Issue of March 14, 2014
eds: Michele M. Montgomery, Daryl Haggard, Nick Murphy, & Nicolle Zellner
This week's issues:
5. Ban Bossy
1. Affirmative Action
From: Joan Schmelz via womeninastronomy.blogspot.com
I recently had the privilege of being an invited speaker at the Northeast Conference for Undergraduate Women in Physics at Penn State on January 17-19. It was a three-day regional conference for undergraduates interested in physics and one of eight regional physics conferences organized by the American Physical Society. I spoke on gender issues: unconscious bias, stereotype threat, and impostor syndrome. It was a fantastic experience. The young women I met were smart, articulate, and confident. They listened attentively, laughed when appropriate, and asked insightful questions. In fact, the question time went way over and spilled well into the slot scheduled for lunch. I came away with the feeling that, if these women were any indication, then the future of physics was in good hands.
One of the questions they asked was about how to respond to their male classmates who taunted them about attending a conference about women in physics. What about the men? This is an all too familiar theme. I’ve heard the same type of sentiment expressed by both men and women about attendance at the Women in Astronomy conferences, about the continuation of the AAS solar physics division’s women’s lunch, and about the very existence of the Committee on the Status of Women in Astronomy. It may not be easy to justify these efforts if you have not had some time to think about them, but as a longtime member of CSWA, I’ve had plenty of time. The answer I shared with an auditorium full of young women went something like this: when men become an underrepresented group in physics and astronomy, they can have their own conferences, lunches, and committees to promote gender equality. Heck, if that happens before I retire, I would be happy to join the Committee on the Status of Men in Astronomy and help identify and overcome issues holding men back.
To read more, please seeBack to top.
2. Response #1 to arguments against affirmative action
From: John Johnson via womeninastronomy.blogspot.com
Last year presented a hypothetical scenario in which a university incentivized an astronomy department to diversify their faculty. I wrote
"A top-25 astronomy department has a major gender imbalance on their faculty. Let's say the fraction of women professors is below 10% of the overall faculty (This is a safe example since we don't actually know of such a department, do we? Right? Anyone?).
"Let's suppose that the upper administrators at said hypothetical university (e.g. the Dean of Sciences) would like to address this problem with a radical approach. If the astronomy department conducts a programmatic search for a woman junior professor and identifies a candidate that meets the high bar expected of the university and department, then a special faculty line will be made available that won't count against future departmental hires."
I then solicited arguments against such an effort. I had several motivations in soliciting these arguments. First, I really want to get the lay of the land. I've heard scattered bits and pieces of arguments against affirmative action policies (e.g. "They're unfair to white men!" or "Women are getting jobs unfairly."), and I like to be prepared when discussing them. The comments I received motivated me to read up on the subject, and talk to more knowledgeable friends and experts. I also wanted to spark a community discussion on the topic, which based on the comments to my first post, on Facebook and in emails sent to me, I think I succeeded, at least amongst the people paying any sort of attention to the issue.
To read more, please seeBack to top.
3. Career Profiles: Astronomy to Data Scientist at Fidelity Investments
From: Laura Trouille via womeninastronomy.blogspot.com
The AAS Committee on the Status of Women in Astronomy and the AAS Employment Committee have compiled dozens of interviews highlighting the diversity of career trajectories available to astronomers. The interviews share advice and lessons learned from individuals on those paths.
Below is our interview with Melissa Nysewander, an astronomer turned data scientist at Fidelity Investments. If you have questions, suggestions, advice to share, etc. about this career path, please leave a comment below.
To read more, please seeBack to top.
4. American Physical Society to form ad hoc committee on LGBT issues
In response to a formal request from the LGBT+ Physicists, APS will form an ad hoc committee to investigate the status of physicists who identify as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender (LGBT), and other sexual and gender minorities. Little is known about the numbers of LGBT+ physicists and there has been no systematic study of the issues they face. The LGBT+ Physicists have organized networking events and roundtable discussions at APS meetings, and held an invited session at the 2012 March Meeting on Sexual and Gender Diversity Issues in Physics. They have also put together a best practices guide for physics departments, which is available along with other resources at lgbtphysicists.orgBack to top.
5. Ban Bossy
From: Daryl Haggard [dhaggard_at_northwestern.edu]
[This campaign is aimed at promoting leadership skills in girls and young women. It is being promoted during Women's History Month week by Lean In, Girls Scouts, and others. -eds]
When a little boy asserts himself, he's called a "leader." Yet when a little girl does the same, she risks being branded "bossy." Words like bossy send a message: don't raise your hand or speak up. By middle school, girls are less interested in leading than boys -- a trend that continues into adulthood. Together we can encourage girls to lead.
To learn more, please seeBack to top.
6. Astrobiology Graduate Conference 2014
From: Brett McGuire via Nancy Morrison [NMorris_at_utnet.utoledo.edu]
It is with great pleasure that I'd like to announce that applications for the 2014 Astrobiology Graduate Conference (AbGradCon) are now open. AbGradCon provides a unique setting for astrobiologically-inclined graduate students and early career researchers to come together to share their research, collaborate, and network, without the presence of senior researchers and PIs. AbGradCon 2014 marks the tenth year of this conference - each time in a different place and organized by a different group of students.
This year, the conference will be held at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York from July 27 - July 31.
AbGradCon is truly a unique and rewarding experience. It is a rare opportunity to learn how your own work fits into the hugely interdisciplinary big picture that is Astrobiology. The presentations and discussion at AbGradCon have the same level of scientific rigor found at more traditional meetings, but with the added benefit of the more fluid interaction one expects from one's peers.
Astrochemistry and Laboratory Astrophysics have traditionally been under-represented disciplines at the meeting, so I would very much appreciate it if you could spread the word to interested students and postdocs about the conference, and encourage them to apply. We expect to be able to fund ~70 participants from US institutions this year. Funded participants receive room & board and a significant bursary to cover airfare.
Please see our website, www.abgradcon.org, for additional details and to apply.Back to top.
7. How to Submit to the AASWOMEN newsletter
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9. Access to Past Issues
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