CfAlogo CfA Women in Science

  • This is an informal group of women scientists and graduate students at CfA who meet more or less monthly to discuss topics of mutual interest. These topics might include career paths, work-family issues, research problems, parenting, politics, rewards, salaries, advisors, mentors, promotions, policies ... etc. - whatever the group wants to bring up.
  • To communicate with this group, email cfawis@cfa

  • WIS-Chats, located here!

Current Meetings and Links

  • Friday, February 20, 2015, Phillips Auditorium, 12:30 pm: Career Opportunities for STEM Trained Postdocs

    Professor Cherry Murray, Former Dean of Harvard's School of Science, Engineering, and Applied Science

  • Tuesday, February 10, 2015, Phillips Auditorium, 9:00 am - Noon: "The Performing Art of Science Presentation" Nancy Houfek, former Head of Voice and Speech for the ART at Harvard.

    Scientists are often so deep into their research they might forget to translate their content when speaking to audiences both inside and outside of their areas. This workshop offers specific skills from the theatre to become a more engaging and memorable speaker, whether at a professional conference, public event, job talk or in the classroom. With a focus on clarifying the message, topics also include connection to audience; body language, gesture and movement; purpose and passion; structure and timing; PowerPoint use; managing stage fright; voice, speech and articulation; and how to include stories and metaphors to illuminate complex or important ideas. The goal is to become more clear, compelling and memorable, getting your research to come to life and your ideas to stick.

    Nancy Houfek was Head of Voice and Speech for American Repertory Theater at Harvard from 1997 to 2014, teaching vocal production, coaching the professional acting company, and administering the M.F.A. program in voice training pedagogy. You can find more details on her web page:

  • Monday, November 10, 2014, Phillips Auditorium, Noon: "Career Overview"
    After graduate school, a lot of new challenges come along. We have invited three women at CfA who can tell us about shifts of time and energy, new skills, opportunities - and strategies:
    Christine Jones: Leading the CHANDRA calibration team
    Nancy Brickhouse: Overview of CfA Science
    Andrea Dupree: Challenges for the AAS President

    The discussion will be led by Nancy Evans.

  • Thursday, Sept. 18, 2014, Pratt Conference Room, 12:30 pm:"The Confidence Code" Kelly Korreck (CfA) will lead a discussion of the new book The Confidence Code: the Science and Art of Self-Assurance -- What Women Should Know by Katty Kay and Clair Shipman. We have a short video made when one of the authors spoke at Smithsonian about the book. Amazon notes: Working women today are better educated and more well qualified than ever before. Yet men still predominate in the corporate world. In The Confidence Code, Claire Shipman and Katty Kay argue that the key reason is confidence. Combining cutting-edge research in genetics, gender, behavior, and cognition—with examples from their own lives and those of other successful women in politics, media, and business—Kay and Shipman go beyond admonishing women to "lean in." Instead, they offer the inspiration and practical advice women need to close the gap and achieve the careers they want and deserve.

  • Friday, June 27, 2014, Pratt Conference Room, 12:30 pm:"Why So Few? Growth Mindset, Stereotype Threat, and Spatial Skills," Prof. Joan Schmelz, Chair, AAS Committee on the Status of Women in Astronomy (CSWA); Program Officer, NSF Astronomy; and Professor, Department of Physics, University of Memphis. All are welcome.

    Abstract: One of my favorite references is the AAUW report entitled, Why So Few? Women in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. I learned so much the first time I read it and have returned to it time and again for details, references, and statistics. This report summarizes studies showing that girls' achievements and interests in math and science continue to be shaped by social and environmental factors. The reasons that there are so few of us are NOT related to innate gender differences! I plan to talk about three of my favorite topics from this report: (1) Growth Mindset, the idea that believing in the potential for intellectual growth, in and of itself, improves outcomes; (2) Stereotype Threat, the anxiety women face in a situation where they have the potential to confirm a negative stereotype about women as a group; and (3) Spatial Skills, a test with one of the largest and most persistent gender gaps, where boys consistently outperform girls.

    The full report can be accessed here, a site that also includes downloadable powerpoint presentations.

    Joan's power point presentation can be accessed here.. During the discussion, other references proved valuable. Here are links to: International comparisons of math and reading achievement, a link to Studies of stereotype threat, and a copy of the New York Times article from May 15, 2014 on the experiences at the University of Texas at Austin developing programs to retain students.

  • Wednesday, April 30, 2014, Room: M340 NOON: From Passion to Action Stephanie Sonnabend, Co-founder and Chair of 2020 Women on Boards, (see will give a seminar discussing a six step process to create a personal strategic plan to advance your career. Her bio can be found linked here!

  • Tuesday, March 11, 2014, Room B-105 (note change of room) 12:30 pm - 1:30 pm: The CSWA Demographics Survey: Portrait of a Generation of Women in Astronomy, Meredith Hughes, Assistant Professor of Astronomy, Wesleyan University

  • Thursday, February 6, 2014, Pratt Conference Room 12:30 pm: Improving Departmental Climate for Women and for Everyone Professor Ed Bertschinger, Chair MIT Department of Physics, Community and Equity Officer at MIT

    I will describe the new CSWA Climate Site Visit program (with the hope that CfA will be an early participant), along with some initiatives we're undertaking at MIT. One of the most useful diagnostic tools I've found is the Wisconsin Climate Brochure, which is attached here. It would be useful to read it before the Thursday lunch. I'm happy for any special requests, too - my perspectives have been broadened through my new role as Community and Equity Officer for all MIT.

  • Programs for 2008-2013 can be found here.

  • Programs for 2007-2008 (Semester 1 and 2) can be found here.

  • Programs for 2006-2007 (Semester 1 and 2) can be found here.

  • Programs for 2005 can be found here.

  • Last modified on 21 January 2015.
    Comments or Questions? Contact dupree@cfa