Sunday, May 18, 2014

AASWOMEN Newsletter for May 16, 2014

AAS Committee on the Status of Women
Issue of May 16, 2014
eds: Michele M. Montgomery, Daryl Haggard, Nick Murphy, & Nicolle Zellner

SPECIAL EDITION: Fed Up with Sexual Harassment 

1. Defining the Problem
2. Survival of the Clueless
3. The Serial Harasser's Playbook
4. Power to Speak Up
5. Fed Up with Sexual Harassment
6. How to Submit to the AASWomen Newsletter
7. How to Subscribe or Unsubscribe to the AASWomen Newsletter
8. Access to Past Issues of the AASWomen Newsletter

1. Fed Up With Sexual Harassment: Defining the Problem
From: John Johnson via

…I think it's very important to point out one important aspect of sexual harassment in comparison to the other factors that impede equal access in astronomy, such as the two-body problem, implicit (unconscious) bias, stereotype threat, lack of family leave policies at our institutions, etc. Of all of these various factors, sexual harassment is specifically prohibited by federal law. If we can't solve an illegal barrier for women in astronomy, how can we tackle the other issues that prevent equal opportunities for employment in our field? 

We astronomers depend on our brains to do our job. Because the same brain that we use to solve differential equations and write computer code is the same brain used to process our social environment, sexual harassment of any kind most certainly interferes with astronomers' ability to do their jobs.

Read more at 

2. Fed Up With Sexual Harassment: Survival of the Clueless
From: Joan Schmelz via

Long-term readers of the Women in Astronomy Blogspot will know that I “Came Out” as a victim of sexual harassment in 2011... Helping victims navigate the confusing rules, hazardous landscapes, and blame-the-victim strategies has been part of my raison d’etre since joining CSWA. I am amazed at how much sexual harassment still goes on in the astronomy community. Unfortunately, it is not just a thing of the past. 

Read more about how sexual harassment manifests itself in the 21st century at 

3.  Fed Up With Sexual Harassment: The Serial Harasser's Playbook
From: John Johnson via

…rather than publicly naming the (well-known) serial harassers in astronomy, I'll instead publish their (combined) playbook. I've witnessed some of these individuals practice their "craft," and I've heard even more stories. What's remarkable is how consistent they are in doing what they do. I realize there is some risk in publishing this, because it may cause the offenders to change up their strategy. It'll also no doubt ruffle feathers because sexual harassment is such a powerful and effective tool in maintaining a power imbalance in our field. But I figure that risk is nowhere near as bad as allowing them to negatively impact further lives through their actions.  

To read the Serial Harasser’s Playbook, please see

4. Fed Up With Sexual Harassment: Power to Speak Up
From: Caitlin Casey via

I haven’t always been an advocate for “women’s issues” in academia.  I have distinct [not-so-distant] memories of rolling my eyes when hearing about ‘diversity workshops’ or scholarship/fellowship opportunities only available to women or men of color or white women.  I thought we were beyond this. I thought the playing field was leveled.  I even thought such `nonsense’ did a disservice to underrepresented groups in science by unnecessarily reminding them of their uphill battle and struggles of the past.  And then I had a major wake up call.

Read more about Caitlin’s experiences at 

5. Fed Up with Sexual Harassment
From: Dara Norman via

Editor’s Note: This is  a reprint of Dara Norman's January 2014 STATUS article.

I am not too social with my media and I am not much for reading blogs. However, even lacking modern connectivity, I still managed to hear about the “urban whore” episode through the electronic grapevine (a listserver). The outrage of the sender and the sketchiness of the account made me immediately curious. A very brief synopsis is that an African American femalescientist who writes a blog for Scientific American under the title “Urban Scientist” was asked to contribute to another science blog. When she inquired about compensation, she was asked, in an email, by the editor if she was “an urban scientist or an urban whore.”  Googling “urban whore” turned out to be sufficient to get the story.

Read more about Dara’s reaction – and her advice to the community – at

6. How to Submit to the AASWOMEN newsletter

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8. Access to Past Issues

Each annual summary includes an index of topics covered.

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