Tuesday, May 24, 2016

A Data Driven Approach to Ending the Wage Gap

Originally printed in Quartz:

More than 20 years that have passed since the National Committee on Pay Equity first called for action on the gender wage gap. But not much has changed. Women continue to earn less than men, and research shows that women often have less successful salary negotiations, sacrificing tens of thousands of dollars in future earnings. As a woman who works in the tech industry, I often find myself asking: What will it take to truly drive change and close the gender wage gap?

For me, the answer is data.

After I graduated with a PhD in Astrophysics from UC Berkeley, I was interviewing for a job as a data scientist in San Francisco. My prospective new boss said, “I know you make about $14,000 a year as a graduate student at Berkeley, I’m going to offer you more than that.” And he did! Imagine my excitement when my starting salary was much more than my graduate stipend.

At the time, I had no idea what I should be making, nor did I know how to negotiate, as my last “job” had been in a completely different industry. What’s more, I had no other comparable offers to use as a baseline. I attempted to a higher salary because I was told that you always should, but I was ultimately unsuccessful.

Read the full story at Quartz.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

"Phynd the Physicist": A Game to Open Dialog About Inclusion in Physics

Today's guest blogger, Misty Bentz, is an Assistant (nay, Associate!) Professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at Georgia State University. Misty is an expert at making black hole mass measurements using reverberation mapping techniques, which she uses to study the broad line region and the relationship between AGN and their host galaxies. Misty's post is the second in a new series of blogs (the first is here) that describe how instructors tackle social justice issues in their physics and astronomy classrooms.

For the past few years, I have been teaching a required course for entering physics majors, “Gateway to Physics”, at Georgia State University. The course is intended to introduce students to the wide world of exciting physics research and (hopefully) kindle their enthusiasm for studying physics even as they work through their introductory courses.

To this end, we don’t spend time solving problems about balls rolling down inclined planes. Instead, the course is formatted as a seminar that meets once per week for 2 hours and is centered around visits from physics and astronomy faculty, each visitor spending an hour discussing their research and their physics subfield. The students also have semester-long group projects where they independently explore a physics topic to learn the current state of the field (past topics have included wormholes, spacecraft propulsion, extremophiles, quantum computing, biomimicry, and skyscraper design). The last meeting of the semester is a “behind the scenes” tour of several physics research labs.

Monday, May 16, 2016

The Surprising Lessons Depression Taught Me

Today's guest post is by Nicole Cabrera Salazar. Nicole is an NSF Graduate Research Fellow at Georgia State University. She plans to pursue a career in science communication/outreach focusing on equity in STEM. 

Back in December I opened up about taking a break from writing my dissertation to focus on my mental health. As scary as it was to walk away from research, it turned out to be the right choice for me. Here, I highlight the lessons I learned during this difficult time.

1. Depression Lies
If you’ve never experienced depression, it can be hard to understand what it feels like. The best way I can describe it is that my brain was constantly lying to me. The very things that would have helped me overcome the depression were the things my brain was telling me to avoid. I withdrew from everyone around me, even though just a short phone call with my family would have made me feel better. I stayed in my apartment for days, when a brief walk outside would have lifted my spirits. My brain also said that I would never feel better. The hardest part was gathering the energy to actively fight those lies so I could start the process of getting better.

Friday, May 13, 2016

AASWomen Newsletter for May 13, 2016

AAS Committee on the Status of Women
Issue of May 13, 2016
eds: Daryl Haggard, Nicolle Zellner, Elysse Voyer, & Heather Flewelling

This week's issues:

1. Sexual Harassment – Changing the System II     
2. Career Profiles: Astronomer to Philanthropic Program Officer   
3. AAS Education Task Force seeks input  
4. Big Pay Differences Among New Male, Female Ph.D.s
5. These new emojis could finally reflect that women are professionals, too
6. Marie Skłodowska-Curie Fellowships at the University of Bath
7. The Peer Prize for Women in Science
8. Job Opportunities  
9. How to Submit to the AASWomen Newsletter
10. How to Subscribe or Unsubscribe to the AASWomen Newsletter
11. Access to Past Issues of the AASWomen Newsletter

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Sexual Harassment – Changing the System II

[This post is Part II of an expanded version of my World View column in NATURE, Change the System to Halt Harassment from 08 February 2016. Universities and their senior staff must do more to deter, detect and punish all forms of inappropriate behavior – JTS]

This series discusses what can be done by people with power to change the system and begin to eliminate sexual harassment from our community. Part I discussed the role of senior academics and department chairs. Here, I focus on university administrators and leaders of our professional organizations, but I also want to make sure that anyone facing sexual harassment knows that help is out there. Please talk to someone you trust and rest assured that you are not alone. 

University Administrators

Every university needs an office where students/postodcs/faculy/staff can talk anonymously about harassment. For lack of a better name, I am going to refer to it as the Office of Good Advice. This office must be fundamentally separate from the Affirmative Action office, University Counsel, or University Police, all of which are responsible for reporting under Title IX. Office of Good Advice should be well known to everyone on campus, it should be staffed with trained professionals, and it should be the first thing that comes up on a web search for “sexual harassment.” Anyone on campus who needs to talk about harassment issues should know which university employees are obligated to report incidents and which can keep reports confidential. 

Every university needs an Office of Good Advice not only because students fear that they might be pressed to make a formal, legally viable report, but also because the staff in the legally responsible offices are often, with no malicious intent, unable to listen objectively and sensitively. Students might later report that they were asked intimidating and inappropriate questions that appeared to undermine the validity of their complaint like, “Were you drinking?” or “Are you unhappy with your grade in his course?” No matter how well-meaning, staff members in offices responsible for upholding the law cannot help but be influenced by that responsibility and by knowing the requirements of an investigation.  

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Upcoming Webinar from AWIS: "Spot and Stop It: How to End Harassment at Professional Meetings"

The Association for Women in Science (AWIS) is hosting a webinar on Thursday, 12 May, at 12:00 pm ET about proactive strategies in addressing harassment at professional meetings and conferences.

Topics to be discussed include:
  • How to create proactive sexual harassment policies and effective procedures to stop harassment
  • Identifying venues for harassment in addition to the workplace and school
  • Engaging society staff and members on the issue
The one-hour webinar will be led by guest speakers Rosina Romano, the Entomological Society of America's Director of Meetings, and Dr. Sherry Marts, CEO of S*Marts Consulting, long-time executive and career coach, expert on harassment issues, and women's self-defense instructor. Learn more and register for this webinar.

AWIS is kindly offering complimentary registration for this webinar to AAS members. Enter "AAS" as the registration code when registering to view this webinar for free.