Friday, November 21, 2014

AASWOMEN Newsletter for November 21, 2014

AAS Committee on the Status of Women AAS Committee on the Status of Women
Issue of November 21, 2014
eds: Daryl Haggard, Nicolle Zellner, Meredith Hughes, & Elysse Voyer

This week's issues:

1. It's Not About That Damn Shirt

2. Why I Think Diversity is Good, but the Wrong Target

3. How to Apologize

4. Full STEAM Ahead! The Adler Planetarium's 2nd Annual Girls Do Hack Day

5. How U. of San Diego Added 8 Female STEM Professors

6. Emmy Noether Visiting Fellowships

7. Barbie Book about Programming Tells Girls They Need Boys to Code for Them

8. NSF Grad Forum

9. Job Opportunities

10. How to Submit to the AASWOMEN newsletter

11. How to Subscribe or Unsubscribe to the AASWOMEN newsletter

12. Access to Past Issues

Thursday, November 20, 2014

It's Not About That Damn Shirt

The following was submitted to the Women in Astronomy Blog by a female astronomer who wishes to use the pseudonym Kerri Benjamin.

The next sentence is the most important thing in this whole post:  

I am posting this under a pseudonym because I am afraid to post it on my own blog or Twitter.

I am afraid. 

The snafu known as ShirtGate or ShirtStorm is complicated, nuanced, and exhausting. 

The below is not comprehensive. I'm going to talk about the things I consider to be the most important or most misunderstood. I'm doing bullet points because I am too damn tired to make this narratively pretty. And I don't mean physically exhausted. I am tired of THIS. THIS is sexism, in the world, in science, and on the Internet. 

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Why I think diversity is good, but the wrong target

There have been many posts on this blog and elsewhere calling for increased diversity in astronomy. I've written about it. My student has written about it. Diversity has many benefits, and we're missing out on those benefits by not having a more diverse field of science. However, I'm becoming less and less enamored with diversity as a target or goal in and of itself.
This stock photo shows more diversity than exists in astronomy today, but illustrates
what counts as diversity in most campus discussions. The out-of-focus Black person
is particularly apropos to this discussion.
Short Version

If we only focus on diversity, we'll be like a CEO saying that her goal is to "make money." Ohhh-kay. But how, specifically? By what strategy and mechanisms will the CEO make money? 

It'd be like a coach of a sports team saying, "Our goal is to score more points than our opponents!" By what strategy? What offensive and defensive approach will you use? "Nope, we're just focused on scoring points!"

Diversity is something we should strive for. But how will we get there? I contend that we'll only get to diversity by attacking the power structures that hold us back and stand in the way of diversity. For gender diversity, the roadblock is sexism. For racial diversity, the roadblock is racism

So rather than focusing on diversity as a target, we should instead aim at equal opportunity. Sexism and racism aim to deny equal opportunities to those outside of the white-male power structure. White women have made gains by directly attacking sexist power structures. But this process has left women of color behind. Gains for women (and men) of color will only be made once organizations such as the CSWA start taking an intersectional approach that recognizes that women of color face not only sexism, but racism as well in their daily lives (note how this direct attack on power structures contrasts with "multiculturalism"). 

Long Version

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

How to Apologize

The astronomy community has been reeling this past week from the aftermath of the Rosetta #ShirtStorm incident. The scientist who made this mistake has apologized -- which is very difficult to do -- and I applaud him for doing that.  Even people with the best intentions mess up and make mistakes; it is a great opportunity to reflect and learn. Here is a video by Franchesca Ramsey on how to apologize when you've been called out.  She uses an example from her own life where she was transphobic, got called out, and how she responded.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Full STEAM Ahead! The Adler Planetarium’s 2nd Annual Girls do Hack Day


Choo choo! I am full STEAM ahead on the STEM + art/design train. This past Saturday, at our 2nd annual Girls do Hack Day at the Adler Planetarium, I saw first-hand how well it works to use the creativity and fun of art/design to hook girls into STEM. 

Friday, November 14, 2014

AASWOMEN Newsletter for November 14, 2014

AAS Committee on the Status of Women
Issue of November 14, 2014
eds: Daryl Haggard, Nicolle Zellner, Meredith Hughes, & Elysse Voyer

This week's issues:




Astronomical Sexism: Rosetta #ShirtStorm and Everyday Sexism in STEM

This post was originally published by STEM Women.

The world has been abuzz with news that the Rosetta spacecraft landed on a comet 500 million kilometres from Earth, in an attempt to collect vital data about the origins of our solar system. The aim is to benefit humanity. Unfortunately, this event is also marred for women in STEM and our allies due to the pervasive power of sexism. Rosetta Project scientist Matt Taylor chose to wear a shirt with semi-nude women, effectively telling the world and our next generation of STEM workers that sexism is still very much part of our professional culture.


By the way, this is not the first time he’s publicly worn this shirt. He tweeted that he received the shirt as a present in early October and none of his 2,700 followers on Twitter paid attention. Most worrying is that he is photographed in an office – which suggests he may have worn this shirt to work and none of his management nor colleagues pointed out the inappropriate attire.

This comes only a couple of weeks since The New York Times declared that sexism in academia is dead (as we noted, this claim was based on a highly flawed study). What this wardrobe choice says is that some male scientists in strategic positions for major science organisations do not see equality as a serious issue. Taylor works for the European Space Agency and he is prominently featured on a NASA website.