Monday, September 12, 2011

AASWOMEN for September 9, 2011

AAS Committee on the Status of Women
Issue of September 9, 2011
eds. Joan Schmelz, Caroline Simpson, and Michele Montgomery

This week's issues:

1. Invitation to Subscribe to the AASWOMEN Newsletter

2. Berkeley Women in Science and Engineering: Our Struggle for Equality

3. How Things Have Changed (for the Better!)

4. America Needs More Women in the Sciences

5. Top 5 Myths About Girls, Math and Science

6. When Programming was Considered Women's Work

7. How to Submit to the AASWOMEN Newsletter

8. How to Subscribe or Unsubscribe to the AASWOMEN Newsletter

9. Access to Past Issues of the AASWOMEN Newsletter


1. Invitation to Subscribe to the AASWOMEN Newsletter
From: The Editors [aaswomen_at_aas.org]

The Committee on the Status of Women in Astronomy (CSWA) strives to create a climate of equal opportunity in hiring, promotion, salary, and in access to research opportunities and infrastructure at all levels within the field of astronomy ranging from undergraduate and graduate programs and then throughout a career in teaching, research, and/or other astronomy-related fields such as public outreach.

AASWOMEN is CSWA's weekly electronic newsletter. As a new academic year begins, we invite you to help us expand our community of readers and contributors. Please forward this issue to any new students, post-docs, and scientists that may be interested.

To subscribe (or unsubscribe):

http://lists.aas.org/cgi-bin/mailman/listinfo/aaswlist

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2. Berkeley Women in Science and Engineering: Our Struggle for Equality
From: Laura Trouille [l-trouille_at_northwestern.edu]

This article was posted by Liz Boatman in the Berkeley Science Review:

The University of California, Berkeley was founded in 1868. At that time, female faculty and students were virtually non-existent in all of higher education, not just in physical science and engineering disciplines. Here at UC Berkeley, women were not allowed to enter the Faculty Club unescorted by a male until 1915. Female faculty were still restricted from certain areas of the facility for another 40 years; at the entrance to the Great Hall, a large sign was hung that read "For Men Only". (No wonder the females established their own social parlor next door, the Women's Faculty Club!) Nowhere on campus, however, is the ongoing battle for equal opportunity as visible today as it is in the north-east corner. Our College of Engineering (COE) is ranked 3rd in the world, but the first female professor was not granted tenure in mechanical engineering until the 1990s.

I recently spoke with that professor, Lisa Pruitt, and she mentioned that the success in retention of women faculty in engineering disciplines goes up dramatically when women are hired in bunches. At the time, this was a radical concept to me, but later I thought about why I chose UC Berkeley for graduate school after doing my B.S. in physics: more women. I am still here now, many trials and tribulations later, and it is my female peers upon whom I rely regularly for support. Apparently, I have been unknowingly participating in this same sociological experiment, and the results are not surprising: like the female faculty, the female graduate students do better in bunches.

These days, there are female faculty serving as department chairs and in dean positions; clearly, science and engineering career paths for women in academia have improved. We can be thankful that there are now laws preventing gender discrimination in the form of unequal pay or lab space allocation. So, yes, the situation is better than it was in the 1800s (and it only took 140 years, give or take). The unfortunate consequence of "better," however, is that female faculty in science and engineering now face an entirely new type of gender bias.

To read more:

http://sciencereview.berkeley.edu/graduate-women-in-science-and-engineering-our-struggle-for-equality

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3. How Things Have Changed (for the Better!)
From: Joan Schmelz [jschmelz_at_memphis.edu]

For this week's story of how things have changed for women in astronomy, I have borrowed the words of a living legend, Dr. Margaret Burbidge. Margaret wrote an article for the Jan 2000 issue of STATUS entitled, "Glass Ceilings and Ivory Towers:"

http://www.aas.org/cswa/status/status_jan00.pdf

The editors described Margaret as, "a professor emeritus in the Physics Department and an astronomer at the Center for Astrophysics and Space Sciences at the University of California, San Diego. She entered astronomy at a time when there were few women and their access to astronomical facilities was severely restricted. She not only transcended these obstacles, she made countless critical contributions to the field, as attested by numerous honors and awards, including (naming only a few) the Presidential Medal of Science, the Henry Norris Russell Lectureship of the American Astronomical Society, and membership in the National Academy of Science."

Margaret wrote: "Yet when I describe the ban on women using the Mt. Wilson telescopes that prevented me from being considered as a possible candidate for a Carnegie Fellowship in 1947, I am met quite often with surprise: "You mean women were not allowed to observe with the 60- and 100-inch telescopes?" I then have to explain that the ban was peculiar to the Carnegie Observatories directorship and tradition, and was indeed circumvented eight years later by pressure from the California Institute of Technology (Professors William A. Fowler and Robert Bacher)."

Next week's story is about how textbooks have changed. If you have a story to share about the "old days" on textbooks or any other subject, please send it to me at the address above.

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4. America Needs More Women in the Sciences
From: Joan Schmelz [jschmelz_at_memphis.edu]

Steve and Cokie Roberts wrote this article for the Bemidji Pioneer:

It's already back-to-school time for many kids. As they again stuff their hefty backpacks, here's what won't be in enough of them: science, technology, engineering and math books. Girls, especially, will not be weighted down by those texts, and that's a problem for those girls and for the country.

To compete in the world economy and preserve the lifestyle Americans expect, the nation needs innovative and scientifically savvy workers. And if girls want their paychecks to come close to those of the boys in their classrooms, they need to study those so-called STEM subjects.

Early this month, the Commerce Department issued a report showing that women who work in fields such as computer science and engineering have more employment security and higher incomes - 33 percent higher - than women in other jobs. In STEM jobs, the gender pay gap shrinks markedly; women make almost as much as men do. But, even though a majority of college graduates are women and they're almost half of the workforce, women hold only about a quarter of the positions in these lucrative fields. That number has stayed steady over the last 10 years, even as educated women have marched into the workplace in greater numbers.

To read more:

http://www.bemidjipioneer.com/event/article/id/100031013/group/Opinion

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5. Top 5 Myths About Girls, Math, and Science
From: Joan Schmelz [jschmelz_at_memphis.edu]

LiveScience debunks the top 5 myths about girls, math, and science:

The days of sexist science teachers and Barbies chirping that "math class is tough!" are over, according to pop culture, but a government program aimed at bringing more women and girls into science, technology, engineering and math fields suggests otherwise.

Below are five myths about girls and science that still endure, according to the National Science Foundation's (NSF) Research on Gender in Science and Engineering (GSE) program:

Myth 1: From the time they start school, most girls are less interested in science than boys are.

Reality: In elementary school about as many girls as boys have positive attitudes toward science. A recent study of fourth graders showed that 66 percent of girls and 68 percent of boys reported liking science. But something else starts happening in elementary school. By second grade, when students (both boys and girls) are asked to draw a scientist, most portray a white male in a lab coat. Any woman scientist they draw looks severe and not very happy. The persistence of the stereotypes start to turn girls off, and by eighth grade, boys are twice as interested in STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) careers as girls are. The female attrition continues throughout high school, college and even the work force. Women with STEM higher education degrees are twice as likely to leave a scientific or engineering job as men with comparable STEM degrees.

To read more:

http://www.livescience.com/7349-top-5-myths-girls-math-science.html

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6. When Programming was Considered Women's Work
From: Joan Schmelz [jschmelz_at_memphis.edu]

Anna Lewis wrote this article for the Cap Times:

"It's just like planning a dinner," Adm. Grace Hopper, a computer science pioneer, told readers in a 1967 Cosmopolitan magazine story. "You have to plan ahead and schedule everything so it's ready when you need it." Pot roast or computer programming - both, Cosmo told its readers, could be women's work.

I first came across that article this summer when I was working in recruiting at a software company. I'd spent the past year trying to get more undergraduate women to apply for our summer internship program. I kept seeing reports that the number of women majoring in computer science was growing. It was about 25 percent at certain elite institutions, such as Harvard, MIT and Carnegie Mellon. (Little to no increase has been observed at other universities.) That seemed like good news for people in my field - the business of getting a diverse and talented group of people to design software. But it wasn't exactly a triumphant rise. It's just a slow climb back to where things used to be.

When Cosmo's "The Computer Girls" ran, 11 percent of computer science majors were women. In the late 1970s, the percentage of women in the field approached and exceeded the same figure we are applauding today: 25 percent. The portion of women earning computer science degrees rose rise steadily, peaking at 37 percent in 1984.

To read more:

http://host.madison.com/ct/news/opinion/column/article_f4998199-070a-590a-a20a-a8387e6db423.html

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7. How to Submit

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.

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8. How to Subscribe or Unsubscribe

To subscribe or unsubscribe to the AASWOMEN newsletter, please fill in the required information at:

http://lists.aas.org/cgi-bin/mailman/listinfo/aaswlist .

If you experience any problems, please email itdept_at_aas.org

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9. Access to Past Issues

http://www.aas.org/cswa/AASWOMEN.html

Each annual summary includes an index of topics covered.

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