Friday, June 13, 2014

AASWOMEN Newsletter for June 13, 2014

AAS Committee on the Status of Women
Issue of June 13, 2014
eds: Daryl Haggard, Nicolle Zellner, Meredith Hughes, & Caroline Simpson

This week's issues:

1. A Great Reason for Prospective Graduate Students to Pick Princeton 
2. Sexual Harassment: One campus's response
3. Sexual Harassment: Understanding the Impact of Advisors who Prey on Students
4. Career Profiles: Astronomer to Data Scientist
5. Parking and the Professor
6. A Test That Fails
7. Outstanding Doctoral Thesis in Astrophysics Award
8. How to Submit to the AASWomen Newsletter
9. How to Subscribe or Unsubscribe to the AASWomen Newsletter
10. Access to Past Issues of the AASWomen Newsletter

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1. A Great Reason for Prospective Graduate Students to Pick Princeton 
From: David Charbonneau via womeninastronomy.blogspot.com

As a Harvard professor, I never thought I would write a post with THAT title!

But after my national survey of all PhD-granting departments (and joint departments) of astronomy or astrophysics (there are 28 of them), Princeton has emerged hands-down as the winner for financially supporting graduate students with young children.   

Read more about Princeton’s policy at


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2. Sexual Harassment: One campus's response
From: Ed Bertschinger via womeninastronomy.blogspot.com

MIT is not on the list of colleges and universities with current or recent sexual violence investigations conducted by the US Departments of Education and Justice.  Yet we have sexual violence on our campus and are committed to eliminating it.  

More than a year ago, student sexual assault survivors came to speak with me seeking advice about how to reach faculty with their stories, as they felt it was important for faculty members to be aware of the problem of sexual violence so that they could be part of the solution.  I was the physics department head with no direct responsibility for student life but I helped the students to increase awareness among faculty.  They felt empowered to tell their stories.  Last fall, students began speaking about their experiences to housemasters (faculty members resident in dormitories) and others.  Telling one's story can be very difficult but helps others to see.

Read more about MIT’s story, from the perspective of a faculty leader.at 


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3. Sexual Harassment: Understanding the Impact of Advisors who Prey on Students
From: Anonymous via womeninastronomy.blogspot.com

Let me start with four words that no manager should ever say to a sexual harassment victim who comes to him or her for help: “Just get over it.”  These are the words that my most senior manager said to me after every step in the process for dealing with sexual harassment failed.  

I work at a non-academic research institute where I conducted my PhD research with my advisor, a senior scientist in our organization, and have remained to work on other projects independent of him.  At the time that I was working for my advisor, he had absolute control over my academic and professional life.  During this time he tried to get me to sleep with him, after which I spent almost four years in a state of terror because of his change in behavior towards me when I indicated that I was not interested in such an inappropriate relationship.  When I went to managers and human resources for help, every effort was made to silence me and to protect my advisor.  This is an ongoing situation and my only choice may eventually be to leave the field. 

Read more about this person’s experiences at


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4.  Career Profiles: Astronomer to Data Scientist
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 Jessica Kirkpatrick, as astronomer turned data scientist. She went directly from graduate school to working as a data scientist for Microsoft/Yammer and recently became Director of Data Science at the education start-up InstaEDU. If you have questions, suggestions, advice to share, etc. about this career path, please leave a comment below.

To read the interview with Jessica Kirkpatrick, please see 


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5. Parking and the Professor
From: Anonymous

I read this newsletter weekly and it has always been a relief to know that other people are thinking about the bias facing women in academia and society as a whole. This past week I read Christina Richey’s article that mentioned that we teach our daughters how to avoid getting raped and it resonated with me. Now that I’m a professor, I thought that I was beyond that - that I knew all the precautions and could be safe without it interfering with my life and work. It turns out that being a young female professor provides a new set of challenges.

Last night, I went to an event hosted by my professional organization… and it ran late. [After a series of events, including a dead cell phone], students kindly offered to walk me to my car. And I accepted. And I felt safer than if I had walked alone. But I felt sad because, to these students, I am The Professor. How can I be an authority figure, if I cannot walk in a city at night alone? 

So a word of advice to all those new professors out there: until we no longer have to teach our daughters how to “not get raped”, pay for [close-by] parking.

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6. A Test That Fails
From: Nicolle Zellner [nzellner_at_albion.edu]

Another study, this one by Casey Miller and Kevin Stassun, has found no link between GRE scores and success in graduate school. According to data from Educational Testing Service (ETS), “women score 80 points lower on average in the physical sciences than do men, and African Americans score 200 points below white people.” Thus, when some admission committees use minimum GRE scores to filter applications, they miss well-qualified candidates. “In simple terms, the GRE is a better indicator of sex and skin colour than of ability and ultimate success”, report Miller and Stassun.

Read more about these findings at 


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7. Outstanding Doctoral Thesis in Astrophysics Award
From: Daryl Haggard [dhaggard_at_northwestern.edu]

Call for Nominations for the Outstanding Doctoral Thesis in AstrophysicsAward

Starting this year, the Division of Astrophysics (DAP) has established an Outstanding Doctoral Thesis in Astrophysics Award. The award recognizes exceptional young scientists who have performed original doctoral thesis work of outstanding scientific quality and achievement in the area of astrophysics. The annual award consists of $1,000 and a certificate citing the contribution made by the recipient. Three finalists will receive travel stipends of $750 to present their work in invited sessions at the April APS meeting, and their presentations will be considered along with their other qualifications in choosing the award recipient.

A nomination from the thesis advisor will be accepted for any doctoral student at a university in the United States or abroad whose thesis topic is appropriate for the DAP (i.e., it deals with topics that are typically presented in DAP sponsored or co-sponsored sessions at the April APS meeting) and who is a member of the DAP. Nominees for the 2015 Award must have passed their thesis defenses in 2013 or 2014.

It is important to remember the membership of APS is diverse and global, so the Prize and Award winners as well as Fellows of the APS should reflect that diversity. Nominations of women, members of underrepresented minority groups, and scientists from outside the United States are especially encouraged.

The deadline for submission of nominations for the 2015 award is August 1, 2014. 

For detailed guidelines and to submit a nomination, see


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8. How to Submit to the AASWOMEN newsletter

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. 

When submitting a job posting for inclusion in the newsletter, please include a one-line description and a link to the full job posting. 

Please remember to replace "_at_" in the e-mail address above.

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9. How to Subscribe or Unsubscribe to the AASWOMEN newsletter

Join AAS Women List by email: 

Send email to aaswlist+subscribe_at_aas.org from the address you want to have subscribed. You can leave the subject and message blank if you like. 

Be sure to follow the instructions in the confirmation email. (Just reply back to the email list) 

To unsubscribe by email: 

Send email to aawlist+unsubscribe_at_aas.org from the address you want to have UNsubscribed. You can leave the subject and message blank if you like. 

To join or leave AASWomen via web, or change your membership settings: 

https://groups.google.com/a/aas.org/group/aaswlist  

You will have to create a Google Account if you do not already have one, using https://accounts.google.com/newaccount?hl=en  

Google Groups Subscribe Help: 


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10. Access to Past Issues


Each annual summary includes an index of topics covered.