Sunday, September 7, 2014

AASWOMEN Newsletter for September 5, 2014

AAS Committee on the Status of Women
Issue of September 5, 2014
eds: Daryl Haggard, Nicolle Zellner, Meredith Hughes, & Elysse Voyer

From: John Johnson via
In my previous post I provided an update on the number and percentage of women hired in tenure-track professor positions over the past year. In 2014, women were hired into 40% of available positions, representing a remarkable 16 out of 40 hires…

However, there is another way to look at the underrepresentation of women in astronomy in the past: look at it instead as an overrepresentation of men. Take for example the number and breakdown of PhDs awarded by the Harvard Astronomy program in the 1980s. From 1980-1989, Harvard awarded 41 PhDs, but only 4 of these went to women (9.8%). Why did men have such a lopsided advantage in earning PhDs in astronomy from one of the top US astronomy institutions?

Read more at 

From: Joan Schmlez via

The 2010 report entitled, Why So Few? Women in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics, by the American Association of University Women (AAUW), investigates the effects of college climate on female faculty in STEM fields. This chart shows the percentage of tenured and nontenured faculty who are women in selected STEM fields. First, we see that women make up a smaller share of faculty in engineering, the physical sciences, and computer and information sciences compared to the biological/life sciences (which is shown on the bottom of the graph). Second, we see that women make up a far smaller share of the tenured faculty in all these fields. This is significant because tenured positions are the more secure, higher-paying, and higher-status positions in higher education. Overall, there are fewer women in tenured positions in STEM fields than one would expect given the number of women earning Ph.D.s in these fields.

See the chart and

From:  David Charbonneau via

I will honor Labor Day 2014 by fixing a longstanding cancer in my life: My smartphone is hereafter going to have an [sic] circumscribed role in my time and mind.

In many ways, my smartphone has been a great help with work-life balance. It has allowed much more flexible work hours: If I need to leave work early because my child is sick at school, or to run a family errand, I can still login to release that grant proposal by the 5pm deadline. And as an observational astronomer, there will always be odd hours when I need to be available to answer questions that are emerging while a collaborator is at the telescope. When on business travel, it helps me keep the day-to-day administrative work of research and grant related questions rolling along while I am sitting at the airport.

But then I catch myself checking email first thing in the morning while I am still in bed. Or checking it while cooking dinner for my family. Or checking it while helping my daughter with homework.

From: John Johnson via

Update: The numbers below have been updated thanks to the careful verification of the anonymous commenter and the updated status of the UCSB and Illinois hires (Ruth Murray-Clay and Ryan Foley, respectively). 

Read the updated post at

From: Kevin Marvel []

The AAS Council has established a program to enable people from disadvantaged groups to attend society meetings. To enhance the diversity of attendees, FAMOUS (Funds for Astronomical Meetings: Outreach to Underrepresented Scientists) grants, in the amount of up to $1000 will be awarded to AAS members to present his or her research. 

For more information, please see

From: Laura Trouille via

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 Leslie John Sage, an astronomer turned Senior Editor for Nature. After two postdocs and a year as a visiting assistant professor, he switched into the field of publishing as an editor at Nature. He is very satisfied with his job and particularly enjoys helping people present their science in the clearest, most straightforward way. If you have questions, suggestions, advice to share, etc. about this career path, please leave a comment below.

To read the interview with Leslie John Sage, please see 

From: Nicolle Zellner []

In early August, hundreds of women from about 50 countries gathered in Waterloo, Canada for the International Conference on Women in Physics.  “Despite cultural and geographic divides separating the home countries of many of the women, their stories were remarkably similar…Many told of being the only female physicist in their department, and quite a few said they were the only, or one of just a small handful of, female physicists in their entire countries.”

Read a sampling of what women wrote when asked to describe the situation for female physicists in their home countries at

Read another viewpoint, from CSWA member Ed Bertschinger, at

From: Jessica Kirkpatrick []

Why should we care if girls remain underrepresented in STEM? Apart from basic fairness, if we want our best and brightest working on innovative ideas and creative solutions, it makes little sense to potentially abandon half the population. We already face many hurdles; lack of funding, lack of jobs, and pushback from science denialists backed by populist politics. We need all hands on deck to forge ahead. We must look to nurture, not nature, for change.


From: Nicolle Zellner []

A team of University of Illinois students have created dolls based on real people, as an alternative to Barbie or American Girl dolls. Their goal is to inspire girls to become scientists by offering dolls based on Marie Curie, Bessie Coleman, and Ada Lovelace. 

Read a short summary at 

See the Miss Possible website at 


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