for small colleges. Furthermore, these women are outstanding young physicists, routinely winning major national and international fellowships and continuing on to the top physics graduate programs in the country. What is the secret to this success? The answer in part is to create an outstanding undergraduate physics program, period, but that by itself is not sufficient for women students to thrive (see the references below).Back to top.
7. Meeting Announcement - Studying Galaxy Evolution - a Galaxy Zoo conference
From: Ivy Wong [Ivy.Wong_at_csiro.au]
This is the first announcement for the meeting, "Studying Galaxy Evolution - a Galaxy Zoo conference". Registration will be opening shortly on February 25th.
Where? Powerhouse Museum, Sydney AUSTRALIA When? 22 - 26 September, 2013
How do galaxies form and evolve? What shapes galaxies? What are the roles of supermassive black holes and bars in galaxy evolution? Nature and nurture both play important roles in galaxy evolution and the aims of this meeting are to: (i) further develop our understanding of the many underlying physical processes that are responsible for shaping the galaxies that we observe in the Universe around us; and (ii) showcase the high impact scientific contributions by Galaxy Zoo to the study of galaxy evolution. To catch the galaxies in the act of transformation, huge samples of galaxies are needed before we can identify one that is in the stage of transformation, especially if these transformation processes occur relatively quickly. A direct consequence of very large surveys is the emergence of "big data" science which severely challenges traditional data processing techniques. Hence, there exists a great need to develop a variety of techniques to fully maximise the scientific return.
Whether you're already working with Galaxy Zoo data, curious about how it might inform your science, or if you just want to spend a few days thinking about galaxy evolution, we hope you'll join us. With more large surveys coming from next generation facilities such as LSST and ASKAP, this meeting will also act as a springboard for Galaxy Zoo-like projects using very large datasets.
More details about this event can be found from this website: https://bit.ly/gzconference
If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us.
Best regards, Ivy Wong (on behalf of the organising committees)Back to top.
8. Job Opportunities
For those interested in increasing excellence and diversity in their organizations, a list of resources and advice is here:
* Tenure-track position in Physics at Everett Community College in Everett, WA https://employment.everettcc.edu/postings/1649
* A Variety of Jobs are available from AURA (includes NOAO, NSO, LSST, and WIYN) http://www.aura-astronomy.org/hr/joblist.aspBack to top.
9. How to Submit to the AASWOMEN newsletter
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Please remember to replace "_at_" in the e-mail address above.Back to top.
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