AAS Committee on the Status of Women
Issue of August 26, 2011
eds. Joan Schmelz, Caroline Simpson & Michele Montgomery

This week's issues:

1.  How Things Have Changed (for the Better!)

2.  Re-Entering a Science Career After a Break

3.  How to Help More Women Succeed in Physics/Astronomy

4.  Why are there so Few Female Engineers?

5.  4th Essential Cosmology for the Next Generation

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

1.  How Things Have Changed (for the Better!)
From:  Joan Schmelz [jschmelz_at_memphis.edu]

In the 19 Aug 2011 issue of the AASWOMEN newsletter, I wrote an item  
entitled, "Why the AAS Needs the CSWA." It was based on an article of  
the same title which was written by Lee Anne Willson and published in  
the Oct 1987 issue of the STATUS magazine. I wrote about how things  
have improved for women in astronomy since the original article came  

Katy Garmany, current editor of STATUS, posted the following comment  
on CSWA's Facebook page, and I just received her permission to share  
it with AASWOMEN readers.

Katy wrote: "As someone with an even longer history, I can certainly  
see changes. When I was a grad student in the '60's, the women (all 3  
of us) were expected to set up tea and cookies for colloquia every  
week, while the men (all 20 or so) took turns showing the slides. This  
was just one of the silly things that had to change, but it  
represented the times."

If you have a story like Katy's that illustrates just how much things  
have changed (for the better!) for women in astronomy, please send it  
to me at the [email] address above.

2.  Re-Entering a Science Career After a Break
From:  Nancy Morrison [NMorris_at_UTNet.UToledo.Edu]

Seen in Nature, August 18, 2011: "Women in science: In pursuit of  
female chemists," by Carol V. Robinson.   Robinson took eight years  
off, in order to start a three-child family, just after earning her  
Ph.D. To me, the most interesting part of this article is her  
description of restarting her career, charting her own course, and  
eventually becoming a research professor at Oxford after this break.

The article has perceptive things to say about mentoring, role  
modeling, and climate as well. "Chemistry needs new female role models  
and a less macho culture to appeal more to the next generation of  
young women." Do you think scientific culture is too "macho"?



3.  How to Help More Women Succeed in Physics/Astronomy
From:  Douglas Duncan [dduncan_at_colorado.edu]

[Here is a response to last week's item "How to Encourage More Girls  
to Enter Science? -- eds.]

Elaine Seymour and Nancy Hewitt conducted over 600 hours of in-depth  
interviews with students who "switched" out of science majors and  
others who stayed. The results are published in the book, Talking  
About Leaving. They discovered and discussed many factors, but two  
of the most important are mentoring and "climate."  A majority of  
students have moments of doubt ("Am I good enough to do this?")  
Mentoring makes a big difference at that point.  Climate refers to how  
you feel about yourself. If the Department climate is "We're tough;  
we always flunk out one third," that is very different from "Our goal  
is for everyone to succeed in physics." We now know that people learn  
in a variety of ways, and the person who can answer fastest in class  
is not always the one who understands the most physics.  Sheila Tobias  
(They're Not Dumb, They're Different) argues that we eject too many  
students from our discipline.

One of the most persistent misconceptions Seymour and Hewett demolish  
is the idea that, "the best students succeed and the others get washed  
out." False. The students switching typically had good SATs and  
GPAs. What was less was their satisfaction. So what was found to  
affect satisfaction?
- Poor teaching.
- Chance to work on something interesting.
- Being able to see that there career would be "worthwhile."
- Mentoring, or lack thereof.

Ed Bertschinger's suggestion to value outreach is useful, because  
students who do outreach usually end up feeling more worthwhile about  
the science they are studying.

4. Why are there so Few Female Engineers?
From:  Meg Urry [meg.urry_at_yale.edu]

My daughter (the future engineer) sent me this [great cartoon]:


AASWOMEN readers will enjoy it!

5.  4th Essential Cosmology for the Next Generation
From: Eric Linder [evlinder_at_lbl.gov]

Berkeley Center for Cosmological Physics and the Instituto Avanzado de  
Cosmologia are organizing their 4th annual Essential Cosmology for the  
Next Generation (aka Cosmology on the Beach) winter school / research  
conference on January 16-20, 2012 in Cancun, Mexico.

The conference website is


and the application deadline is October 15.

We strongly encourage a diverse group of advanced graduate students  
and postdocs to participate. Established researchers enthusiastic  
about interacting are also welcome. Please let other interested  
people know about this meeting, although attendance is limited.

6. Job Opportunities

a. NRAO has various job opportunities such as postdoctoral fellows to work with
the North American ALMA Science Center and the 2012 Jansky Fellowship Program.
Please see:


b. Astronomy Lecturer and Outreach Director, University of Oregon


c. Tenure Track, Harvey Mudd College


7. How to Submit to the AASWOMEN newsletter

To submit an item to the AASWOMEN newsletter, including replies to  
topics, send email to aaswomen_at_aas.org

All material will be posted unless you tell us otherwise, including  
your email address.

Please remember to replace "_at_" in the e-mail address above.

8.  How to Subscribe or Unsubscribe to the AASWOMEN newsletter

To subscribe or unsubscribe to the AASWOMEN newsletter, please fill in  
the required information at:


If you experience any problems, please email itdept_at_aas.org

9.  Access to Past Issues


Each annual summary includes an index of topics covered.


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End of AASWList Digest, Vol 54, Issue 4