Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Career Profile: Executive Director

The AAS Committee on the Status of Women in Astronomy is compiling interviews highlighting the diversity of career trajectories available to astronomers. The interviews share advice and lessons learned from individuals on those paths. 

Dr. Stella Kafka is the Executive Director of the American Association of Variable Star Observers (AAVSO). She enjoys enabling scientific research and in addition to her academic positions has worked as the CTIO REU/PIA site director and in the American Institute of Physics publishing group.

What field do you currently work in?

Observational astronomy – variable stars (especially semi-detached binaries – CVs)

What is the job title for your current position?

Executive Director – Chief Executive Officer and Chief Science Officer at the AAVSO

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Announcement of DPS Workshop on Proposal Writing: Friday October 26th

The success of scientists depends upon their ability to obtain funding. Using Research Opportunities in Space and Earth Sciences (ROSES) from NASA as a primary example, this workshop will focus on teaching the audience key points to writing a successful proposal.

Topics to be covered include:
8:00-8:15- General introduction and welcome
8:15-9:15- Proposal lifecycle, guidance on writing for specific audiences, compliance checklist
9:15-9:30- Break
9:30-10:30- Evaluation criteria, the review process, programmatic balance, debriefs and appeals, and making changes to address review concerns
10:30-11:00- General wrap up and group Q&A
11:00-11:30- One-on-One Q&A as needed.

Proposal Writing Workshops help early career scientists, as well as those looking to improve their previous proposal performance. As a result of this session, participants will be able to understand the proposal writing, reviewing, and selection process for federally funded proposals, as well as help those who have previously submitted proposals improve their performance. The workshop will be done in a format that allows for a great deal of audience participation.

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Balancing Your Act

By Michelle Zellner

Michelle has been a trainer, coach, and facilitator for over 20 years.  Her business, Better Beings, encompasses individual clients, weekend workshops, and a week-long wellness retreat.  She is also an event key-note speaker and is highly sought  to deliver corporate trainings.  Thus far, she has conducted over 2000 trainings, both live and via webinar.  Along with her knowledge, the connection she makes with the audience often results in requests for repeat visits.

Michelle’s background has enabled her to deliver on a wide variety of training topics, including: exercise, nutrition, weight loss, stress management, sleep, preventing and managing chronic disease, work-life balance—and many more. 

Learn more about Michelle at:
www.betterbeings.net and on fb and Instagram @betterbeingsus

This blog entry is an modified excerpt from her upcoming book.

Stress is part of everyone’s life, but if you don’t learn to find some balance, serious health consequences could be waiting!  We often waste resources (time, money and energy) or are simply not distributing them effectively, and this leads to feeling overwhelmed, undervalued and unappreciated. Burnout---physical, mental, emotional or professional---could be near, but is totally preventable. Follow along and fill out the evaluation tools to help you identify how balanced YOUR act is.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Katherine Johnson Celebrates Her 100th Birthday

President Obama presents the Presidential Medal of Freedom to
Katherine Johnson on November 24, 2015. (Reuters)
Katherine Johnson, the NASA mathematician who played a crucial role in calculating trajectories for America's early space missions, turned 100 on Sunday August 26th. Johnson and other groundbreaking women mathematicians of color at NASA were highlighted in the book Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly and in the movie with the same name.

Numerous articles were written about Johnson this weekend celebrating her many achievements.

Among her many honors, this weekend West Virginia State University honored her with a statue and scholarship dedication. Johnson graduated from the university in 1937. Read more at: https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/nasa-katherine-johnson-hidden-figures-100th-birthday_us_5b840c8ee4b0cd327dfe9857

See a message from NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine about Johnson's birthday:

For additional coverage on Johnson, see:





Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Career Profile: Associate Teaching Professor

The AAS Committee on the Status of Women in Astronomy is compiling interviews highlighting the diversity of career trajectories available to astronomers. The interviews share advice and lessons learned from individuals on those paths.

Dr. Julia Kregenow is an Associate Teaching Professor at Penn State University. She worked in science policy before moving to teaching. She has also published three children's books about astronomy.

What field do you currently work in?

Astronomy and Astrophysics

What is the job title for your current position?

Associate teaching professor

Friday, August 17, 2018

AASWomen Newsletter for August 17, 2018

AAS Committee on the Status of Women
August 17, 2018
eds: Nicolle Zellner, Heather Flewelling, Christina Thomas, Maria Patterson, and JoEllen McBride

This week's issues:

1. Cross-post: The book that fights sexism with science            
2. Useful and Interesting Webpages 
3. Lawrence Fellowship: Applications Now Being Accepted
4. FUTURE of Physics 2018: Nominations Now Being Accepted
5. Mary G. Ross: Google Doodle honors first Native American woman engineer who helped put man on the moon 
6. The comet calculator: Nicole-Reine Lepaute 
7. Job Opportunities   
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

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Cross-post: The book that fights sexism with science

Angela Saini
Photo: Gareth Phillips for the Observer, from the Guardian
A recent article on the Guardian by Donna Ferguson discusses the impact a recent book, Inferior: The True Power of Women and the Science that Shows It by Angela Saini, has had on the myth that there are biological differences our brains by gender that cause men or women to be better at certain things. Female scientists rallied behind this message and started a crowdfunding campaign to send a copy of the book to every mixed gender secondary school in England.



Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Cross-post: How This Female Fortune 100 Executive Is Helping Women Advance In STEM Fields

In this week's cross-post article, journalist and Forbes contributor Elana Lyn Gross profiles Nicola Palmer, the chief network engineering officer at Verizon. Palmer has been committed to helping girls and women gain STEM skills that can make an impact in any field. In the interview, Palmer speaks about "her 28-year career at Verizon, inclusive leadership and actionable ways we can support women in STEM fields".

Read more at 


Thursday, August 2, 2018

Hosting a Wikipedia Edit-a-thon

There are many fantastic ways to raise the profile of women in STEM. One that has been in the news recently is hosting a Wikipedia edit-a-thon. The AASWomen editors were inspired last week after seeing an article about a physicist who wrote 270 Wikipedia profiles for female scientists.

Read more here:


There are a number of resources online for how to host your own edit-a-thon. One example from 500 Women Scientists can be found here:


A great example of a successful event at UNC can be seen here:


Let us know if you decide to host an edit-a-thon and we'll include it in a AASWomen's newsletter!

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Cross-post: We need to start being honest with girls about science

As an avid science communicator and astronomy subject matter expert for hire, Dr. JoEllen McBride, CSWA member, strives to make science inclusive for anyone who wants to participate. In this blog post, Dr. McBride discusses how we have to be honest with young women; not just about the set backs they may face when doing science but the systemic hurdles they'll face within their scientific institutions.



Thursday, July 19, 2018

How to Avoid Becoming a Sexual Predator

By Greg Mace

Greg Mace works as a research associate at the University of Texas at Austin and McDonald Observatory. This post is written from his own perspective as an advisor, white male, father and husband.

Something that has been bothering me about the anti-harassment discussion in our community is the denial from allies that they are capable of being a harasser and predator. In the worst cases there appear to be wolves in sheep’s clothing within our equity and inclusion groups. In lesser cases, we need to acknowledge that claiming to be an ally while ogling or fanaticizing of our co-workers is a form of grooming that is best stopped before it starts.

I wish to be considered an ally, and I also acknowledge that I am capable of harassment and predation.

When I hear others talk about their disdain for harassment and then proclaim their innocence, I immediately question their definition of harassment. If harassment is defined as the explicit intimidation of someone, then I agree that many people are capable of suppressing their bad behaviors when asked. However, what happens when there is a power separation between senior and junior researchers? Does the junior researcher need to explicitly say, ‘I don’t want you to look at me like that,’ or can we assume that they don’t want it? A better definition of harassment is one that focuses on the actions of the harasser. I would say that harassment can be defined as - behaving in ways that you know, based on past experience and the rules of consent, to be inappropriate.

Friday, July 13, 2018

AASWomen Newsletter for July 13, 2018

AAS Committee on the Status of Women
Issue of July 13, 2018
eds: Nicolle Zellner, Heather Flewelling, Cristina Thomas, Maria Patterson, and JoEllen McBride

This week's issues:

1. Applications Open for AAS-EPD Mini-Grants
2. Meeting: Multi-Dimensional Characterization of Distant Worlds
3. Why women need mid-career mentors 
4. Institute Archives spotlights pioneering women at MIT
5. Why Science Breeds a Culture of Sexism 
6. Podcasting Is About to Become a Lot Less White and Male
7. 5 Inspiring Young Women Who are Leading the Way in STEM 
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

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Cross-post: Summary of the 2018 LPSC WiPS Event "Overcoming Impostor Syndrome"

The Women in Planetary Science blog recently posted a summary of the discussion from their 2018 Lunar and Planetary Science Conference event. The post includes stories and a summary of strategies for combating impostor syndrome. 

Read more at:

The Women in Planetary Science blog has a number of announcements and stories relevant to the Women in Astronomy community. If you're not already a reader of the blog, we encourage you to take a look!

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Cross-Post: 35 Years Since Sally Rode ...

The US Postal Service recently
issued a Sally Ride "forever stamp".
Image from collectspace.com.
June 18, 2018 marked 35 years since Sally Ride's historic flight into space. 

I was a young girl at the time of Sally's flight, and I don't recall much of the hype surrounding the launch. However, looking back and seeing how she and her five female astronaut classmates (and 29 male classmates) changed - in fact, equalized and enabled - spaceflight probably had some effect on my career trajectory. I do know that by working on the ultraviolet telescope mission, STS-67, and meeting Tammy Jernigan (astronomer) and Wendy Lawrence (pilot), two astronauts who flew on that mission, my plans to do research in space science were solidified. 

and/or tell us how these female astronauts influenced your career in the comments below.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Cross-post: Where Women Must Defy the Odds to Become Scientists

In a new documentary, National Geographic Explorers Clare Fieseler and Gabby Salazar focus on stories of women with careers in science who face intense cultural and social barriers. The film, Outnumbered in Africa, focuses on Moreangels Mbizah, a lion conservationalist in Zimbabwe.

Read the interview with Fieseler and Salazar at:


Thursday, June 14, 2018

NASEM Report on Sexual Harassment of Women in Academic Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine

Earlier this week, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine released the report "Sexual Harassment of Women: Climate, Culture, and Consequences in Academic Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine". The report finds that sexual harassment is prevalent in the academic sciences and includes recommendations for combating the problem at academic institutions, federal agencies, and scientific societies.

Read the report here:

Numerous articles have been written about the report and the corresponding news conference. They include articles from the Washington Post, Science, Nature, and Inside Higher Ed.

Some articles have highlighted the fact that the National Academies could do more to combat harassment by expelling members who have harassed others. Read more from the Chronicle of Higher Education and Ars Technica.

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Cross-post: What does it take to make an institution more diverse?

Credit: Hinterhaus Productions/Getty
This Nature career feature post by Virginia Gewin shares ideas for improving representation from six researchers working on diversity efforts.

Read the interviews at:


Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Diversity & Inclusion events at the AAS Meeting in Denver

Please join the CSWA at the 232nd AAS meeting in Denver, CO, June 3-7, starting this coming weekend! Here are a few sessions with CSWA support and/or participation, and diversity/inclusion meeting events of general interest.

1. "Student Reception: Orientation & Grad School Fair and Student Pavilion", Sunday June 3, 5:30 - 7 PM, Governor's Square 15. Please encourage your students (undergraduate and graduate), and junior professionals to attend and network with their peers and mentors. Feel free to join us and the AAS in advertising this on Facebook, Twitter and via direct emails to undergraduates and Junior Members, using the hashtag #AAS232. CSWA member Aparna Venkatesan will be at the CSMA table at this event so please stop by for any information.

2. Special Session on AAS Taskforce on Diversity and Inclusion in Astronomy Graduate Education, Monday June 4,  10:40-12:10, Governor's Square 16. The AAS Board of Trustees has undertaken a 2-stage effort to update the 1996 report on graduate education. The recommendations will include the collection of vital data, a menu of evidence-based approaches related to recruitment and enrollment of talented and diverse graduate students, and practices leading to broadly successful graduation rates. The task force is hosting a special session to provide an opportunity for discussion and input by the larger community. Click here for an overview on the AAS Grad Education Diversity Taskforce: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1lyuO39gGVc8y1wlUQMtUy7iSuEM6CBbSMhZBjt3GYxI/edit

3. Special Session on Indigenous Knowledge in 21st Century Science,  Tuesday June 5, 10:40-12:10, Governor's Square 16. This session is sponsored by the CSMA and CSWA, with confirmed speakers Dr. Nancy Maryboy (Indigenous Education Institute, and University of Washington), Dr. David Begay (Indigenous Education Institute, and University of New Mexico), Dr. Isabel Hawkins (San Francisco Exploratorium), and Ka'iu Kimura ('Imiloa Astronomy Center of Hawai'i). The session will begin with taking a moment to honor Dr. Paul Coleman (University of HawaiĘ»i Institute for Astronomy). Dr. Coleman was the first Native Hawaiian with a doctorate in astrophysics. He passed away at his home on January 16th, 2018.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

CSWA @ the AAS Meeting in Denver

The CSWA has organized two events at the upcoming AAS Meeting in Denver. 

The first, "CSWA Priorities in the 2020's" invites attendees to determine the committee's priorities into the next decade. This meeting will build on the input collected from those in attendance at the special session and the Meet and Greet at AAS 231 in January 2018. A CSWA survey will soon be active, on which to rate the issues that the community finds important to address and to suggest additional issues, results of which will be open for discussion. The meeting is on Monday, June 4, from 6:00 PM - 7:30 PM in Plaza Court 3. Please participate! It's an opportunity open to everyone who is interested.

The second meeting, "Drafting 'State of the Profession' White Papers", is an outgrowth of Monday's meeting. Here, participants will organize themselves into writing committees and teams, making an outline, and making a plan for writing for white paper ideas that came out of the earlier meeting. This meeting will be held on Tuesday, June 5, from 6:00pm–7:30pm, in Plaza Court 3Please participate! It's an opportunity open to everyone who is interested.

The CSWA also supports the session, "Decadal Survey Preparations: State of the Profession", in which leaders of several advisory efforts will present their activities to the larger community, build collaborations on topics of interest, and solicit additional signatories to their efforts. Among these projects are white papers that resulted from the Women in Astronomy IV meeting in June 2018. This meeting will be on Wednesday, June 6, from 10:40 AM - 12:10 PM, in Governor's Square 10.

Please feel free to submit any comments in the comment boxes below; we look forward to seeing you in Denver!

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Cross-post: New Director of Air and Space Museum is the First Woman to Hold the Job

Former NASA Chief Scientist Ellen Stofan recently became the first woman to hold the position of director of the National Air and Space Museum. She recently spoke with the hosts of NPR's All Things Considered about her new position and passion for space science.

Read more and hear the interview at:


Friday, May 11, 2018

AASWomen Newsletter for May 11, 2018

AAS Committee on the Status of Women
Issue of May 11, 2018
eds: Nicolle Zellner, Heather Flewelling, Cristina Thomas, and Maria Patterson

This week's issues:

1. The Awakening                 
2. The #MeToo campaign is gaining ground in China
3. Former NASA Chief Scientist Heads National Air and Space Museum
4. Harassment should count as scientific misconduct 
5. The first person on Mars 'should be a woman' 
6. Men Get Credit for Voicing Ideas, but Not Problems. Women Don’t Get Credit for Either
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 9, 2018

Cross-post: Meet the Women of Breakthrough: Portraits of Women in Science

Image Credit: Science Friday
Breakthrough: Portraits of Women in Science is a new documentary series by Science Friday and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI). Producer Emily Driscoll recently described the series on the Voices section of Scientific American: "The series shows how women at the forefront of their careers navigate personal and profession challenges in their path to discovery. Showing how these researchers overcome challenges like disabilities, dangerous field conditions, and going against cultural expectations, will hopefully inspire future generations of women in STEM.

The overall challenges faced by women in STEM as a group have been well documented. Women make up half the workforce, but less than a third of STEM jobs, and are more likely than men to leave those positions. At the same time, women and scientists are underrepresented on film, and a recent survey found that most Americans aren’t able to name a living scientist. It was clear to all involved that a creative collaboration to share stories of women in science would be an ideal project and Breakthrough: Portraits of Women in Science was born."

Read more and see the videos at:


Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Volunteer Reviewers Needed for NASA Programs

By Max Bernstein

Dr. Bernstein is the Science Mission Directorate (SMD) Lead for Research at NASA Headquarters. This post also appears on the Women in Planetary Science blog

As the lead for research at NASA’s Science Mission Directorate (SMD), I am often told by the NASA HQ folks who run the research programs that it's a lot of work to find enough qualified proposal reviewers who are not conflicted. Similarly, it's not uncommon for proposers who are unhappy with their evaluations to assert that the people who reviewed their proposal must have been unqualified. To solve both of these problems and, just as importantly, to increase the diversity of the pool of reviewers, I am writing this appeal to potential reviewers:

Please sign up using our web-based volunteer reviewer forms. Each form asks for: 1. contact information, 2. whether you are willing to be a panelist, mail-in reviewer, or executive secretary (good for graduate students and post docs who have never served as a reviewer before) and 3. identify specific technical areas of expertise.

There are many different technical areas depending on the program, from Solar Interior through Outer Heliosphere and the Interstellar Boundary in Heliophysics, from formation of the Solar System to technology development in planetary science, as well as Astrophysics data analysis and Earth Surface and Interior and Space Geodesy Programs. Links to all of the forms may be found at https://science.nasa.gov/researchers/volunteer-review-panels.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Cross-post: When Will the Gender Gap in Science Disappear?

From Holman et al. (2018), this figure shows the
percentage of women authors per country and in
four illustrative disciplines.
A recent paper published in PLOS Biology (Holman, Stuart-Fox & Hauser) investigated the gender gap in the Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics, and Medicine (STEMM) workforce by determining the numbers of men and women authors listed on > 10 million academic papers published since 2002. They find that many research fields (including computer science and physics) will likely not reach gender parity this century. They also find that women were less likely to be approached to write invited papers by journal editors.

Read the results at:


Read an article on this study by Ed Yong at the Atlantic:


Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Stemming the Leak

By Fran Bagenal (University of Colorado, Boulder)

How come I hadn’t noticed these facts before? I thought I was pretty much aware of the demographics of women in physics, but the plot below distributed by the American Institute of Physics last spring had me flabbergasted. What has been going on for the past 15 years that has caused the percentage of US bachelors in physics going to women to drop from nearly 24% down below 20%?

The good news is that absolute number of women getting physics degrees (both bachelors and PhDs) are at record values. And the total number of physics degrees, after oscillating around 4000 for the past 50 years, has shot up to 8000/year. Indeed, talking to physics departments around the country I hear reports of bulging enrollments and needs for moving to larger classrooms.

So why is this expansion preferentially male rather than female? Why are men flocking to physics at a proportionally greater rate than women? I fi
nd it very hard to believe that the market for women physicists is saturated and that out of the whole US population only 1550 young women want to study physics.

Friday, April 13, 2018

AASWomen Newsletter for April 13, 2018

AAS Committee on the Status of Women
Issue of April 13, 2018
eds: Nicolle Zellner, Heather Flewelling, Cristina Thomas, and Maria Patterson

This week's issues:

1. Equal Pay Day 2018               
2. JAXA International Top Young Fellowship (ITYF) 2018 Spring 
3. The Habits of Light: A Celebration of Pioneering Astronomer Henrietta Leavitt… 
4. @nytgender instagram account
5. Science’s Invisible Women 
6. For SHE’s a Jolly Good Fellow?
7. Not smart enough? Men overestimate intelligence in science class  
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

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Equal Pay Day 2018

By Angela Speck 

April 10th 2018 is “Equal Pay Day”. It is the day in 2018 that women have to work until to earn the same as men did in 2017. In fact, this isn’t even a true statement. For women of color Equal Pay day is later in the year: https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/equal-pay-day-is-not-equal-at-all-for-women-of-color_us_58e3ec04e4b09deecf0e1af4. In 2016, white women earned 77 cents on the dollar compared to what men earned; African American women earned 64 cents on the dollar and Hispanic women only earned 56 cents on the dollar. Within academia in the US, women earn 80 cents on the dollar:https://www.aauw.org/research/the-simple-truth-about-the-gender-pay-gap/.

As a white woman, and a woman with a tenured position, I acknowledge my privilege amongst women. I am sharing my story about pay and gender inequity knowing that it could be worse.

Last year, on Equal Pay Day 2017, I sent the (male) chair of my department an email regarding my pay compared to that of a colleague. It’s always difficult to compare faculty salaries. Our paths to tenure and promotion are all different. Our research topics are always at least somewhat different, so making a direct comparison is tricky. But I happen to have a story in which we come as close as ever to direct comparison.

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Where Are We on Harassment?

By Aparna Venkatesan

The year 2015 was a watershed moment for mainstream awareness of harassment in astronomy and physics, with individual cases involving decades-long harassment and long-term fallout for junior astronomers making national news. This was a galvanizing call to action for those working in astronomy and astrophysics, ahead of the recent #MeToo and other powerful movements. 2015 was also the year when the first Inclusive Astronomy meeting was held at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, TN, resulting in concrete recommendations endorsed by the AAS Council for creating an inclusive workplace and professional community (link for the  Nashville Recommendations for Inclusive Astronomy at AAS Groups wiki: https://tiki.aas.org/tiki-index.php?page=Inclusive_Astronomy_The_Nashville_Recommendations)

Clancy et al. (2017) demonstrated that a significant difference exists
in the percent of individuals who have felt unsafe in their current
position due to gender and race.  
Although harassment can occur in a variety of ways and environments, some groups are especially vulnerable and targeted by harassers, as reported by Clancy, Lee, Rodgers & Richey (2017; “Double jeopardy in astronomy and planetary science: Women of color face greater risks of gendered and racial harassment”, J. Geophys. Res. Planets, 122, 1610–1623; PDF  available at: https://agupubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/pdf/10.1002/2017JE005256). This team of authors includes social scientists, astronomers, and planetary scientists. Their results are based on an online survey of workplace experiences conducted between 2011 and 2015 of 474 astronomers and planetary scientists, with the survey created by former CSWA Chair Christina Richey and Erica Rodgers. (For further discussion on the survey, an interview with the paper authors can be found here: https://eos.org/editors-vox/harassment-in-astronomy-and-planetary-science.) Some key points from this AAS-supported work include (with the survey and methodology caveats noted by the authors): women experience more physical and verbal harassment than men, and people of color (POC) experience more physical and verbal harassment than white respondents. Women of color are especially at risk for all types of harassment (including assault) and hostile workplace experiences compared with white women and men of color. The authors drew attention to decades of research on women of color being at greater risk of both gendered and racialized harassment (Moraga and Anzaldua, 1981; Carter 1988; Prescod-Weinstein, 2014, 2015, and other references in article), as seen in the accompanying figure (WM = white men, WW = white women, MOC = men of color, WOC = women of color; numbers at the bottom figure are the raw count for each category). Those with multiple subordinate-group identities might experience different kinds and levels of oppressions relative to those with a single subordinate-group identity.