Committee on the Status of Women in Astronomy

This page links to our pages on issues that typically face women in science.

On the individual pages, resources are in chronological order of publication. Scroll to the bottom of the page for the most recent items.

On these pages, the CSWA lists, along with very short summaries or quotes, resources that may be helpful in addressing these issues in individual careers. We would welcome suggestions on other topics we might cover.

At the bottom of this page, we list other Internet resources, many of which address multiple topics covered here.

We thank Laura Trouille, Ed Bertschinger, and Caroline Simpson for compiling much of the information needed to launch these pages.

At this time, these listings are incomplete. Please send additional suggestions for listings to the webmaster.

Resources elsewhere on the CSWA web site:

Other Resources

Testimony prepared for the conference "Seeking Solutions: Maximizing American Talent by Advancing Women of Color in Academia" about barriers faced by women of color in astronomy and astrophysics. It is included in a summary of the entire conference, which is available here.

General career advice from CareerWise at Arizona State University (comprehensive site, registration required)

Good advice and self-help techniques on many aspects of functioning in a professional setting. Aimed at Ph. D. students, but should be valuable for postdocs and others as well.

Committee on Women in Science, Engineering, and Medicine (CWSEM)

'The Committee on Women in Science, Engineering, and Medicine (CWSEM) is a standing committee of the National Research Council (NRC). Its mandate is to coordinate, monitor, and advocate action to increase the participation of women in science, engineering, and medicine. Established in 1990 as CWSE, the committee expanded its scope in 2007 to include medicine.'

This site has links to statistics and to many blogs by and about women in science.

Tooling Up Index

A nice compilation of articles on career development from Science Careers.

Virginia Tech ADVANCE Work-Life Balance Portal

Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math Resources for Women and Girls from the American Association of University Women (AAUW)

Extensive list of resources across many fields of science and engineering.

Scholarships for Women

The National Postdoctoral Association maintains a clearinghouse of promising practices entitled, Potential Interventions to Aid in Retaining Postdoc Women

ASBMB Policy Blotter: An ongoing conversation: women in science Part of the blog of the American Society for Biochemistry And Molecular Biology. Latest post: December 4, 2009

"Academic Careers" from the MIT Career Development Center - Extensive, general page. Resource categories include

  • The Academic Job Search
  • Negotiating Offers
  • Dual Career Couples/Worklife Balance

National Clearinghouse on Academic Worklife from the University of Michigan Center for the Education of Women

Articles, policy examples, and discussions are available on topics ranging from family-friendly benefits, tenure attainment, and faculty satisfaction to policy development, productivity, and demographics. Use the search box to search for materials on the topic of your choice, such as, "dual-career couples." Science, Math, and Engineering Career Resources including a page on the two-body problem in job searches

Resources from the University of Illinois at Chicago ADVANCE program

"Having a Life in Science," by Beth Baker, in BioScience, Vol. 61, No. 6 (June 2011), pp. 429-433

Copyrighted material; institutional access or login required to see full text. Interesting comparison of work-life balance associated with various career paths in biology.

"Women Atop Their Fields Dissect the Scientific Life," by Gina Kolata, New York Times, June 6, 2011

"Elena Aprile, Joy Hirsch, Mary-Claire King and Tal Rabin are members of a rare breed — women scientists at the top of their fields.

... All four were in New York for the World Science Festival, and were invited to a 30-minute round-table discussion at The New York Times on Wednesday. They talked about their lives as scientists, the joys and struggles of research, and the specific challenges women in science face."

"A passion for science without barriers" Nature News interview with MIT's Nancy Hopkins by Adrianne Appel

"In 2005, Nancy Hopkins sparked a firestorm of controversy by walking out during a presentation by Larry Summers, then-president of Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He had suggested that innate differences might account for the lack of women in high-achieving roles in science, and Hopkins, a well-known champion of gender equality in science, wanted to register her outrage. This May, the biologist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge, whose career has mirrored the growth and diversity of molecular genetics, will retire from laboratory research and from most public speaking on women and science."

"Want More Money? 5 Tips To Really Negotiate a Higher Salary," by Meghan M. Biro,

'Negotiating salary is, for most of us, as difficult as getting past phone screens and interviews to the job offer. It can be tough to think of yourself in dollar terms. If you’re not prepared to negotiate, you’re sure to be unhappy with almost any offer. So don’t be caught flat-footed.'

"Survival Analysis of Faculty Retention in Science and Engineering by Gender," by Deborah Kaminski and Cheryl GeislerScience335, 864

Useful information for people considering careers in academia. Publicly available university catalogs of bulletins were analyzed. "Results of survival analysis showed that the chance that any given faculty member will be retained over time is less than 50%; the median time to departure is 10.9 years. Of all those who enter as assistant professors, 64.2% were promoted to associate professor at the same institution." No statistical difference between retention of promotion of men and women was found, except in mathematics.

"Solutions to Recruit Technical Women," a report (PDF) from the Anita Borg Institute

This report is aimed at technology companies, but maybe there are lessons here for universities, too. Steps, recommended on the basis of research, include: write broad, gender-free job descriptions; use a broad, diverse recruitment pool; consider removing gender information from resumes for the initial screening; and upgrade the organization's dual-career and family-friendly policies.

This resource is now on our new diversity page as well.

Resources for job seekers from Astrobetter; also see "Career" on the Wiki Home Page

Academic Keys - a career resource for academics

Has a specialized newsletter providing physics and astronomy job announcements

The Professor Is In

Cultural anthropologist Dr. Karen Kelsky offers helpful blog posts, by guest bloggers as well as herself, on various academic career topics, including mentoring and work-life balance.

Women in STEM, Women in Numbers "All about women in science and economy", Curated by Cage-free Science, and Women and Science, curated by MyScienceWork

Useful compilations of news articles about women in STEM.

Career Resources - BioSpace

Numerous articles by head hunters, resume writers, and other professionals with advice for how to look for, obtain, and keep a job. Includes a diversity section with advice for women, minorities, and older professionals. Geared to the biotech industry, but much of the advice is readily generalized. Individual articles of relevance are referenced in our resource pages on specific topics.

"Talking About Affirmative Action," by the Center for Research on Learning and Teaching, June 15, 2012

'The Center for Research on Learning and Teaching, at the University of Michigan developed the following guidelines to help instructors with classroom discussions about affirmative action. The guidelines are reprinted here courtesy of the center.'

While you might think that the topic of affirmative action is not likely to come up in an astronomy class, other difficult topics sometimes do. This article provides useful strategies for handling difficult topics in class and for leading classroom discussions in general. Or how about faculty meetings?

Training Resources from the Aspire project at the Society of Women Engineers

In the following, substitute "science" or "astronomy" for "engineering":

'Everyone representing the field of engineering to girls should be armed with the following.

  1. A reference for public communications
  2. A consistent message
  3. A clarity about what sets engineering apart from other professions
  4. An understanding of why engineering matters
  5. Tips and techniques for doing this well.'

Motherhood, the Elephant in the Laboratory: Women Scientists Speak Out, Emily Monosson, Editor: a blog organized around this book

This site has many blog posts on the theme of combining motherhood with a career in science. It crosses over between the work-life balance and the career break pages of this web site.

"Sex & vision I: Spatio-temporal resolution," by Israel Abramov, James Gordon, Olga Feldman, and Alla Chavarga, in Biology of Sex Differences 2012, 3:20 Published: 4 September 2012 [open access article]

'Cerebral cortex has a very large number of testosterone receptors, which could be a basis for sex differences in sensory functions. For example, audition has clear sex differences, which are related to serum testosterone levels. ... We tested large groups of young adults with normal vision. They were screened with a battery of standard tests that examined acuity, color vision, and stereopsis. We sampled the visual system’s contrast-sensitivity function ... gratings with sinusoidal luminance profiles generated on a special-purpose computer screen; their contrast was also sinusoidally modulated in time ... Main effect: there was a significant (ANOVA) sex difference. Across the entire spatio-temporal domain, males were more sensitive, especially at higher spatial frequencies; similarly males had significantly better acuity at all temporal rates. ... As with other sensory systems, there are marked sex differences in vision.'

"Women in the Sciences," from Catalyst, posted June 28, 2012

Useful page of statistics on women in various fields of academic science around the world.

"Men are from Mars Earth, women are from Venus Earth," from EurekAlert, February 4, 2013

'For decades, popular writers have entertained readers with the premise that men and women are so psychologically dissimilar they could hail from entirely different planets. But a new study shows that it's time for the Mars/Venus theories about the sexes to come back to Earth.

'From empathy and sexuality to science inclination and extroversion, statistical analysis of 122 different characteristics involving 13,301 individuals shows that men and women, by and large, do not fall into different groups. In other words, no matter how strange and inscrutable your partner may seem, their gender is probably only a small part of the problem.

'"People think about the sexes as distinct categories," says Harry Reis, professor of psychology at the University of Rochester and a co-author on the study to be published in the February issue of the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. "'Boy or girl?' is the first question parents are asked about their newborn, and sex persists through life as the most pervasive characteristic used to distinguish categories among humans."

'But the handy dichotomy often falls apart under statistical scrutiny, says lead author Bobbi Carothers, who completed the study as part of her doctoral dissertation at Rochester ...'

"Fostering Success for Women in Science and Engineering," written for the Women in Science & Engineering Leadership Institute University of Wisconsin-Madison (WISELI) by Jennifer Sheridan, Eve Fine, and Jo Handelsman

Surveys issues confronting women faculty in science and engineering departments and those who work for their success and provides advice on what to do about them:

  • Subtle bias
  • Discrimination and harassment
  • Lack of role models and encouragement
  • Work-life balance

Women, Minorities, and Persons with Disabilities in Science and Engineering

This report 'provides statistical information about the participation of women, minorities, and persons with disabilities in science and engineering education and employment. A formal report, now in the form of a digest, is issued every 2 years.'

A digest, data tables, and additional resources are presented on this NSF web site.

Women in Math and Science Quiz, from the National Women's History Project

Part of a larger resource center, this page also includes other interesting quizzes. The same site also hosts National Women's History Month each March.

Long-time women's rights activist and expert on women's issues Bernice R. Sandler has an extensive list of resources and practical tips on many of the topics covered in these pages, including chilly classroom climates, sexual harassment, and mentoring.

"Having 'The Talk'," by Brenda Bethman and C. Shaun Longstreet, April 1, 2013, from Inside Higher Ed

'Anyone considering joining the alt-ac [alternative to academic] job market will eventually tell his or her academic colleagues that he or she might be jumping off the tenure-track train. Reactions to this can vary. When Shaun left his faculty position for a career in educational development, he experienced everything from a lot of gracious support, a little dismissive smugness, some benign confusion, and an occasional "Donald Sutherland at the end of Invasion of the Body Snatchers" screech. If you are alt-ac curious, we hope you will find the support you need.

'For graduate students this will often mean having "the talk" with their advisers. Now, there are several reasons why it is important to seek out your adviser’s support, even for an alt-ac career. ...'

"Women in Science: A Spectrum of Reflection," in The PostdocWay, An interactive guide for postdocs by postdocs

'Our objective was simple – ask our team to comment on the topic using literature references, compiled data and studies, and female role models in the workplace. The results were fascinating and yielded four unique perspectives, each highlighting a different set of obstacles. Our four all-star Ph.D. contributors, Neilia, Halina, Uyen, and Michelle, did an outstanding job tackling this question. The insightful contributions beautifully intertwine and build on underlying gender issues and stereotypes present in the scientific workplace and beyond. Amazingly, although each contribution was submitted independently from each individual, they transition seamlessly into one another building on unique themes and a perspectives. ... '

These thoughtful essays cover several of the topics on these pages, including work-life balance, unconscious bias, and choice of career trajectory.

The Versatile PhD

'The Versatile PhD mission is to help doctoral students identify and prepare for possible non-academic careers. We want them to be informed about academic employment realities, educated about non-academic career options, and supported towards a wide range of careers, so that in the end, they have choices. The key concept here is versatility: the ability to apply their skills and interests in a wide variety of positions and fields.

'Versatile PhD is two things: a free community, and a premium content subscription service. The free community is open to anyone, but completely confidential, and offers a rich support system for those possibly transitioning into non-academic careers, from grad students to postdocs to faculty.

Issues Affecting Women in STEM A repository of peer-reviewed research maintained by Sarah Rugheimer

'I once thought that due to the efforts of the past generation of women, the battle for equality was over. One day, sitting as a senior in Prof Jay Gamble's class at the University of Calgary, I said as much when he was giving his arguments as to why feminism is important today and benefits men as well as women. I said, "At least women are paid the same today." I'll never forget when he looked at me and said, "Oh, you think you'll get paid the same as a future physics professor? Check out the latest report on the earnings of female and male professors across the universities in Canada." This sentence changed my life and I started to check out the continuing bias facing women in science and in the workforce in general.'


'I am a full professor in a physical sciences field at a large research university. I am married and have a teenaged daughter. I have the greatest job in the world, but this will not stop me from noting some of the more puzzling and stressful aspects of my career as a science professor.'

This blog's posts frequently address issues covered in these resource pages.