Personnel News: January 2016 Archives

RD Promotion Process Survey (Jan 2016), LaRC Survey at Surveymonkey

"The RD Promotion Process Team is evaluating the efficiency and transparency of the promotion process for AST's and technicians in RD. The top-level goals of this team are to evaluate and recommend improvements to the RD promotion process that will improve the efficiency and transparency of these processes for all AST's and technicians in RD."

Keith's 1 Feb update: The survey has suddenly closed. Oops.

OPM Status

"Applies to: Applies to: Tuesday, January 26, 2016 FEDERAL OFFICES in the Washington, DC area are CLOSED. Emergency and telework-ready employees required to work must follow their agency's policies, including written telework agreements."

Snow Covered Washington DC Metro Area Seen From Space

"The Operational Land Imager (OLI) on Landsat 8 captured this natural-color image of Virginia, Maryland, and Washington, D.C. on January 24, 2016."

NASA Administrator Communicates Harassment Policies to Grantees (link fixed)

"The following is a letter from NASA Administrator Charles Bolden to grantee institutions running NASA-funded programs regarding harassment policies: As a leader in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), NASA endeavors to make our collaborations with our grant recipient institutions as productive and successful as possible in all facets of our shared objectives. This means that we seek not only the most innovative and cutting-edge scientific and technological research from our grant recipients, we also expect strong efforts to create and sustain welcoming and inclusive educational environments. We view such efforts not as "something nice to do" if the time can be spared, or something that human resources or the diversity and equity offices are responsible for, but rather as an integral and indeed necessary aspect of all educational program environments. Let me be perfectly clear: NASA does not tolerate sexual harassment, and nor should any organization seriously committed to workplace equality, diversity and inclusion. Science is for everyone and any behavior that demeans or discourages people from fully participating is unacceptable."

Dava Newman: NASA Communicates Harassment Policies to Grantees

Keith's 15 Jan 5:00 pm note: Kudos to Charlie Bolden for making a very public and unequivocal stance on this issue. No one will ever doubt NASA's stance on this issue. In fact Bolden may have just set a new, higher standard in this regard.

Keith's 15 Jan 1:35 pm note: The issue of sexual harassment in space science and astronomy has taken on a life of its own in traditional and social media. The hashtag #astroSH for these discussions has been trending nationally on Twitter. This has attracted a number of women who have opened up about experiences they had to endure while trying to pursue a career - thus inspiring others to comment as well.

As with anything that gets popular in social media there are now fake Twitter accounts popping up behind which people hide and snipe on #astroSH conversations. Other fake accounts use the hashtag as part of so-called spambot marketing schemes. Yet the core focus of #astroSH continues to grow. And of course #astroSH is a subset of much larger issue of harassment in research and the workplace.

NASA funds a substantial portion of the astronomy and space science research that forms the core of this community's activity. While these specific harassment cases are indeed internal issues within specific non-NASA institutions, NASA does have an unequivocal moral stake in the way that these cases are handled - as well as pushing to make such behavior unwelcome in the first place. Yes, NASA like all other government agencies has a list of formal policies on this matter. However having these policies does not seem to have stifled this behavior. But NASA does have people at its helm - specifically NASA Administrator Bolden, Deputy Administrator Newman, and Chief Scientist Stofan, who could use their prominence to speak out on this issue. So far we've heard nothing but silence. One would hope that will change soon.

Caltech suspends professor for harassment, Science

"For what is believed to be the first time in its history, the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) in Pasadena has suspended a faculty member for gender-based harassment. The researcher has been stripped of his university salary and barred from campus for 1 year, is undergoing personalized coaching to become a better mentor, and will need to prove that he has been rehabilitated before he can resume advising students without supervision. Caltech has not curtailed his research activities. The university has not disclosed the name of the faculty member, but Science has learned that it is Christian Ott, a professor of theoretical astrophysics who studies gravitational waves and other signals from some of the most violent events in the cosmos."

Memo from Caltech leadership Regarding Faculty Harassment/Discrimination Issues, Caltech

Congresswoman reveals prominent astronomy professor's history of sexual harassment, Mashable

"A U.S. congresswoman is calling out a leading astronomy educator who violated the sexual harassment policy at the University of Arizona, saying the case highlights a larger problem of holding known offenders accountable in higher education."

Astronomy roiled again by sexual-harassment allegations, Nature

"The new revelations confirm that harassment is a widespread problem in science with only some of the instances now coming to light, says Joan Schmelz, an astronomer at Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico and longtime advocate for women in astronomy. "You can't just sweep this stuff under the rug, declare it confidential and hope that no one ever knows about it," she says."

What astronomy can do about sexual harassment, Meg Urry/AAS, CNN

"Last week, at its annual winter conference, the American Astronomical Society held a well-attended plenary session to address harassment and next steps. To an outsider, the many articles about the incident might make astronomy seem like a bad place for women. But having worked in physics and astronomy for some 40 years, I see this bad news about astronomy as really good news."

- Stopping Sexual Harassment In The Space Science Community (Update), earlier post
- Dealing With Harassment at American Astronomical Society, earlier post
- Harassment Hypocrisy from the AAS Membership, earlier post


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This page is an archive of entries in the Personnel News category from January 2016.

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