Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Cross-post: DPS/EPSC 2016 Plenary on Unconscious Bias by Dr. Patricia Knezek

This is a cross posting from the Women in Planetary Science blog.

The new DPS Sub-committee on Professional Culture and Climate implemented many ideas at the 2016 meeting in Pasadena, some of which were: a plenary talk featured in this post, more prominent displays of the anti-harassment policy at the meeting entrances, a hotline for reporting harassment incidents, and additional questions about the meeting climate on the post-meeting survey. The meeting survey will be e-mailed to attendees in the near future, please take a moment to fill it out!

knezek_patricia-100x150Dr. Patricia Knezek insightful talk outlines the prevalence and importance of unconscious bias, what it is (and what it is not), demographic data (including some for planetary science by Julie Rathbun and others), and what we can do to mitigate unconscious bias.
Her slides are available here.

If you have not already taken the Harvard Implicit Association Test, it is an interesting way to test your own biases (and not just for gender bias!)

Thanks to Patricia for this talk, and for the members of the DPS Professional Climate and Culture sub-committee for all of your efforts towards making the meeting a comfortable space for all.

Friday, December 2, 2016

AASWomen Newsletter for December 2, 2016

AAS Committee on the Status of Women
Issue of December 2, 2016
eds: Nicolle Zellner, Heather Flewelling, Christina Thomas, and Maria Patterson

This week's issues:

1. 500 Women Scientists
2. 2016 Holiday Gift Guide   
3. Cross Posts: On the US Election: Inclusion, Allyship, & Solidarity in Astronomy & Planetary Science
4. Now Open: L'Oreal USA For Women in Science Fellowship Application      
5. Next Scholar Program Accepting Applications  
6. Berkeley Students Are Challenging How Faculty Harassment Is Handled
7. The Search for Hidden Figures (contest announcement)
8. High School Girls Have Designed Africa's First Private Satellite
9. Children Learn Early On That Scientists Are Men
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 of the AASWomen Newsletter

Monday, November 28, 2016

500 Women Scientists

A group of women scientists who have been working in Washington as AAAS science fellows have written an open letter to the US congress and the new administration expressing their concerns. The full text is below. This effort was inspired by a letter of 100 women of color and the letter from the National Academies of Science.

They have also formed a group, through which they plan to create "strike teams" of group members to address the issues detailed in the letter and other issues of interest to the group members.  If you are interested in getting involved, please sign-up on their web page. Note that the letter is not restricted to issues of the US and acknowledges the global nature of science, they welcome non-US-resident-signatories.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

2016 Holiday Gift Guide

Image From NASA: courtesy of The Cassini-Huygens Project team.
For the past few years, the Women in Astronomy blog has posted a holiday gift guide in preparation for the vast array of holidays celebrated in December. The 2014 post included links to various shopping and blogging sites focused on science and empowering girls (many of which are still useful today), and the 2015 post focused on a gift giving guide from the creators of STARtorialist. Just in time for Black Friday and Cyber Monday, here's the 2016 Holiday Gift Guide, which is mostly links to help get the perfect gifts for the space fans in your life this holiday season.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Cross Posts: On the US Election: Inclusion, Allyship, & Solidarity in Astronomy & Planetary Science

Several statements, in addition to two (Nov. 9th and Nov. 14th) posted via the Women in Astronomy blog, have been posted by groups affiliated with the American Astronomical Society with regards to the recent US Presidential election and the need for inclusion, allyship, and the safe guarding of our colleagues and friends. Three of those pieces are attached (in brief forms with links to their fuller versions) here: The November 9th blog from the Astronomy in Color Blog, the November 18th post from AAS President Christine Jones on behalf of the AAS Council, and the November 20th post on the Women in Planetary Science Blog from the Men's Auxiliary Group who recently met at the Division for Planetary Sciences Conference.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Losing Privilege and Gaining Something Else

by Jessica Mink, Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory

Jessica and Darian,
neighbors and tandem partners
Not many people have the experience of giving up a trait which carries with it a significant amount of privilege in our society. When I changed my gender five years ago this month, several of my woman astronomer friends asked me how I experienced life differently after I gave up my male privilege. I thought that I knew some of the answers a year ago and wrote what I had learned in a post, "On Becoming a Woman Astronomer". As I have learned more, I continue to find more uncertainty about my place in the world. I've realized that in significant parts of my life, I'll continue for a long time to be seen as a transwoman because my personal history has two differently-gendered chapters. Here is another annual installment in my unending journey.

In my world, being transgender has tended to be positive. Far more people have congratulated me for my courage than have insulted me, at least to my face. This is not true of all of my trans friends, and that difference is always in my mind as I try to figure out how much is good fortune and what I can teach others from my experience. I've enjoyed more involvement in the world, being asked to represent the T of LGBTQ because I'm more out than most of my demographic. An eight-month stint as chair of the board of our local transgender chorus led people to believe that I was a local trans leader. I got to know a bigger sample of the trans community, was interviewed  by a local NPR station, and got invited to places I'd never been before. I've also learned that past male privilege has followed me into my new life, maybe because in my controlled experiment I was trying to change only my gender but not my environment. I still get credit for things that I did as a male, so people tend to think of me in a less gendered way than if I had always been a woman.

I decided to write about this because of several recent events which made me think about where I am, both in and out of the astronomical part of my life. It started with a workshop on negotiation for women at work two weeks ago, where it turned out that I knew more about negotiation than I expected. I also learned that women have a harder time finding a the right style of argument than men. A couple of days later, I participated in a panel on intersectionality in science at a nearby university as the trans/female representative. I got a lot of time to listen to the concerns of undergraduate women and realized that I'm probably too old to experience the harassment that younger women seem to get almost everywhere. By missing that kind of experience, I won't ever quite feel what other women in science (or elsewhere, for that matter) feel.

Then there was the election, which seems to have brought out a backlash against women, especially those that act out of the box, and trans people.  I still tend to act as if I can do anything without having my gender questioned, but now worry more that I will inadvertently out myself as trans when I don't want to be.

Other minority groups seem to be more open to me than they were before I changed, and I try to be as open to them. It's been interesting to move between single-race groups which are trying unsuccessfully to be more inclusive and other groups which just are inclusive. I keep trying to figure out how what I've learned from my own intersectionality can be used to include and empower divided demographic groups in my city, state, country, avocations, and profession.

Just this past weekend, I attended a 25th anniversary meeting of the East Coast Greenway Alliance, which I helped start. Most of my original colleagues, who I had not seen for many years, were there and instantly accepted me, though with a bit of surprise. While our planned trail goes through all of the major cities on the East Coast from Maine to Florida, including a quite diverse population, its support group is maybe even whiter than astronomy, despite early attempts to be more inclusive. There is a lot of work to be done!

I returned to my Boston community for Saturday dinner in honor of a black woman bicyclist who had just biked across the country with her violin and dog. The group was integrated racially and a major contrast from that I had been in all day. It's not that the constituency is not there, just like there are people of many races who want to be astronomers. We all need to think about what the barriers are and how they affect how our profession connects to the world.