Friday, November 14, 2014

AASWOMEN Newsletter for November 14, 2014

AAS Committee on the Status of Women
Issue of November 14, 2014
eds: Daryl Haggard, Nicolle Zellner, Meredith Hughes, & Elysse Voyer

This week's issues:

From: Jane Rigby via

The other day after work, my wife and I were sprawled on the playroom floor, watching our toddler run in circles. I picked a strewn section of the paper and scanned [an] article.

Confused, I read it more carefully. Was this news? … “He cooks! He does laundry!” seemed so quotidian. I was boiling water for pasta, and planned to do laundry after the kid’s bedtime. Is it still newsworthy to profile a straight couple that shares household duties?

Shortly, this article answered my question, with a truly amazing quote: “I never in my life made a tax return. I never in my life washed a pair of socks or cleaned a pair of shoes,” said one 67-year-old physics professor in a traditional marriage. When asked if having children is difficult to manage with being a scientist, he responded: “No, absolutely not. That’s why you have a wife.”

Read whether or not straight men have different expectations at 

From: Stuart Dean via

Until now you could not find the name of the ancient Greek poet Sappho in any discussion in print or online regarding ancient Greek astronomy.  Such a discussion is long overdue and I think it is best to let Sappho herself begin it: 

“As when down goes the sun/the rosyfingered moon”

Line final ‘sun’ followed by line final ‘moon’ is in effect a ‘visual rhyme,’ implying a scan of the evening sky, looking west then east, with the knowledge that the moon reflects the sun’s light.  Her characterization of the moon as ‘rosyfingered,’ a word otherwise frequently used to describe the sun at dawn, further buttresses the ‘moonlight reflecting sunlight’ reading.

Read more about what Sappho said and when at 

From: Jessica Kirkpatrick via 

Two years ago I made the transition from academic science to data science. There are many aspects of industry that mesh better with my working style. However one very important industry practice that I feel is lacking in academia (at least for many of the people I have spoken to) are mechanisms for regular evaluation and feedback — especially for graduate students and postdocs.

Lately I've been facilitating workshops on the Impostor Syndrome and having many conversations with people about my process of dealing with and overcoming my own impostor feelings. For me a huge problem with my experience in graduate school was a constant nagging fear that I wasn't performing at an adequate level. There are so few metrics by which to measure success…

Read more at 

From: Nicolle Zellner [], Caroline Simpson []

With recent opinion pieces that scientists no longer display sexism in STEM (or not), it should come as a surprise (or not) to see that Rosetta Project Scientist Dr. Matt Taylor wore a shirt covered in sexy chicks during the recent Rosetta comet landing.

Discussion on the "Diversity in Physics and Astronomy" Facebook page revealed that he said things like “She's sexy, but she's not easy" (referring to the comet) and “moving in for the kiss” (referring to the landing).

Read the commentary about how academics isn’t sexist at

and at

Read reactions to Matt Taylor’s shirt at 

or at

You can also follow this thread on Twitter at #shirtgate and #shirtstorm.

From: Nicolle Zellner []

John Nolan’s decision to make Murph, a brilliant scientist and one of the film's central characters, a woman, was reportedly driven by the director’s own relationship with his daughter, a change from the original script of brother Christopher Nolan.

Says portrayer Jessica  Chastain, “Sometimes with girls, they're not given positions in schools where they can be leaders or encouraged when it comes to science…If we do anything…in this film, it will be to encourage young girls to become an astrophysicist…It basically says, there is no limits to whatever you want to become.”


From: Nicolle Zellner []

Seven female engineers, computer scientists, and researchers in the Intelligent Robotics group at NASA Ames Research Center give advice and provide insight on how to “juggle child care and commutes like every other parent, all while building highly technical instruments that will help solve some of the most challenging questions about our universe.”

“I always point out that it’s really fun,” says computer scientist Tamar E. Cohen. “Occasionally [my son and I] stay up late at night and lay on the front lawn and look at the moon and the stars together and talk about the rover we’re sending there in a few years.”


From: Joan Schmelz []

According to data maintained by the board governing the National Science Foundation, women and minorities continue to be underrepresented in engineering, a serious situation that demands our attention.


Read why it is also crucial to increase the numbers of female scientists at

From:  Nicolle Zellner []

The CERN Council has selected Dr. Fabiola Gianotti as the organization’s next Director-General.  Dr. Gianotti is a particle physicist and was the leader of the ATLAS experiment at the Large Hadron Collider.


From: Katherine Alatalo []

In a new study by scientists at the University of Illinois and the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention, “[m]iddle-school boys who bully their peers are 4.6 times more likely to commit sexual harassment two years later, and those who participate in homophobic teasing are 1.6 times more likely to do the same.”


The paper, by Dorothy L. Espelage, Kathleen C. Basile and Merle E. Hamburger, is titled “Longitudinal Associations Among Bully, Homophobic Teasing and Sexual Violence Perpetration Among Middle School Students” and is available online from Sage Journals.


For those interested in increasing excellence and diversity in their organizations, a list of resources and advice is here:

- Postdoctoral position, Stellar Astrophysics and Exoplanet Studies, Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics

- Research and Teaching Postdoc in Astronomy, Amherst College

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