Denver AAS – Day 4

Posted by barb on Jun 3, 2004 in Random Thoughts |

This is the first day that I actually went to talks.

The first talk was by a sociologist, Elaine Seymour, entitled Hidden Losses. Her group is looking at factors that influence whether or not a woman entering the sciences actually makes it to a tenure-track position. One of her main points was that the women who make it to a tenure-track position are those who maintained a straight trajectory. Those who don’t make it have been derailed for one reason or another (starting a family, family illness or death, lack of sufficient support, etc.) I fall into the latter group — I was derailed because I couldn’t handle the lack of financial support (at least that was the biggest factor). I look forward to seeing the final paper that comes from her group’s research.

The other session I went to was a panel discussion on the status of women in astronomy.

I find that I feel more depressed about the state of women in astronomy the more I go to talks. In my day-to-day life, I see plenty of women working in astronomy. However, I found out that even my advisor is fairly sure that the only reason she got her current position is because the center was required to hire a womam. This makes me happier that I’ve chosen to get out. There is a part of me that feels guilty for “letting down” future generations of women by not persuing the tenure-track. However, I know that I wouldn’t be happy forcing myself down that track. Plus, the direction that I would like to move my carreer is important and there are few people willing to do it.

The conference wrapped up at 4PM, and we started pulling down the booths. It was nice of the Colorado Conference Center to turn down the lights to a “twilight level” before they had even delivered our boxes to pack up the big monitor and stand. Yeah. That will make us get it done faster — in the dark.

Walked around 16th street and grabbed dinner afterwards, then called Andrew and packed in the evening.

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