Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Stemming the Leak

By Fran Bagenal (University of Colorado, Boulder)

How come I hadn’t noticed these facts before? I thought I was pretty much aware of the demographics of women in physics, but the plot below distributed by the American Institute of Physics last spring had me flabbergasted. What has been going on for the past 15 years that has caused the percentage of US bachelors in physics going to women to drop from nearly 24% down below 20%?

The good news is that absolute number of women getting physics degrees (both bachelors and PhDs) are at record values. And the total number of physics degrees, after oscillating around 4000 for the past 50 years, has shot up to 8000/year. Indeed, talking to physics departments around the country I hear reports of bulging enrollments and needs for moving to larger classrooms.

So why is this expansion preferentially male rather than female? Why are men flocking to physics at a proportionally greater rate than women? I fi
nd it very hard to believe that the market for women physicists is saturated and that out of the whole US population only 1550 young women want to study physics.

Friday, April 13, 2018

AASWomen Newsletter for April 13, 2018

AAS Committee on the Status of Women
Issue of April 13, 2018
eds: Nicolle Zellner, Heather Flewelling, Cristina Thomas, and Maria Patterson

This week's issues:

1. Equal Pay Day 2018               
2. JAXA International Top Young Fellowship (ITYF) 2018 Spring 
3. The Habits of Light: A Celebration of Pioneering Astronomer Henrietta Leavitt… 
4. @nytgender instagram account
5. Science’s Invisible Women 
6. For SHE’s a Jolly Good Fellow?
7. Not smart enough? Men overestimate intelligence in science class  
8. How to Submit to the AASWomen Newsletter
9. How to Subscribe or Unsubscribe to the AASWomen Newsletter
10. Access to Past Issues of the AASWomen Newsletter

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Equal Pay Day 2018

By Angela Speck 

April 10th 2018 is “Equal Pay Day”. It is the day in 2018 that women have to work until to earn the same as men did in 2017. In fact, this isn’t even a true statement. For women of color Equal Pay day is later in the year: https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/equal-pay-day-is-not-equal-at-all-for-women-of-color_us_58e3ec04e4b09deecf0e1af4. In 2016, white women earned 77 cents on the dollar compared to what men earned; African American women earned 64 cents on the dollar and Hispanic women only earned 56 cents on the dollar. Within academia in the US, women earn 80 cents on the dollar:https://www.aauw.org/research/the-simple-truth-about-the-gender-pay-gap/.

As a white woman, and a woman with a tenured position, I acknowledge my privilege amongst women. I am sharing my story about pay and gender inequity knowing that it could be worse.

Last year, on Equal Pay Day 2017, I sent the (male) chair of my department an email regarding my pay compared to that of a colleague. It’s always difficult to compare faculty salaries. Our paths to tenure and promotion are all different. Our research topics are always at least somewhat different, so making a direct comparison is tricky. But I happen to have a story in which we come as close as ever to direct comparison.

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Where Are We on Harassment?

By Aparna Venkatesan

The year 2015 was a watershed moment for mainstream awareness of harassment in astronomy and physics, with individual cases involving decades-long harassment and long-term fallout for junior astronomers making national news. This was a galvanizing call to action for those working in astronomy and astrophysics, ahead of the recent #MeToo and other powerful movements. 2015 was also the year when the first Inclusive Astronomy meeting was held at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, TN, resulting in concrete recommendations endorsed by the AAS Council for creating an inclusive workplace and professional community (link for the  Nashville Recommendations for Inclusive Astronomy at AAS Groups wiki: https://tiki.aas.org/tiki-index.php?page=Inclusive_Astronomy_The_Nashville_Recommendations)

Clancy et al. (2017) demonstrated that a significant difference exists
in the percent of individuals who have felt unsafe in their current
position due to gender and race.  
Although harassment can occur in a variety of ways and environments, some groups are especially vulnerable and targeted by harassers, as reported by Clancy, Lee, Rodgers & Richey (2017; “Double jeopardy in astronomy and planetary science: Women of color face greater risks of gendered and racial harassment”, J. Geophys. Res. Planets, 122, 1610–1623; PDF  available at: https://agupubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/pdf/10.1002/2017JE005256). This team of authors includes social scientists, astronomers, and planetary scientists. Their results are based on an online survey of workplace experiences conducted between 2011 and 2015 of 474 astronomers and planetary scientists, with the survey created by former CSWA Chair Christina Richey and Erica Rodgers. (For further discussion on the survey, an interview with the paper authors can be found here: https://eos.org/editors-vox/harassment-in-astronomy-and-planetary-science.) Some key points from this AAS-supported work include (with the survey and methodology caveats noted by the authors): women experience more physical and verbal harassment than men, and people of color (POC) experience more physical and verbal harassment than white respondents. Women of color are especially at risk for all types of harassment (including assault) and hostile workplace experiences compared with white women and men of color. The authors drew attention to decades of research on women of color being at greater risk of both gendered and racialized harassment (Moraga and Anzaldua, 1981; Carter 1988; Prescod-Weinstein, 2014, 2015, and other references in article), as seen in the accompanying figure (WM = white men, WW = white women, MOC = men of color, WOC = women of color; numbers at the bottom figure are the raw count for each category). Those with multiple subordinate-group identities might experience different kinds and levels of oppressions relative to those with a single subordinate-group identity. 

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Cross-post: "Elderly Woman" Is Not a Synonym for "Clueless Person"

A recent article in the Voices section of Scientific American by Josie Glausiusz on March 20, 2018 addresses the stereotype that elderly women are incapable of understanding scientific and technical topics.

For the complete article go to: https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/voices/elderly-woman-is-not-a-synonym-for-clueless-person/