Tuesday, May 30, 2017

The Leavitt Law Revisited

In November 2008, Harvard hosted a symposium to honor the 100th anniversary of Henrietta Leavitt's first presentation on her observations of the period-luminosity relationship seen in Cepheid stars. 

Just a few months later, the AAS Executive Council agreed that this important relation should now be designated as the “Leavitt Law" and  used widely.

I had never heard of this new phrasing until I read Dava Sobel's 2016 book The Glass Universe. I immediately changed my course and lecture notes to reflect this new language. Give credit where credit is due, is a good philosophy to have!

So, to my colleagues I suggest that summer is a great time to update your course and lab notes, worksheets, exams/quizzes, homework assignments, etc., replacing any phrasing related to "period-luminosity relationship" with "the Leavitt Law".  Even better, grab some images and information from the talks posted on the symposium website!

Friday, May 26, 2017

AASWomen Newsletter for May 26, 2017

AAS Committee on the Status of Women
Issue of May 26, 2017
eds: Nicolle Zellner, Heather Flewelling, Christina Thomas, and Maria Patterson

This week's issues:

1. Peer Review as a Lens Into Bias        
2. Is This How Discrimination Ends?
3. Scholarships for Women and Grants for Mothers Added to AAS Resource Page
4. How Women Mentors Make a Difference in Engineering
5. Pearl I. Young
6. Job Opportunities
7. How to Submit to the AASWomen Newsletter
8. How to Subscribe or Unsubscribe to the AASWomen Newsletter
9. Access to Past Issues of the AASWomen Newsletter

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Peer Review as a Lens Into Bias

I have been working to incorporate themes of equity and inclusion into my physics classroom teaching. I’ve blogged about it a bit and some of you have kindly shared your ideas (see here, here, and here). 

In a recent upper-level Astrophysics course, I assigned students a term paper, and required that they participate in a double-blind peer review for their first drafts. (We used a tool called “Peerceptiv” because my University has integrated it into our learning management system, but there are many ways to include peer review in your curriculum.) I wasn’t originally intending this assignment to lead to a conversation about bias, but my students came to me with concerns about the “fairness” of the process: What if another student had a poor opinion of the topic they selected? What if their reviewers didn’t do a good job? Why were we doing it blind, so they didn’t know whose review to take more or less seriously, based on their experience of that student? How could they properly review the paper if they didn’t know who wrote it?

Friday, May 19, 2017

AASWomen Newsletter for May 19, 2017

AAS Committee on the Status of Women
Issue of May 19, 2017
eds: Nicolle Zellner, Heather Flewelling, Christina Thomas, and Maria Patterson

This week's issues:

1. Women in Leadership: It’s Not Just About Confidence    
2. Astronomers Elected to National Academy of Sciences
3. Childcare Opportunity at MetSoc
4. Caltech Students Protest Return of Professor From Suspension
5. Five Ways to Move Beyond the March: A Guide for Scientists Seeking Strong, Inclusive Science
6. We Recorded VCs’ Conversations and Analyzed How Differently They Talk About Female Entrepreneurs
7. How to Submit to the AASWomen Newsletter
8. How to Subscribe or Unsubscribe to the AASWomen Newsletter
9. Access to Past Issues of the AASWomen Newsletter

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Women in Leadership: It’s Not Just About Confidence

In her 2014 eye-opening article for the Harvard Business Review, author Tara Sophia Mohr discussed Why Women Don’t Apply for Jobs Unless They’re 100% Qualified:

You’ve probably heard the following statistic: Men apply for a job when they meet only 60% of the qualifications, but women apply only if they meet 100% of them. The finding comes from a Hewlett Packard internal report, and has been quoted in Lean In, The Confidence Code, and dozens of articles. It’s usually invoked as evidence that women need more confidence. As one Forbes article put it, “Men are confident about their ability at 60%, but women don’t feel confident until they’ve checked off each item on the list.” The advice: women need to have more faith in themselves.

Fortunately, Mohr was skeptical of these findings and decided to survey over a thousand men and women, predominantly American professionals. She asked them, “If you decided not to apply for a job because you didn’t meet all the qualifications, why didn’t you apply?” She discovered that the barrier to applying was not lack of confidence, at least according to the self-reporting of the respondents. In fact, according to the table below, “I didn’t think I could do the job well” was the least common of all the responses for both men and women.

Although it is certainly true that many of us could use an extra dose of confidence, if we listened only to the advice from the Lean In/Confidence Code bull horn, we would be doing ourselves a great disservice. We would be internalizing and personalizing the problem, putting all the weight of this dilemma on our own shoulders (sound familiar?), and assuming that the external environment, the world out there, was a level playing field. The bottom line is that there is more to it than just confidence (internal), and this missing societal component (external) is fundamentally important.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Career Profile: Planetary Geologist: Dr. Justin Filiberto

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, planetary scientists, etc. The interviews share advice and lessons learned from individuals on those paths.

Below is our interview with Justin Filiberto, a planetary scientist/geologist working at Southern Illinois University and The Open University.

For access to all our Career Profile Project interviews, please visit http://aas.org/jobs/career-profiles. New Career Profiles are posted approximately every month.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Cross-Post: Astronomy in Color: Student Highlight: Sydney Duncan

Sydney Duncan, Physics & Dance, University of Utah
(Left photo by Sydney's father. Right photo by Luke Isley)
This is a cross post from the Astronomy in Color blog. The Astronomy in Color blog has an entire series of posts highlighting the amazing next generation of scientists in our field. This cross-post features Sydney Duncan. This interview was done by CSMA member Nicole Cabrera Salazar.


Sydney Duncan is a native of Dallas, where she trained in classical ballet at Tuzer Ballet and Texas Ballet Theatre School. At Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts, she studied saxophone, voice, and dance. Duncan then attended University of Utah, where she double majored in ballet and physics and performed with Utah Ballet. She has attended summer intensives at American Ballet Theatre, Ballet West, Atlanta Ballet, LINES Ballet, Ailey, Oklahoma City Ballet, Dallas Ballet Dance Theatre, and Hubbard Street. She completed Astrophysics REUs at University of Oklahoma and University of Chicago. At the University of Utah she conducted research on the chemical abundances of globular clusters with Dr. Inese Ivans. She is now dancing professionally in New York City.