Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Meet Your CSWA Intern, Rachel Wexler

Flight suit photo at NASA Langley in June!
Rachel Wexler is a fourth-year undergraduate student in the School of Public Policy at Georgia Tech. She will graduate in spring 2020 and continue studying at Georgia Tech to earn a master’s degree in public policy. Throughout her time at Tech, she has worked as a research assistant on a project that examines the transmission of knowledge about women in science and technology. Rachel is originally from Sanibel Island, Florida. She is currently leading the CSWA's write up of recommendations to the AAS based on our survey findings.

What is a public policy student at Georgia Tech?

Public policy students at Georgia Tech study a combination of politics, economics, sociology, statistics, and research methods to prepare for a future as problem-solvers in the public and private sectors.

Cross-post: Tips to Overcome Imposter Syndrome

Image Credit: errantscience.com

By UW Health

At work, are you afraid colleagues might find out you’re not as capable as they may think? Do you feel like any praise you receive for success is because people are just trying to be nice, not because you actually deserve it? Rather than celebrating increased responsibilities or promotions, do they instead cause anxiety because – in your mind – now you’ll have to work even harder to keep them from learning the truth about your abilities?

Here’s a secret – a lot of people feel that way. In fact, roughly 70 percent of us do at some point in our lives. While change can always cause feelings of doubt, for some people the feelings of inadequacy run so deep that no amount of success or achievement can sway them. And there is a term for it – imposter syndrome.

Health psychologist Shilagh Mirgain explains that imposter syndrome can be debilitating if left untreated. “In addition to causing stress, anxiety and depression, it can impact lives in other ways. Individuals with imposter syndrome may avoid pursuing new job opportunities out of fear. Feelings of shame may make it difficult to speak up for themselves or advocate for what they believe is right.”



Friday, November 22, 2019

AASWomen Newsletter for November 22, 2019

AAS Committee on the Status of Women AAS Committee on the Status of Women
Issue of November 22, 2019
eds: JoEllen McBride, Nicolle Zellner, Heather Flewelling, Maria Patterson, and Alessandra Aloisi

Henrietta Leavitt, from item 3
This week's issues:

1. Kick-off Post for Two-Body Problem Series

2. New Video Interview Series from the Europlanet Early Career and Diversity Committees

3. How Henrietta Swan Leavitt Helped Build a Yardstick to Measure the Universe

4. The Scientist Who First Showed Us The Double Helix: A Personal Look At Rosalind Franklin

5. Supporting Parents and Caregivers in Science, Engineering, and Medicine

6. The Long Road to Getting, and Keeping, More Women in Science

7. Navigating the 'Old Boys' Club' of Science, With a Friend

8. Why I'm not applying for promotion

9. Want more women and minorities in STEM? Address social oppression in the classroom, says new research

10. 5 Ways to Welcome Women to Computer Science

11. The mental health of PhD researchers demands urgent attention

12. Are you guilty of equity offset?

13. Job Opportunities

14. How to Submit to the AASWomen Newsletter

15. How to Subscribe or Unsubscribe to the AASWomen Newsletter

16. Access to Past Issues of the AASWomen Newsletter

Thursday, November 21, 2019

Kick-off Post for Two-Body Problem Series

Image Credit: SXS, the Simulating eXtreme Spacetimes (SXS) project

The two-body problem refers to the complications of dual-working partners finding jobs in the same location. This is a special issue for academics for several reasons, principally 1) academics are more likely to be partnered with other academics and 2) jobs in academia are scarce and finding two in the same location is difficult. For women, especially those partnered with men, this becomes even more precarious as academics who identify as women are far more likely to have a partner in the same field or within academia. They are also more likely to “follow” their partner, resulting in compromising their career path for the ability to live with their partner and family.

The CSWA has recognized the impact of the two-body problem on careers for women in astronomy, and frequently posted to this blog. However, our last posts about this issue were in 2014, and we believe it is time to kick-off a new series, bringing in personal stories, insights from the hiring standpoint, and looking for solutions. If you would like to contribute a post, email the blog editors at wia-blog AT lists.aas.org.

In this kick-off post, we are sharing an interview with Timothy D. Swindle, Department Head and Director of the Department of Planetary Sciences and Lunar and Planetary Laboratory at the University of Arizona, who shared his insight into how departments and schools can address the problem. This interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.

Why is your department/school taking steps to address the two-body problem?

Almost half the people that we want to hire, male or female, have a partner who is also in academia. If we want to successfully recruit them, we probably have to help them solve that problem. If their partner is an M.D. or a lawyer or a schoolteacher, it's not an issue that we can address as a university, although we will try to provide contacts in the community.

What negotiated resources, tangible benefits, or other offers have departments implemented that have been effective? What has not worked?

Offering a tenure-track faculty line, complete with a start-up package that is large enough to allow for success, is usually effective. If the partner is not already in a tenure-track position, a staff position with a few years of security may be effective.

It is often not effective when the offer for the partner is (or appears to be) a step down in rank, e.g., from a tenured position to tenure-track or lecturer, or from tenure-track to staff.

Is it effective when departments make the offer or does the school/institution need to be on board?

The institution needs to be on board to allow the departments to make effective offers. In my institution, we have usually been successful when the partner was also in the sciences. The science departments typically have 20 or more faculty, and the department heads all recognize that there is a good chance that we will be the one shopping a partner in the future. Additionally, the dean has not held partner hires against us for future hiring plans, even if the partner doesn't align perfectly with our strategic needs. On the other hand, we have lost hires when dealing with departments in other colleges, especially smaller departments. Even if they liked the partner for a position, their dean would give no assurances for planned future hires.

Every situation is different. It works best when both partners are very strong so that the department hiring the second partner can make a strong case. But we have also had some cases where one department (or college) would cover the startup or the first few years of the partner's salary, perhaps in return for some indirect cost return. The negotiations can become involved. But the bottom line is that it's essential that the university administration, at the level of dean and above, be supportive.

What improvements have you seen in the hiring process for faculty with partners?

There is a growing recognition that a substantial fraction of the people a university wants to hire as faculty will have a two-body problem. Our department has been in an era of hiring, partly due to growth, partly to retirements, and our success rate for scientists with academia-minded partners, though not quite as good as for those who are single or have spouses in other fields, is not far off. Being better at solving the two-body problem does give an institution an advantage, given the number of talented couples on the job market.

Another improvement in the last decade or so has been the increased effectiveness of parental leave policies, allowing parents to take more time with newborns without it counting against the tenure clock. I have seen this both at our institution and at others. I know that is widespread, but a couple thinking of having children should check on that.

Anything else you'd like to add?

One of the very difficult things about this is that, unless it is a targeted hire of a couple in the same area, there is usually one partner who is the second body. Will that person be accepted as a scientist in their own right? My suspicion is that it is easier in a larger department and in a department with a more substantial history of dealing with the issue. I know of cases where that has been a problem, and that can be hard on an individual and on a relationship. For a couple where one gets a job offer, it's worth asking if there are other couples or spousal hires in the department, and if so, finding out their perception.

Tim Swindle is a Professor of Planetary Sciences and Geosciences at the University of Arizona, where he is the Head of the Department of Planetary Sciences and Director of the Lunar and Planetary Laboratory. He has negotiated the hiring of 21 faculty members in the last decade.

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Cross-post: Increasing gender diversity in the STEM research workforce

Women experience substantial, gender-specific barriers that can impede their advancement in research careers...We outline here specific, potentially high-impact policy changes that build upon existing mechanisms for research funding and governance and that can be rapidly implemented to counteract barriers facing women in science. These approaches must be coupled to vigorous and continuous outcomes-based monitoring, so that the most successful strategies can be disseminated and widely implemented. Though our professional focus is primarily academic biomedical research in U.S. institutions, we suggest that some of the approaches that we discuss may be broadly useful across STEM disciplines and outside of academia as well.

Read more at:


The CSWA is currently working on their own set of recommendations to the AAS for a more inclusive astronomy in the form of a Bulletin of the American Astronomical Society (BAAS) article. Those recommendations will be presented at AAS by Rachel Wexler, a senior at Georgia Tech who is working with the CSWA on this project.

Thursday, November 7, 2019

Physics and Astronomy STEM Equality Achievement (SEA) Change Department Awards

By Arlene Modeste Knowles and Beth A. Cunningham

Over the last two years, the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) has developed the STEM Equity Achievement (SEA) Change Project which supports systemic, structural institutional transformation around diversity and inclusion in colleges and universities. It does so by encouraging, assisting and recognizing academic institutions that commit to and engage in the difficult work of removing structural barriers to success for women, blacks, Hispanics, Native Americans, people with disabilities, and others who are marginalized in STEM fields. In the SEA Change process, inclusion, and its valuable impacts, are measured by the experiences of students and faculty, as well as by data. The SEA Change Principles can be found here: https://seachange.aaas.org/principles/. Three universities were the first recipients of SEA Change bronze awards in February 2019: Boston University, University of California, Davis, and University of Massachusetts Lowell.

Friday, November 1, 2019