Friday, September 12, 2014

AASWOMEN Newsletter for September 12, 2014

AAS Committee on the Status of Women AAS Committee on the Status of Women
Issue of September 12, 2014
eds: Daryl Haggard, Nicolle Zellner, Meredith Hughes, & Elysse Voyer

SPECIAL EDITION: Fed Up with Sexual Harassment II: The Solutions Series

1. The Solutions Series

2. Information Escrows

3. The Astronomy Allies Program

4. The SAFE study w/ Dr. Kate Clancy

5. Strategies for Addressing and Overcoming 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 II: The Solutions Series
From: Joan Schmelz via

The Fed Up with Sexual Harassment series included some of the most viewed posts in the history of the Women in Astronomy blog. In the wake of this series, those involved in its production wanted to follow up with a second series focused on solutions.

Since blogging about my own sexual harassment experience and talking with many of you about yours, I have been amazed to learn how common harassment remains in the astronomy community. Of course there can be a whole range of sexual harassment experiences - from a one-time creepy encounter, to surviving in a toxic environment, to career threatening repercussions. I personally came all too close to having my career destroyed because of sexual harassment.

Two questions always seem to drive the discussion following one of these posts. The first is why victims don't just file a formal complaint and let the system handle it. The second is why we don't name the harassers. One commenter sums it up: "This is criminal behavior no less serious than abuse or assault. We don't slink around giving perpetrators of assault a pass, so why do it for serial harassers? Why protect them at the expense of their prey? If someone assaults someone else on the street and the assaulter is called to account for his/her actions, their name is given. Same here."

To read more please see

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2. Fed Up With Sexual Harassment II: Information Escrows
From: Mordecai-Mark Mac Low via

[Our guest blogger is Mordecai-Mark Mac Low. Mordecai is a curator in the Department of Astrophysics at the American Museum of Natural History, where he leads a research group studying the formation of planets and stars and the structure of the interstellar gas, and has curated the Space Shows "Journey to the Stars" (w/Rebecca Oppenheimer) and "Dark Universe."]

After Eliot Rodger's rampage, the hashtags #notallmen and #yesallwomen swept Twitter, expressing the reality that although most men do not engage in sexual assaults or harassment, the ones that do tend to be serial offenders (e.g., sec 5.6 in this federal report from 1981, "Sexual Harassment in the Federal Workplace: Is It a Problem?", or Lucero et al. 2003, "An Empirical Investigation of Sexual Harassers: Toward a Perpetrator Typology" Hum. Rel., 56, 1461), ensuring that almost all women have had to deal with such problems at some level. (Although male victims may be slightly less common, and female perpetrators more so, both appear to suffer from even more overwhelming underreporting than the usual narrative.)

However, in the adversarial system of justice in the US, each single victim must prove the circumstances of her (or his) harassment against resistance from the harasser. As a result there are strong reasons for any individual victim to not make a complaint that might end up as a test of credibility against a perpetrator. If other victims make follow-on claims confirming a pattern of abuse, though, the credibility of the case will be substantially enhanced.

To read more please see

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3. Fed Up With Sexual Harassment II: The Astronomy Allies Program
From: Katey Alatalo via

[Our guest blogger is Katey Alatalo. Katey is a postdoc at the Infrared Processing and Analysis Center at Caltech. Her research interests include using CARMA and ALMA to map cold molecular gas in candidates from AGN feedback and using Herschel to map the conditions in shocked molecular gas in interacting groups of galaxies.]

Suppose you are standing at your AAS poster, and someone is monopolizing your time and standing way too close. Suppose you meet a senior scientist at the AAS meeting, and s/he asks you to dinner under the pretext of discussing your work, but the conversation gets way too personal. Suppose you drink a bit too much or stay out a bit too late at the AAS party, and you need a safe way to get back to your hotel. What do you do? Contact Astronomy Allies.

To read more please see

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4. Fed Up With Sexual Harassment II: The SAFE study w/ Dr. Kate Clancy
From: Christina Richey via

The "Survey of Academic Field Experiences (SAFE): Trainees Report Harassment and Assault" study that was published in PLOS ONE on July 16, 2014 by the team of biological anthropologists Kate Clancy (UIUC), Robin Nelson (Skidmore), Julienne Rutherford (UIC), and Katie Hinde (Harvard) revealed several issues relating to harassment and assault within the field of anthropology.

Some of the issues highlighted:

-A lack of awareness on codes of conduct and sexual harassment policies.
-2/3 of the 666 respondents reported some form of harassment (71% of women respondents and 41% of men respondents) or assault (26% of women respondents).
-90% of women and 70% of men were trainees or employees when harassed or assaulted.
-Perpetrators of harassment and assault differed between men and women, with women typically being targeted by people senior to them and men by peers.

Dr. Kate Clancy was kind enough to be interviewed for lessons learned from the study, how this results may impact other scientific fields (like astronomy), and next steps for solving the issues at hand.

To read more please see

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5. Fed Up With Sexual Harassment II: Strategies for Addressing and Overcoming Harassment
From: Sheryl Bruff and Bernice Durand via

[Reproduced from the July Issue of STATUS: A report on Women in Astronomy. By Sheryl Bruff, Branch Chief of Human Resources, Space Telescope Science Institute and Bernice Durand, Emerita Vice Provost for Diversity and Climate at the University of Wisconsin.]

The American Astronomical Society (AAS) has an anti-harassment policy [1], and has stated its commitment to leadership in developing “people” skills and its desire to identify and disseminate best practices and tools. This talk was proposed and developed to further the AAS membership’s knowledge of what constitutes harassment and how individuals and institutions should respond to it. It was presented at the Seattle Annual Meeting of the American Astronomical Society January 10, 2011.

To read more please see

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6. How to Submit to the AASWOMEN newsletter

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7. How to Subscribe or Unsubscribe 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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