Friday, September 19, 2014

AASWOMEN Newsletter for September 19, 2014

AAS Committee on the Status of Women AAS Committee on the Status of Women
Issue of September 19, 2014
eds: Daryl Haggard, Nicolle Zellner, Meredith Hughes, & Elysse Voyer

This week's issues:

1. Gender Bias in Guest Observer Programs

2. Career Profiles: Astronomer to Associate Director of the NASA Lunar Science Institute

3. Study Shows Few Male Scientists are Involved Dads

4. Career Profiles: Astronomer to Chief of the Nautical Almanac Office

5. Hertz Fellows

6. Article on Gender Quotas from the New Republic

7. What My Bike Has Taught Me about White Privilege

8. DPS WIPS Lunch 2014

9. Astronomy Ambassadors Workshop for Early-Career AAS Members

10. Job Opportunities

11. How to Submit to the AASWOMEN newsletter

12. How to Subscribe or Unsubscribe to the AASWOMEN newsletter

13. Access to Past Issues

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Career Profiles: Astronomer to Chief of the Nautical Almanac Office at the US Naval Observatory

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. The interviews share advice and lessons learned from individuals on those paths.

Below is our interview with Sethanne Howard, an astronomer turned Chief of the Nautical Almanac Office at the US Naval Observatory. If you have questions, suggestions, advice to share, etc. about this career path, please leave a comment below.

For access to all our Career Profile Project interviews, please visit http://aas.org/jobs/career-profiles. We plan to post a new career profile to this blog every Thursday.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Study Shows Few Male Scientists are Involved Dads

Reproduced from this Washington Post article by Brigid Schulte

For years, people have been puzzling over why there are so few women in science, technology, engineering and math, and why the university professors who teach the subjects are predominantly men.

Is it genetics? Preference? Caregiving responsibilities? An unwelcoming environment?

Turns out, according to a new study released Thursday on men in academic science, it may have a lot to do with the boss.

The majority of tenured full professors at some of the most prestigious universities in the country, who have the most power to hire and fire and set the workplace expectation of long hours, are men who have either a full-time spouse at home who handles all caregiving and home duties, or a spouse with a part-time or secondary career who takes primary responsibility for the home.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Career Profiles: Astronomer to Associate Director of the NASA Lunar Science Institute

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. The interviews share advice and lessons learned from individuals on those paths.

Below is our interview with Doris Daou, an astronomer turned Associate Director of the NASA Solar System Exploration Research Virtual Institute. If you have questions, suggestions, advice to share, etc. about this career path, please leave a comment below.

For access to all our Career Profile Project interviews, please visit http://aas.org/jobs/career-profiles. We plan to post a new career profile to this blog every Thursday.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Gender Bias in Guest Observer Programs

A recent paper on arXiv (1409.3528) by I. Neill Reid at STScI is an eye-opener.  It presents a detailed study of gender bias in HST guest observer selection.  The results are very clear: female PIs are systematically less successful in winning HST observing time than their male colleagues.

The HST review process has been carefully designed and tweaked over the years to be fair.  Conflicts of interest and competitive bias are dealt with by having proposals judged in panels that do not have members involved in those proposals.  Institutional conflicts of interest are also guarded against.  Gender bias is much harder to deal with, particularly if it is in a form of unconscious bias.  The first step in addressing any such bias is to determine if it exists and to what extent.  That is the purpose of the study.

The study covers HST Cycles 11 through 20 from 2001 to 2012.  The number of proposals submitted in those cycles was 9400 and number accepted was ~2100.  Since proposers were not required to give their gender, there was worked needed in the study to determine the gender of the PI for each proposal.  This was done by first name identification and web searches where necessary.

One of the primary results of the study is shown in the figure below.  The success rate of male PIs is seen to be higher than that of female PIs in every cycle.  The overall success rate for male PIs is 23.5% compared with 18.1% for female PIs.





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One question that obviously comes up is what the gender diversity of the Time Allocation Committee diversity was.  There was an effort made by STScI to increase the fraction of women on the panels which resulted in a factor of more than two increase from Cycle 11 to 20, from 18% to 50%.  Interestingly, this did not result in a noticeable change in female PI success rate relative to male PIs.

The paper points out that previous studies have found that "unconscious" or "implicit" bias can be a significant factor in the scientific community.   Scientists participating in peer review are instructed to be unbiased and, as whole, try hard to achieve that.  Still peer review is a subjective process with personal judgment required and unconscious factor can enter in.  This may well be the cause of the HST results. 

One result of the study is that reviewers are now made aware of the overall lower success rate of female PIs in past reviews at the pre-review briefing.  Also, unconscious bias is discussed with them.  It is not clear yet if this will cause in changes in the results.  A welcome trend is that there is an ever increasing number of proposals submitted by female PIs, from 19% in cycle 11 to 26% in cycle 21.

Friday, September 12, 2014

AASWOMEN Newsletter for September 12, 2014

AAS Committee on the Status of Women AAS Committee on the Status of Women
Issue of September 12, 2014
eds: Daryl Haggard, Nicolle Zellner, Meredith Hughes, & Elysse Voyer

SPECIAL EDITION: Fed Up with Sexual Harassment II: The Solutions Series

1. The Solutions Series

2. Information Escrows

3. The Astronomy Allies Program

4. The SAFE study w/ Dr. Kate Clancy

5. Strategies for Addressing and Overcoming Harassment

6. How to Submit to the AASWomen Newsletter

7. How to Subscribe or Unsubscribe to the AASWomen Newsletter

8. Access to Past Issues of the AASWomen Newsletter

Fed Up with Sexual Harassment II: Strategies for Addressing and Overcoming Harassment

Reproduced from the July Issue of STATUS: A report on Women in Astronomy.  By Sheryl Bruff, Branch Chief of Human Resources, Space Telescope Science Institute and Bernice Durand, Emerita Vice Provost for Diversity and Climate at the University of Wisconsin.

The American Astronomical Society (AAS) has an anti-harassment policy [1], and has stated its commitment to leadership in developing “people” skills and its desire to identify and disseminate best practices and tools. This talk was proposed and developed to further the AAS membership’s knowledge of what constitutes harassment and how individuals and institutions should respond to it. It was presented at the Seattle Annual Meeting of the American Astronomical Society January 10, 2011.

Why should we care?
Great science and discovery are enabled by an open climate where individuals are free to share knowledge, opinions, beliefs and ideas. This cannot and will not happen if a segment(s) of the practitioners are disenfranchised and disrespected. We see ongoing efforts to broaden participation in astronomy, particularly for women and under-represented minorities. In astronomy, there is an established, though fragile, trend in these directions. Full engagement of these constituencies hinges on creating a climate of inclusion, respect and openness.