Issue of January 15, 2016
eds: Daryl Haggard, Nicolle Zellner, Elysse Voyer, & Heather Flewelling
This week's issues:
1. Sexual Harassment in Astronomy & Physics
From: Daryl Haggard [daryl.haggard_at_mcgill.ca]
[The articles below outline new disclosures of misconduct by professors Christian Ott (Caltech) and Timothy Slater (Wyoming). Please support the brave individuals who reported these violations and discuss sexual and other harassment at all levels in your departments/institutions. Change starts with you.
Trigger warning: Some content in the links below is explicit and contains information which may be triggering to survivors. -Eds]
Rep Jackie Speier on Why She's Taking on Sexual Harassment in Science by Sarah Zhang http://www.wired.com/2016/01/jackie-speier-sexual-harassment-science
This Professor Fell In Love With His Grad Student — Then Fired Her For It by Azeen Ghorayshi http://www.buzzfeed.com/azeenghorayshi/ott-harassment-investigation
Caltech suspends professor for harassment by Jeffrey Mervis http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2016/01/caltech-suspends-professor-harassment-0
Astronomy roiled again by sexual-harassment allegations by Alexandra Witze http://www.nature.com/news/astronomy-roiled-again-by-sexual-harassment-allegations-1.19153
Stories Spill Out as Spotlight Is Shined on Sexism in Astronomy by Karen Workman http://www.nytimes.com/2016/01/15/science/stories-spill-out-as-spotlight-is-shined-on-sexism-in-astronomy.htmlBack to top.
2. What astronomy can do about sexual harassment
From: Heather Flewelling [heather_at_ifa.hawaii.edu]
By Meg Urry
Last fall, the world of astronomy was rocked by a major sexual harassment scandal. A professor retired early because a Title IX investigation concluded he had sexually harassed students.
Last week, at its annual winter conference, the American Astronomical Society held a well-attended plenary session to address harassment and next steps.
To read more, please seeBack to top.
3. Astronomy Without a PhD
From: Jessica Mink via womeninastronomy.blogspot.com
As much as the astronomical community is spending more time considering alternate paths for PhD astronomers, we, as a community dedicated to inclusiveness, should look at alternate paths that have been and can be taken into professional astronomy. For various reasons, some of which may be related to my personal gender issues and others due to the way my mind works (or doesn't), I was not a great candidate for a PhD. program when I was in my 20's.
In the process of organizing and attending the Inclusive Astronomy conference last summer, I started out representing transgender people in astronomy, but realized that I was part of another group which had been largely excluded from consideration during that conference, astronomers without doctorates.
To read more, please seeBack to top.
4. Proudness: What Is It? Why Is It Important? And How Do We Design for It in College Physics and Astronomy Education?
From: Jessica Kirkpatrick via womeninastronomy.blogspot.com
[Dr. Angela Little is a postdoctoral researcher at Michigan State University. Her current research asks: "How do students develop a sense that they are capable in physics?" She is also exploring multimedia as a tool to bring many cross-disciplinary and within/outside academia voices together around the idea of "feeling capable." This article expands on her invited talk given at the 225th AAS Meeting, January, 2015, in Seattle, WA.]
Transitions are tough on students, especially big transitions like the one between high school and college. Among the many reasons why this transition in particular can be tough, a big one is that students from a wide variety of high school preparations are often thrown together into large introductory STEM courses. In these courses, it’s easy to mistake background for innate ability, and students often compare themselves to their classmates through grades and through their relative speed on homework and exams. These comparisons can heavily influence students' decision to major in, for example, computer science and most likely have similar effects on majoring in STEM in general. This tendency to mistake background for ability is likely amplified in courses and majors in physics, math, and computer science, where students face additional U.S. cultural narratives around the need for inherent "genius" ability: either you're a math person or you're not. Researchers have also shown that such genius narratives particularly affect African Americans and women from all racial backgrounds due to U.S. stereotypes about these groups.
NB: The above post was originally written for the June 2015 Status: A Report on Women in Astronomy. The first few paragraphs are reproduced on the Women in Astronomy blog (with permission) here:
And you can read the full article in Status:Back to top.
5. Bias Against Female Instructors
From: Sheila Lyons-Sobaski [ssobaski_at_albion.edu] and Nick Cowan [nicolas.cowan_at_mcgill.ca]
Another study of student satisfaction surveys (i.e. evaluations) provides "evidence against the reliability of student evaluations of teaching, at least for their use in personnel decisions." The authors conducted advanced statistical analyses on five years' worth of data from over 23,000 evaluations.
Read more atBack to top.
6. Would You Go to Mars? Meet the Four Women Astronauts Who Can't Wait to Go
From: Elysse Voyer [elysse.voyer_at_gmail.com]
by Ginny Graves
In first grade Jessica Meir made a drawing of herself standing on the moon. Turns out she underestimated her own ambition: Today, at 38, Meir could become the first human to touch down on an even farther destination: Mars. A next step for man? Yes, and a giant leap for womankind.
The mission itself is at least 15 years away—it will take that long to build and test every last piece of equipment. But it's already the most hotly anticipated space-exploration effort ever. Governments around the world—in China, Europe, and Russia—have plans in the works to at least land robots on Mars, while in the U.S., private companies like SpaceX are partnering with NASA on a human mission and plotting their own commercial trips. And unlike the 1960s race to the moon, this time women are playing pivotal roles—building rockets, designing space suits, and controlling the remote rovers that are already sending momentous insights back from Mars.
To read more, please seeBack to top.
7. Job Opportunities
For those interested in increasing excellence and diversity in their organizations, a list of resources and advice is here: http://www.aas.org/cswa/diversity.html#howtoincrease
- Teaching Assistant/Associate Professor – Physics and Astronomy, University of Denver http://tinyurl.com/jqo8g8x
- Physics Instructor – North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics https://www.governmentjobs.com/careers/northcarolina/jobs/1327136/instructor-of-physicsBack to top.
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