AAS Committee on the Status of Women
Issue of January 21, 2011
eds. Joan Schmelz, Caroline Simpson & Michele Montgomery

This week's issues:

1. Unconscious Bias

2. Elementary Parenting

3. Milk at the Seattle American Astronomical Society Meeting

4. Positions at ALMA

5. How to Submit, Subscribe, or Unsubscribe to AASWOMEN

6. Access to Past Issues of AASWOMEN

1. Unconscious Bias
From: Joan Schmelz [jschmelz_at_memphis.edu]

On the last day of the Seattle AAS meeting, right before lunch, Dr. Abigail
Stewart of the University of Michigan gave an invited talk entitled, "Addressing
Unconscious Bias: Steps toward an Inclusive Scientific Culture."

CSWA nominated Dr. Stewart for a plenary talk because of her excellent
presentation on unconscious bias at the Women in Astronomy III meeting in 2009.
I remember describing that talk as, "well worth the price of admission"
(AASWOMEN, November 6, 2009).

Dr. Stewart did not disappoint. In a time slot that was less than ideal on a
subject that was not pure science, Dr. Stewart delivered another brilliant
lecture full of eye-opening results and time-tested advice on how to change the
status quo. The talk was very well attended and there were lots of questions.

The PowerPoint from the presentation will be up on the meeting portion of CSWA's
web site just as soon as possible. Check here for an update for the Seattle
meeting (coming soon):


In the meantime, if you need the presentation right away (if, for example, you
are currently on a search committee) just e-mail me and I'll send you the
PowerPoint from the Women in Astronomy III conference. It was similar.

Here's the abstract:  "In this talk I will outline the nature of unconscious
bias, as it operates to exclude or marginalize some participants in the
scientific community. I will show how bias results from non-conscious
expectations about certain groups of people, including scientists and
astronomers. I will outline scientific research in psychology, sociology and
economics that has identified the impact these expectations have on
interpersonal judgments that are at the heart of assessment of individuals'
qualifications. This research helps us understand not only how bias operates
within a single instance of evaluation, but how evaluation bias can accumulate
over a career if not checked, creating an appearance of confirmation of biased

Some research has focused on how best to interrupt and mitigate unconscious
bias, and many institutions--including the University of Michigan--have
identified strategic interventions at key points of institutional
decision-making (particularly hiring, annual review, and promotion) that can
make a difference. The NSF ADVANCE Institutional Transformation program
encouraged institutions to draw on the social science literature to create
experimental approaches to addressing unconscious bias. I will outline four
approaches to intervention that have arisen through the ADVANCE program: (1)
systematic education that increases awareness among decisionmakers of how
evaluation bias operates; (2) development of practices that mitigate the
operation of bias even when it is out of conscious awareness; (3) creation of
institutional policies that routinize and sanction these practices; and (4)
holding leaders accountable for these implementation of these new practices and

Although I will focus on ways to address unconscious bias within scientific
institutions (colleges and universities, laboratories and research centers,
etc.), I will close by considering how scientific organizations can address
unconscious bias and contribute to creating an inclusive scientific culture."

2. Elementary Parenting
From: Hannah_at_women_in_astronomy_blog

The 217th AAS Meeting is getting under way here in Seattle. Lots of cool science
going on here, and several excellent sessions sponsored by the CSWA, too.

My kids saw me off at the airport yesterday, and I don't know if I've gotten
them really used to my frequent travel schedule or if they're just naturally
callous, but there was hardly any fuss. The younger kid, in fact, whined quite a
bit about being dragged all the way to the airport to say goodbye to me instead
of, I don't know, watching TV or something.

Suffice it to say that balancing my career with having elementary school age
children is a completely different game from when they were babies. Ann has made
some terrific posts about her own experience, and I know that back then, I would
have found her advice invaluable. Still, those early years of parenting are but
memories that I can look back on with some nostalgia now. It was tough, but I
got through it, and now I can tell funny and/or horrifying stories about it. Not
unlike a sorority/fraternity hazing or boot camp, I suppose.

You don't hear much discussion about balancing work and family after the early
years. That's because it's much easier. I'm blessed with children free from
significant medical, emotional, or mental issues. I can count on getting a full
night's sleep on a regular basis. Since my kids are in public school, my child
care costs are a whole lot less. There are excellent in-school programs that I
can rely on to care for my kids after school, on snow days, and even some school
vacation days. Heck, I can even assign chores to my kids to make dinner time and
morning getting-ready times a lot easier on myself.

Still, I end up doing a lot of chauffeuring, taking my kids to some activity or
another. I wrote an early draft of this blog post at my kids' karate studio, for
instance. There are still times when I need to drop everything to take care of a
sick or hurt child, but it's not a constant drain on me the way sleep
deprivation is. And of course, whenever I travel, like right now, I depend on my
spouse to pick up a lot of slack in my absence.

I'm enjoying these elementary school years while they last. My kids are now real
people that I can have real conversations with. Still, it won't be long before
my kids will be teenagers, and then I may well have to kiss my reliable nights
of sleep goodbye. For now, I'll go enjoy the AAS Meeting, confident that my
family can get by without me, and maybe by the end of the week they'll actually
miss me.

3. Milk at the Seattle American Astronomical Society Meeting
From: AnnH_at_women_in_astronomy_blog

So I was able to bring my 9.5 month old daughter to Seattle to the American
Astronomical Society meeting last week. I think I can summarize the entire
experience by saying that it was really nice to not have to worry about how I
was going to incorporate caring for my daughter, and specifically maintaining
breastfeeding, into the conference. This was possible due to the on-site
childcare sponsored by the society and a "breastfeeding room" reserved by the
very capable AAS staff.

It wasn't without some slight hang-ups as I was a bit frazzled in my
preparations for this very busy meeting, especially considering that I was
staying with a relative of my husband's that week (the slightly longer commute
was more than compensated for by easy access to a washer and dryer as well as a
completely separate room for the baby). I walked into the conference hall on the
first morning to ask about the location of the on-site childcare (yes, I am very
sure someone must have told me ahead of time but I was more concerned about
being ready for the science sessions). It turns out that the on-site childcare
was at the Sheraton across the street. This is obviously very good for the vast
majority of conference attendees who are staying in the conference hotel but it
took me by surprise (hey, I printed 12 copies of the agenda for the high energy
astrophysics executive committee meeting, who had time to look this stuff up?).
I guess I was expecting a little cage full of babies among the book vendors or
something (the Sheraton was perhaps more logical?). We found it and got Anya
dropped off.

Once we had that worked out though it was really wonderful. I was able to stop
in to nurse Anya at midday, carry her around the poster hall (she loves lanyards
apparently), take her to a lunchtime session on how men can help women in
astronomy (until she woke up, I even breast-fed her in the back of the room!)
and then after putting her in the daycare for the afternoon breast-fed her once
more before returning her to my husband so I could attend my late night
executive committee dinner (the day finished at 11PM Seattle time).

The AAS was even good enough to arrange for a breastfeeding room. The AAS staff
were not entirely thrilled with it, nor was I (it was a converted coat room for
the coat check, kind of grungy) but it met the important basic requirements:
proximity to the meeting (it was immediately outside the poster hall, perfect!)
and privacy (hey, there are no windows in coat closets, perfect!). Once again,
if you are going to pump on the road, bring those Medela wipes in case you are
pumping milk around coat closet dust bunnies.

So, I think it went well. I'm grateful that our community is open-minded enough
to have on-site childcare and breastfeeding rooms.

4. Positions at ALMA

ALMA Test Scientist

Division: Joint Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) Observatory
Location of Position:  Chile
Job Status: Regular Full Time
Number of Positions Supervised: 0

The Joint ALMA Observatory (JAO) invites applications for a Test Scientist to
join the System Integration Group of the ALMA Department of Engineering.  The
System Integration Group coordinates assembly and integration tasks, and
performs system verification tests of the ALMA antennas.  The successful
candidate will be part of the team responsible for ensuring that appropriate
testing is accomplished in order to verify that system requirements are met.

Head of the ALMA Department of Engineering

Division: Joint Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) Observatory
Location of Position:  Chile
Job Status: Regular Full Time
Number of Positions Supervised: ~ 130

The Joint ALMA Observatory (JAO) is seeking a senior engineering manager with
extensive experience to lead its Department of Engineering, which is responsible
for the assembly and integration and the engineering operation of the
international ALMA radio astronomy observatory in Chile. This is an outstanding
opportunity to lead the engineering efforts associated with one of the most
challenging technology projects in the world. The Head of the ALMA Department of
Engineering (ADE) will be responsible for the management and leadership of the
JAOs largest department, home to approximately 130 staff - around half of the
entire staff of the JAO. The Head of ADE will report to the ALMA Director, and
will be a member of the JAO's core management team. The Head of ADE will be
responsible for the engineering and technical staff within the JAO and for the
work outcomes from those staff including Assembly, Integration and Verification
activities, Systems Integration efforts, and the ongo
ing engineering operations of the array. The Head of ADE will also be expected
to make a key contribution to the strategic planning, policy development,
implementation, as well as overall decision-making of the JAO.

ALMA Project Manager

Division: Joint Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) Observatory
Location of Position:  Chile
Job Status: Regular Full Time
Number of Positions Supervised: ~ 19

The Joint ALMA Observatory (JAO) is seeking a Project Manager with outstanding
management abilities for the construction of the international ALMA radio
astronomy observatory in Chile.  Under delegation by the Director, the Project
Manager is responsible for the overall direction and coordination of the ALMA
construction and integration conducted by the JAO and the three (European, East
Asian and North American) Executives, and for maintaining the integrity of the
construction schedule, work breakdown structure, cost development and assignment
of deliverables. The Project Manager reports to the ALMA Director, and is a
member of the JAO's core management team. The Project Manager leads the JAO
construction team and works in close collaboration with the Executives' project
managers. The Project Manager provides written and oral reports to the Board on
progress and problems of the construction project and summarizes the state of
the project for the ALMA Management Advisory Committee.

For further information please consult (almaobservatory.org), as well as the
NRAO and/or ESO Home Page (www.nrao.edu) or (www.eso.org).

NRAO and ESO are Equal Opportunity Employers. M/F/D/V

URL1: https://careers.nrao.edu/ (NRAO Careers Page)
URL2: https://jobs.eso.org/
(ESO Careers Page)
URL3: http://hr.almaobservatory.org/ (ALMA Observatory Careers

5. How to Submit, Subscribe, or Unsubscribe to AASWOMEN

[Please remember to replace "_at_" in the below e-mail addresses.]

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6. Access to Past Issues of AASWOMEN

Past issues of AASWOMEN are available at


Each annual summary includes an index of topics covered.


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End of AASWList Digest, Vol 47, Issue 3