Friday, July 31, 2015

AASWOMEN Newsletter for July 31, 2015

AAS Committee on the Status of Women
Issue of July 31, 2015
eds: Daryl Haggard, Nicolle Zellner, Meredith Hughes, & Elysse Voyer

This week's issues:

1. Career Panel Discussion
2. Online Harassment: The Dangers and Damages 
3. Men Totally Overestimate Their Math Skills And It May Explain The STEM Gender Gap 
4. LEGO Adds More Women in Science to Its Lineup  
5. There is crying in science. That’s okay.
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

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Join us live: Career Panel Discussion this Thursday (7/30) 12-1pm CDT

Astronomers develop an incredibly useful (and employable!) set of skills while pursuing their degree and research interests. The latest stats indicate that while ~75% of recent astronomy Ph.D.s accepted a postdoc position, over 80% eventually pursue careers outside the tenure track faculty route.

To provide insight into the range of careers astronomers pursue and share advice and lessons learned along the way, we provided a series of Career Profiles.

Our next experiment is to host a live, online Career Panel discussion.

When: Thursday, July 30th from 12-1pm CDT
Where: Live via Google Hangouts

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Online Harassment: The Dangers and Damages

Today’s guest blogger is Faïza Harbi. Faïza was harassed online by former MIT physics professor, Walter Lewin, during a MOOC. She courageously came forward with her story, Lewin Complainant Tells of Harassment and MIT Says Famous Professor Was Sexually Harassing Students Online. Here she describes how the experience impacted her and what you can do to help.

Imagine a man you don’t know, yet everybody in your study group idolizes and considers a Physics Rockstar, contacts you privately. Imagine him showing you consideration and attention, telling you he’s going to help you regain some self-confidence through his physics course. Imagine you become friends with this man. This is an important event for someone who only has bad memories from physics in high school! It’s going to make a change, obviously, with a man like that caring about your progress and wanting to help you on a personal level. It could have an impact on that confidence issue you have!

Now, imagine that moment when you suddenly realize that it was all one big lie, that all he wanted was to gain your trust to exploit your weaknesses and use them against you, revealing his true motives: to use you for sexual purposes whether you wanted it or not.

This is exactly what happened to me when I enrolled in Walter Lewin’s physics massive open online course (MOOC) run through edX and MIT. I had struggled when I was younger to understand physics. And so when Lewin reached out to me, one of 100,000 students, I was taken aback. I had no clue why he chose me, an average student, who doubts her abilities every single day.

It took Lewin three weeks to insidiously steer our friendly conversations to a sexual nature, taking advantage of the slowly growing confidence he was instilling in me. What was it that he wanted from me? Was it the only reason he was trying to make me feel special? He knew I had been raped at a very young age and to what extent this has influenced my everyday life. He used my past to destroy all my defense mechanisms. He used the fear he knew I felt to force himself on me online, constantly demanding explicit pictures of me and sending explicit pictures of him.

Thursday, July 23, 2015


The below is a guest post by Dr. Sarah Tuttle, a research associate at McDonald Observatory at the University of Texas at Austin. She is the instrument scientist for VIRUS, a massively replicated spectrograph being built for HETDEX (Hobby Eberly Telescope Dark Energy Experiment).

Background: Campus Reform is a news organization website connected to the Conservative right “Leadership Institute”.  They describe themselves as a “watchdog to the nation’s higher education system”, exposing “liberal bias and abuses at universities” (from their author bios). They have aggregated a collection of tweets by an astrophysicist discussing the prevalence of systemic racism and the issues of white supremacy in our society which has led to personal attacks against her.

Monday, July 20, 2015

The Fight for Women's Suffrage

I wrote a blog in June on the early women's rights movement in the US and the famous Seneca Falls Convention.  As with the civil rights movement, Quakers played a key role in the push toward equality.  Today I am writing about the fascinating story of the suffrage movement in the late 1800's and early 1900's that gave women the right to vote, and the leadership that Susan B. Anthony provided.

Susan B. Anthony coin first minted in 1979

A resolution was passed at the 1848 Seneca Falls Convention in favor of women voting, but was one of many.  Toward the end of the 19th century, particularly after the civil war (1861 - 1865), suffrage became a focus of the women's movement.  The goal was first to have the Supreme Court rule that women had a constitutional right to vote under the existing US constitution.  When that failed in 1875, the more difficult effort began to amend the constitution.