There is a wide range of evidence available on the topic of Gender and STEM. We have selected some key resources that relate specifically to Physics and STEM, or particularly relevant examples. You can find these and more on the GenPORT Gender and Science Portal, an internet portal to gender and science resources.
Dark Matters: Metaphorical Black Holes that Affect Ethnic Underrepresentation in Engineering
Tull, Renetta & L Tull, Damon & S. Hester, Shawnisha & M. Johnson, Anthony
Orbits surrounding engineering departments can have negative effects on diverse scholars, and challenges related to broadening participation in engineering can be metaphorical black holes. As an example, inadequate mentoring can cause graduate students to leave engineering degree programs. However faculty mentoring can be influenced by cultures within departments or colleges, under the leadership of chairs and deans respectively. Problems that diverse graduate engineering students experience, and positions that faculty take regarding these experiences, can be described loosely using physics metaphors, e.g., dark matter, black holes, Massive Compact Halo Objects (MACHOs), Weakly Interacting Massive Particles (WIMPs), and event horizon. Dark matter doesn’t emit light and includes MACHOs and WIMPs. MACHOs in turn can consist of small stars, black holes, and brown dwarfs (objects ranging in size between the largest planet Jupiter and a small star.) Black holes are regions in outer space where the force of gravity is so strong that light is unable to escape. Some black holes are a result of dying stars. The event horizon is a boundary that marks the limits of a black hole, and nothing that enters a black hole can get out, or be observed from outside of the event horizon.
The Influence of Career Planning, Career Strategies and Organisational Conditions on Gender Disparities in the Career of Mathematicians and Physicists
A crucial finding of our research project is that more female mathematicians and physicists than their male counterparts follow a career plan – even if the level of agreement with career planning is altogether rather low. This gender disparity might give evidence of the positive effects of official attempts to support women in their career ambitions by offering mentoring programmes and suchlike. Such efforts have helped young women in particular realise that career planning can be of assistance to them when it comes to anticipating potential obstacles in their occupational advancement and finding solutions for (often gender-related) prob- lems early in the career.
The Fermi Paradox in STEM—Where Are the Women Leaders?
Heike E. Daldrup-Link
If you try to find a galaxy of female leaders in STEM to date, there is evidence to support the notion that our male leaders are officially alone—or nearly so. While many academic institutions now train close to 50 % female students, there is a major underrepresentation of qualified females in leadership roles. What causes this diversion? The answer is we are all responsible. As a society, we create black holes for our female stars. Science, technology, engineering, and medicine are still pretty much male domains.
Gender Differences in Physics 1: The Impact of a Self-Affirmation Intervention
Lauren E. Kost-Smith, Steven J. Pollock, Noah D. Finkelstein, Geoffrey L. Cohen, Tiffany A. Ito and Akira Miyake
Stereotype threat is, “the threat of being viewed through the lens of a negative stereotype, or the fear of doing something that would inadvertently confirm that stereotype”. This fear of confirming the stereotype can negatively impact members of a stereotyped group and result in worse performance. We have demonstrated that two simple, 15-minute writing exercises completed at the beginning of the semester can increase females’ performance (while not significantly hurting male performance) and can reduce the gender gap.
MENTORING for WOMEN in PHYSICS
The Supernova Foundation connects undergraduate women in STEM, particularly in Physics, to established female researchers around the world to receive mentoring.
Does Gender of Administrator Matter? National Study Explores U.S. University Administrators' Attitudes About Retaining Women Professors in STEM
Wendy M. Williams, Agrima Mahajan, Felix Thoemmes, Susan M. Barnett, Francoise Vermeylen, Brian M. Cash and Stephen J. Ceci
This study asks Do female administrators agree on which strategies are best, and do men see things differently? A survey was sent to provosts, deans, associate deans, and department chairs of STEM fields at 96 public and private research universities across the U.S. These administrators were asked to rate the quality and feasibility of each strategy; 474 provided data, of which 334 contained complete numerical data used in the analyses.
A summary of the key results of the survey revealed:
> There is a clear imbalance in the opinions of men and women as regards to the status of women in the COST Action NQO: 59% of women believe that they do not have equal opportunities to men with 14% of women believing this strongly. However, 56% of men believe there is no difference in opportunities.
> The issue felt to be by far the most important was motherhood: there was a broad agreement (67%) between men and women that mothers and other female carers experience disadvantages in their career. 36% of women felt this strongly.
> There was a broad opinion (37%) that women should be the key target group of any future COST Action NQO gender balance actions, closely followed (31%) by an opinion that outside parties such as schools and funding councils should be targeted. Only 17% felt that men should be targeted.
Physicists are increasingly faced with the "two-body problem," i.e. the difficulty of finding two professional jobs (possibly two physics jobs) in the same geographic location. This problem has a particularly acute impact on women, in part because 43% of married female physicists are married to other physicists, whereas only 6% of married male physicists have a physicist spouse. The fact that the density of available jobs for physicists is low in most places at any particular time means that the challenge of the dual job search can have a significant effect on a physicist's career. The two-body problem also poses a challenge for institutions that hire physicists, as it is increasingly likely that the top candidate in a search will have a spouse who is also seeking professional employment.
Double jeopardy in astronomy and planetary science: Women of color face greater risks of gendered and racial harassment
Kathryn B. H. Clancy,Katharine M. N. Lee,Erica M. Rodgers,Christina Richey
We conducted an internet-based survey of the workplace experiences of 474 astronomers and planetary scientists between 2011 and 2015 and found that the multiple marginality of women of colour means that they experience a higher frequency of inappropriate remarks, harassment, and assault in the astronomical and planetary science workplace. In this sample, in nearly every significant finding, women of colour experienced the highest rates of negative workplace experiences, including harassment and assault. Further, 40% of women of colour reported feeling unsafe in the workplace as a result of their gender or sex, and 28% of women of colour reported feeling unsafe as a result of their race. Finally, 18% of women of colour, and 12% of white women, skipped professional events because they did not feel safe attending, identifying a significant loss of career opportunities due to a hostile climate. Our results suggest that the astronomy and planetary science community needs to address the experiences of women of colour and white women as they move forward in their efforts to create an inclusive workplace for all scientists.
Meeting the Universe Half Way: Quantum Physics and the Entanglement of Matter and Meaning
ISBN (Link to Amazon): 978-0822339175
Karen Brad has a doctorate in theoretical particle physics. In this book she directs her inquiry into the nature of scientific practice, the purpose of which she says is to demonstrate and explain specific world phenomena. She focuses in particular on Bohr’s interpretations of Quantum Mechanics: the role of experimental apparatus and practices, and their effects on experimental outcomes; and examines the nature of measurement in a quantum world as opposed to the classical worldview. She argues that in the quantum world it is not possible to separate matter from the meaning constructed through scientific practice because concepts, laboratory manipulations, observational interventions, and other human practices involved in scientific inquiry into particular phenomena are part of the larger material configuration of the world. Therefore, we need to see humans as part of the ongoing reconfiguration of the world. Into these arguments she weaves-in explanations of how meanings of gender are constructed through social and techno-scientific practices, and points out that mainstream science has largely ignored crucial social factors such as gender, race, class, sexuality, ethnicity, religion, and nationality. At the same time, she says, feminist science studies have, by and large, underestimated the mutual constitution of the “social” and the “scientific”, whilst mainstream science studies scholars have tended to overlook the nature-culture dichotomy, which feminist and other social theorists say matters very much in understanding and explaining organization and behaviour of human groups.
Gender and Doctoral Physics Education: Are We Asking the Right Questions?
Allison J. Gonsalves
Physics provides an interesting discipline in which to study both the gendering of educational trajectories and professional identities in physics, and the production of gendered discourses in the discipline. Moreover, doctoral education warrants particular attention due to its close connection with subsequent professional participation and performance in the discipline, and is therefore seen as a crucial site for programming initiatives to retain women in the profession.
Project Juno: Advancing Gender Equality In Physics Careers In Higher Education In The UK
Marcella Bona Jennifer Dyer, Valerie Gibson, Angela Townsend
From 2003-2005, the Institute of Physics (IOP) ran a successful “Women in University Physics Departments Site Visit Scheme” to address the recommendations of the International+Perceptions of UK Research in Physics and Astronomy report (2000) that a special focus to attract and retain women in physics was needed from the very early stages onward. The site-visit scheme involved visiting 16 physics departments in the UK and Ireland to provide a constructive and broad assessment of their gender friendliness, producing a confidential report for each department and an overall report outlining best practice for the sector. As a result of the site-visit report, the IOP developed Project Juno, building on the best practice identified, to provide recognition and reward to physics departments that were making progress to address the under-representation of women at all levels in university physics.
The Juno Good Practice Checklist is a tool for departments to use in developing their applications for Practitioner status. It is designed to initiate honest discussion and reflection in order for departments to establish where they are in relation to the Juno principles. It could be a useful first task for the Juno committee, and the different perceptions of staff may provide an ideal starting point for discussion and provide initial ideas and evidence for the department to develop its Practitioner action plan. For maximum value, comments should be included to qualify, clarify and support the tick box response.
Exploring Quotas in Academia
Gerlind Wallon, Sandra Bendiscioli, and Michele S. Garfinkel, EMBO, Heidelberg
This report is a synthesis of literature on binding and voluntary quotas, interviews that were conducted with leaders in analyzing and implementing quotas, and the proceedings of the closed expert workshop.
The report offers no recommendations about the use of quotas. Rather, it summarizes the positive and negative aspects of the implementation of different types of quotas, and describes a range of conditions of implementation to assist decision-makers in formulating their choices. The potential benefits and real or perceived harms of the use of these quotas will vary depending on who would implement them, and the conditions under which they would be implemented.
Getting Women Into the Physics Leadership Structure Nationally and Internationally
Elvira S. Williams, Lilliam Alvarez Diaz, Katharine B. Gebbie, and Karimat El-Sayed
In 2002 300 physicists, 85% of them women, traveled from 65 different countries to meet in Paris at the First IUPAP International Conference on Women in Physics. It was noted that there is a dearth of women among physicists in positions of leadership worldwide. It was also noted that for women to feel equal partners with men in a technological society, they need to see women participating fully in various scientific endeavors, ranging from policy making to research. It was acknowledged that national differences would play a role in implementation—because of cultural, social, and political factors that have roles in the careers of women physicists. It was therefore advised that each society develop its own guidelines for enhancing the status of women in physics.
The Athena Survey of Science, Engineering and Technology (ASSET)
Equality Challenge Unit, UK
The Athena Survey of Science, Engineering and Technology (ASSET) is a national survey that seeks to examine academics’ experiences, expectations and perceptions of gender equality in science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medicine (STEMM) disciplines and in their HE institution. ECU’s annual statistical reports consistently show an underrepresentation of women among STEMM academics, particularly in disciplines such as engineering and physics departments. Moreover, gender differences in relation to recruitment, retention, promotion, pay and committee representation outcomes are commonly observed in the sector. In order to understand and measure progress toward gender equality, ASSET 2016 explored STEMM academics’ experiences, perceptions and expectations of working life, and examine whether these differ by gender and discipline. These results enable us to better identify where gender inequality may persist, and provide figures on which to base national benchmarks for the HE sector.
Three examples of systemic diversity interventions in academic settings are discussed to highlight the design specifications for interventions effective in promoting diversity in upward mobility systems. By optimizing decision making, mitigating bias, and engaging gatekeepers, each of the three interventions will improve promotion and advancement rates of nondominant group members and thus reduce the overrepresen- tation of White men at the top of the pyramid. In contrast to many other diversity interventions, the interventions described here do challenge and change existing merit assessment, performance evaluation, and reward allocation practices—and address the resistance that both dominant and nondominant organizational members may experi- ence when these practices are exposed. All three examples of the interventions provided share a distinctive action research characteristic, namely that researchers as experts work together with organizational members in creating organizational change and generating robust, actionable knowledge
Practical Guide to improving Gender Equality in Research Organisations
Author: Science Europe
Co-ordination: Science europe Working Group on Gender and diversity
This guide provides the backbone for the implementation of gender equality in different research funding and performing organisations across Europe. it starts by listing recommendations for the implementation of appropriate indicators, as well as for measures to avoid bias. It follows by providing further recommendations on how to implement an efficient system to monitor gender equality. Finally, it provides an overview of relevant grant management systems.
Her physics, his physics: Gender issues in Israeli advanced placement physics classes
Anat Zohar & David Sela
Gender gaps in physics in favour of boys are more prominent in Israel than in other countries. The main research question is to find out what gender issues are at play in Israeli advanced placement physics classes. Matriculation exam scores from approximately 400 high schools were analysed across 12 years. In addition, semi-constructed interviews were conducted with 50 advanced placement physics students (25 girls and 25 boys). In terms of participation, it was found that the ratio of girls to boys has been unchanged from 1988 to 2000 and is roughly 1:3. In terms of performance, it was found that the final matriculation scores of boys and girls are similar. However, breaking up the final scores into its two components - teachers' given grades and matriculation test scores - showed that boy's test scores are usually higher than girls' test scores, while girls' teachers' given grades are usually higher than boys'. Results from semi-constructed interviews pointed to two factors that are especially unfavourable to many girls: excessive competitiveness and lack of teaching for understanding. Girls' yearning for deep understanding is seen as a form of questing for connected knowledge. It is suggested that instructional methods that foster students' understanding while decreasing competitiveness in physics classes might contribute to girls' participation and performance in advanced physics classes while also supporting the learning of many boys.
Women’s and men’s career choices in astronomy and astrophysics
Rachel Ivie, Susan White, and Raymond Y. Chu
The astronomy community wishes to make every effort to retain young women in astronomy, so they commissioned a longitudinal study to be conducted that would pinpoint the factors that contribute to retention in general, with a focus on differences between women and men. The LSAGS follows a cohort of people who were graduate students in astronomy or astrophysics during 2006–07. The first survey was conducted during 2007–08 and the second during 2012–13. The analysis presented in this paper used a subset of the respondents, all of whom had Ph.D.s in astronomy, astrophysics, or a related field at the time of the second survey.
Gender equity issues in astronomy: facts, fiction, and what the adaptive optics community can do to close the gap
Céline d’Orgeville, François Rigaut, Sarah Maddison, Elena Masciadri
Gender equality in modern societies is a topic that never fails to raise passion and controversy, in spite of the large body of research material and studies currently available to inform the general public and scientists alike.
This paper brings the gender equity and equality discussion on the Adaptive Optics community doorstep. Its aim is three- fold: (1) Raising awareness about the gender gap in science and astronomy in general, and in Adaptive Optics in particular; (2) Providing a snapshot of real and/or perceived causes for the gender gap existing in science and engineering; and (3) Presenting a range of practical solutions which have been or are being implemented at various institutions in order to bridge this gap and increase female participation at all levels of the scientific enterprise.
The Improving Gender Balance (IGB) project was launched in 2014, as part of the Stimulating Physics Network, funded by the Department for Education. It worked with 20 schools in total and trialed school interventions separately that aimed to:
a) improve the confidence and resilience of girls
b) improve the experience of girls in the physics classroom
c) enable students and staff to understand and address the impact of unconscious bias and gender stereotyping
A second project, funded buy the Drayson Foundation, investigated the cumulative impact of these interventions. This report sets out the forms those interventions took, the results they gave and recommendations on how to improve gender balance in schools based on what was learned.
An investigation into the impact of question structure on the performance of first year physics undergraduate students at the University of Cambridge
Valerie Gibson, Lisa Jardine-Wright and Elizabeth Bateman
We describe a study of the impact of exam question structure on the performance of first year Natural Sciences physics undergraduates from the University of Cambridge. The results show conclusively that a student's performance improves when questions are scaffolded compared with university style questions. In a group of 77 female students we observe that the average exam mark increases by 13.4% for scaffolded questions, which corresponds to a 4.9 standard deviation effect. The equivalent observation for 236 male students is 9% (5.5 standard deviations). We also observe a correlation between exam performance and A2-level marks for UK students, and that students who receive their school education overseas, in a mixed gender environment, or at an independent school are more likely to receive a first class mark in the exam. These results suggest a mis-match between the problem-solving skills and assessment procedures between school and first year university and will provide key input into the future teaching and assessment of first year undergraduate physics students.
This case study of a typical U.S. particle physics experiment explores the issues of gender bias and how it affects the academic career advancement prospects of women in the field of physics beyond the postdoctoral level; we use public databases to study the career paths of the full cohort of 57 former postdoctoral researchers on the Run II Dzero experiment to examine if males and females were treated in a gender-blind fashion on the experiment.
The study finds that the female researchers were on average significantly more productive compared to their male peers, yet were allocated only 1/3 the amount of conference presentations based on their productivity. The study also finds that the dramatic gender bias in allocation of conference presentations appeared to have significant negative impact on the academic career advancement of the females.
Project Juno is an awards scheme that recognises and rewards physics departments, schools, institutes and groups that can demonstrate they have taken action to address the under-representation of women at all levels and are encouraging better working practices for all. Those engaged in Juno are offered support throughout their Juno journey, including free workshops and resources on best practice, tailored feedback on applications, formal and informal site visits and regular Juno updates.
There are three levels of award:
• Supporter: starts the Juno journey by endorsing the five Juno principles and making a commitment to work towards Practitioner and Champion status.
• Practitioner: robust qualitative and quantitative evidence is gathered and an initial action plan is developed, demonstrating how Champion status will be achieved.
• Champion: working towards embedding the five Juno principles throughout. Further evidence is gathered, a site visit is undertaken and an action plan demonstrates how the principles and further good practice will continue to be embedded.
Gender in Academia in Finland: Tensions between Policies and Gendering Processes in Physics Departments
Kristina Rolin and Jenny Vainio,2011
This article contributes to the growing literature on gender and physics by employing the concept of gendering processes to the study of physics departments in Finland.
Finland is an interesting national context for studying gender and physics because it enables one to juxtapose gendering processes in fairly well-established equality policies and physics departments, which have low female representation. Despite the gender equality plans, the construction of the ideal worker in physics departments in Finland is surprisingly similar to the construction of the ideal worker in other organizations in other national contexts, reflecting the masculine norm of full- time availability and mobility. We say “surprisingly” also because the culture of physics abounds with attempts to rationalize the norms of long working hours, international mobility, and masculine toughness by appealing to those features that are thought to be specific to physics as an academic field.
The equality plans identify issues that are relevant in light of our interview data such as work-life balance, international mobility, gender-based discrimination, and sexual harassment. In this way, they function as counter-forces to the gendering processes in physics departments. However, the equality plans do not fully succeed in capturing the underlying gendering processes that emerged in our interview data, such as the ideal worker that conforms to the norm of long working hours and the norm of international mobility. While the equality plans give advice about how to deal with discrimination and sexual harassment, they remain silent about the norm of masculinity that is manifested in interactions and mental constructs. The tensions explain why the equality plans have paradoxical and ambiguous outcomes for women. Instead of challenging the norms of long working hours and international mobility, the plans attempt to tackle the consequences that these norms have for women in academia, such as women’s difficulties in balancing work and family life. Thus, their message is ambiguous. The norms are perceived as problems, and at the same time, women are advised to cope with them.
The Global Survey of Physicists: A Collaborative Effort Illuminates the Situation of Women in Physics
American Institute of Physics, 2016
The results of the Global Survey of Physicists draw attention to the need to focus on factors other than representation when discussing the situation of women in physics. Previous studies of women in physics have mostly focused on the lack of women in the field. This study goes beyond the obvious shortage of women and shows that there are much deeper issues. For the first time, a multinational study was conducted with approximately 15,000 respondents from 130 countries, showing that problems for women in physics transcend national borders.
Prof Rolf Tarrach, President, European Universities Association (EUA)
"Once gender-fairness is achieved we will be able to turn to other, objectively more difficult issues, which, incidentally, might turn out to be easier to be handled in this new, less aggressive, more inclusive society”.
Nature put together a list of "Ten people who mattered this year" for 2016. Amongst them are two female physicists, Gabriella Gonzalez (who helped catch the first direct signs of long-sought gravitational waves) and Elena Long (paved the way for greater acceptance of minority groups) .
What does a physicist look like?
Institute of Physics, 2016
This booklet contains an infographic showing the results of the 2015 anonymous diversity survey of the UK and Ireland IOP membership. The survey asked questions related to age, ethnicity, disability, gender, sexuality, religion and belief as well as socioeconomic background. This valuable information enables us to gain insights into the profile of the diversity within the IOP membership and how we can continue our work to ensure equality of opportunity for everyone involved with physics.
Physical review physics education research - Gender in Physics special collection
Eric Brewe and Vashti Sawtelle (Eds), 2016
A special collection highlighting the current state of the field of physics education research as it relates to gender in physics.
Gender gaps and gendered action in a first-year physics laboratory
James Day, Jared B. Stang, N. G. Holmes, Dhaneesh Kumar, and D. A. Bonn, 2016
[This paper is part of the Focused Collection on Gender in Physics.] It is established that male students outperform female students on almost all commonly used physics concept inventories. However, there is significant variation in the factors that contribute to the gap, as well as the direction in which they influence it. It is presently unknown if such a gender gap exists on the relatively new Concise Data Processing Assessment (CDPA) and, therefore, whether gendered actions in the teaching lab might influence—or be influenced by—the gender gap. To begin to get an estimates of the gap, its predictors, and its correlates, we have measured performance on the CDPA at the pretest and post-test level. We have also made observations of how students in mixed-gender partnerships divide their time in the lab. We find a gender gap on the CDPA that persists from pre- to post-test and that is as big as, if not bigger than, similar reported gaps. We also observe compelling differences in how students divide their time in the lab. In mixed-gender pairs, male students tend to monopolize the computer, female and male students tend to share the equipment equally, and female students tend to spend more time on other activities that are not the equipment or computer, such as writing or speaking to peers. We also find no correlation between computer use, when students are presumably working with their data, and performance on the CDPA post-test. In parallel to our analysis, we scrutinize some of the more commonly used approaches to similar data. We argue in favor of more explicitly checking the assumptions associated with the statistical methods that are used and improved reporting and contextualization of effect sizes. Ultimately, we claim no evidence that female students are less capable of learning than their male peers, and we suggest caution when using gain measures to draw conclusions about differences in science classroom performance across gender.
Gender-Related Systematics in the NRAO and ALMA Proposal Review Processes
Carol J. Lonsdale, Frederic R. Schwab, Gareth Hunt, 2016
A study has been made of the evidence for gender-related systematics in the proposal review processes for the four facilities operated by NRAO: the Jansky Very Large Array (JVLA; hereafter VLA), the Very Long Baseline Array (VLBA), the Green Bank Telescope (GBT) and the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) in Chile which is operated by NRAO/AUI in partnership with the European Southern Observatory (ESO) and the National Astronomical Observatories of Japan (NAOJ), in cooperation with the Republic of Chile. A significant gender-related effect is found in the proposal rankings in favor of men over women in the ALMA Proposal Review Processes (PRP) for ALMA Cycles 2-4, with reliability of 99.998% that the underlying rank distributions for male and female PIs are not the same. The effect is largest and most significant for ALMA Cycle 3. A similar overall result is found for the other three NRAO telescopes over proposal Semesters 2012A-2017A, but with lower reliability level overall (98.3%), and with some reversals across semesters in the trend for better performance in the rankings for male PIs. The results align with similar studies recently completed for the HST (Reid 2014) and the ESO proposal review processes (Patat 2016). No correlations are found between the gender-related proposal ranking trends and the gender fractions on review panels. The HST and ESO proposal reviews have come to different conclusions from each other on the role of seniority on the gender-related proposal outcomes at those observatories. The currently available data for the ALMA and NRAO user base do not allow us to investigate the important question of the dependence on the gender-related trends of the seniority of the principal investigators.
Gender Systematics in Telescope Time Allocation at ESO
Ferdinando Patat, 2016
The results of a comprehensive statistical analysis of gender systematics in the time allocation process at European Southern Observatory (ESO) are presented. The sample on which the study is based includes more than 13000 Normal and Short proposals, submitted by about 3000 principal investigators (PI) over eight years. The genders of PIs, and of the panel members of the Observing Programmes Committee (OPC), were used, together with their career level, to analyse the grade distributions and the proposal success rates. Proposals submitted by female PIs show a significantly lower probability of being allocated time. The proposal success rates (defined as number of top ranked runs over requested runs) are 16.0±0.6% and 22.0±0.4% for females and males, respectively. To a significant extent the disparity is related to different input distributions in terms of career level. The seniority of male PIs is significantly higher than that of female PIs, with only 34% of the female PIs being professionally employed astronomers (compared to 53% for male PIs). A small, but statistically significant, gender-dependent behaviour is measured for the OPC referees: both genders show the same systematics, but they are larger for males than females. The PI female/male fraction is very close to 30/70; although far from parity, the fraction is higher than that observed, for instance, among IAU membership.
Gender bias found in recommendation letters, physicsworld.com reports
Physics World, 2016
Female postdoctoral fellowship applicants are half as likely as their male counterparts to receive glowing recommendation letters, according to a study by researchers at Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory (LDEO). Led by Kuheli Dutt, assistant director of academic affairs and diversity at the observatory, the researchers also found that both male and female scientists tend to write stronger recommendation letters for men than for women. The findings add more evidence of implicit, or unconscious, bias that women are perceived as weaker in the sciences than men. Read the full article.
Women in physics: A comparison to science, technology, engineering, and math education over four decades
Linda J. Sax, Kathleen J. Lehman, Ramón S. Barthelemy, and Gloria Lim, 2016
[This paper is part of the Focused Collection on Gender in Physics.] The dearth of women in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields has been lamented by scholars, administrators, policymakers, and the general public for decades, and the STEM gender gap is particularly pronounced in physics. While previous research has demonstrated that this gap is largely attributable to a lack of women pursuing physics in college, prior research reveals little in terms of the characteristics and career interests of women who do plan to major in physics or how these traits have evolved over time. To address these gaps, this study utilized nationwide data on first-time, full-time college students to (1) document national trends in plans to major in physics among women entering college, (2) document the career aspirations of women who intend to major in physics, and (3) explore the characteristics of women who intend to major in physics and how this population has evolved across time. This study found that women’s interest in physics has been consistently very low in the past four decades. The most popular career aspiration among women who plan to major in physics is research scientist, although this career aspiration is declining in popularity, while increasing numbers of women say that they are undecided in their career choice. Further, this study identifies a distinctive profile of the average female physics student as compared to women in other STEM fields and women across all majors. Women who plan to pursue a physics major tend to be confident in their math abilities, value college as an opportunity to learn, plan to attend graduate school, and desire to make theoretical contributions to science. However, they are less likely than women in other fields to have a social activist orientation. These findings have important implications for scholars, educators, administrators, and policymakers as they seek to recruit more women into the physics field
Studying Gender Bias in Physics Grading: The role of teaching experience and country
Sarah I. Hofer, 2015
The existence of gender-STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) stereotypes has been repeatedly documented. This article examines physics teachers ’ gender bias in grading and the influence of teaching experience in Switzerland, Austria, and Germany. In a 2 × 2 between-subjects design, with years of teaching experience included as moderating variable, physics teachers ( N = 780) from Switzerland, Austria, and Germany graded a fictive student’s answer to a physics test question. While the answer was exactly the same for each teacher, only the student’s gender and specialization in languages vs. science were manipulated. Specialization was included to gauge the relative strength of potential gender bias effects. Multiple group regression analyses, with the grade that was awarded as the dependent variable, revealed only partial cross-border generalizability of the effect pattern. While the overall results in fact indicated the existence of a consistent and clear gender bias against girls in the first part of physics teachers’ careers that disappeared with increasing teaching experience for Swiss teachers, Austrian teachers, and German female teachers, German male teachers showed no gender bias effects at all. The results are discussed regarding their relevance for educational practice and research.
Equal Opportunities and Diversity Management Plan. CERCA Institute April 2014
CERCA Institute, 2014
The CERCA Institute is the Government of Catalonia’s technical service and its means for supervising, supporting and facilitating the activities of the research centres in the CERCA system. Set up as a foundation, it was created in 2010 to respond to the commitments of the Catalan Agreement on Research and Innovation. This plan is an example which will be useful to other organisations when formulating their own Gender Equality Plan (GEP).
Number of Women in Physics Departments: A Simulation Analysis
S.White and R. Ivie, 2013
Women's representation in physics lags behind most other STEM disciplines. Currently women make up about 13% of faculty members in all degree-granting physics departments, and there are physics departments with no women faculty members at all. In this report, we consider whether or not the lack of a woman among its faculty is sufficient evidence of a hiring bias. Using simulation analysis, we find that the existence of all-male departments is largely due to the representation of women in physics and to the number of faculty members in a single department. Even if half of physics faculty members were women, we would still find over 100 departments with all male or all female faculty members. While counting the number of departments with no women is not a valid measure of equity, we do not mean to provide a convenient explanation for departments that have no women. Instead, the issue of equity in physics is more complex and nuanced and should not be distilled into any single measure.
Women in Science: Physics and Optics
M. J. Yzuel and A. Peinado, 2013
The number of women is less than the number of men in degrees like physics and engineering. In this paper we present the percentages of female students at the Spanish Universities. The percentage of women decreases for faculty members. We also give some figures for female students in physics degree. The value of mentoring programs is analyzed. The learning societies in physics and in optics have established committees and programs for helping the women in their scientific career. We describe them in general and we focus on the SPIE Women in Optics program.
It's different for girls: the influence of schools
Insitute of Physics, UK, 2012
An exploration of data from the National Pupil Database looking at progression to A-level physics in 2011 from different types of school at Key Stage 4.
Looking at High Energy Physics from a Gender Studies Perspective
H. Götschel, 2011
Presentation at CERN Special Science and Society Colloquium Geneva 2011-03-08 covering
I. Entanglement of Gender and Physics
II. Gender Studies and High Energy Physics – Research Results and Examples
III. Summary and Prospects
Mapping the Future Physics and Chemistry Postdoctoral Researchers’ Experiences and Career Intentions
The Institute of Physics (IOP) and the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC), 2011
The Institute of Physics (IOP) and the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) jointly initiated a project, in conjunction with the IOP’s Women in Physics Group (WiPG), which was part-funded by the UKRC’s Innovative and Collaborative Grants Scheme (IGCS), to investigate the experiences of postdoctoral researchers (PDRs). The project was designed to build upon previous work by the RSC on the experiences and career intentions of chemistryPhD students, which found that the proportion of females planning a research career in chemistry fell dramatically during the course of their PhD studies, while the proportion of males stayed the same. In contrast, follow-up work by the RSC and the Biochemical Society showed that in molecular biosciences the proportions of men and women intending to pursue a research career remained essentially the same throughout their PhD studies. To investigate how the experiences of male and female postdoctoral physics and chemistry researchers affected their long-term career intentions and whether their experiences were different, the IOP and the RSC, with WiPG, initiated a survey of PDRs in the two disciplines. An electronic survey was distributed to UK chemistry and physics departments and a total of 776 responses (370 physics, 376 chemistry and 30 unspecified) were received. A detailed analysis of the survey data, which was carried out by Sean McWhinnie of Oxford Research and Policy, has been produced in a full report and is available at www.iop.org/diversity and www.rsc.org. This summary report highlights the key findings and recommendations.
Gender Diversity in Play With Physics: The Problem of Premises for Participation in Activities
Cathrine Hasse, 2009
The lack of women engaging themselves in science has been thoroughly discussed in feminist and nonfeminist science studies. It has remained a mystery why so few female students take professional careers as scientists. Though more and more female students enroll in physics studies, for example, they seem to disappear before they reach academic positions. Instead of discussing this as a query of gender inequality in this article, I discuss the more general issues of inclusion and exclusion in communities of practices. I argue that selection mechanisms in a group of students can be connected to their premises for engaging themselves in an activity. As students have different embodied experiences, they also have different premises for engaging themselves. What seems like the same practice can, in fact, be analyzed as practices belonging to different activities. This approach might bring us a small step further in the discussions of the relations between gender and science.
GENDER EQUITY: Strengthening the Physics Enterprise in Universities and Laboratories
American Physical Society, 2007
Maintaining a strong workforce in the physical sciences is of critical importance to the national economy, health care, defense, and domestic security. Increasing the participation of women in these sciences can strengthen that workforce by widening the available pool of talent. Despite the quite considerable increase in the number of female physics faculty over the past three decades, women still represent only 13% of faculty of all ranks from the 760 degree-granting physics departments in the United States and only 9.5% across all ranks at the major research universities. By contrast, all other disciplines measured except mechanical engineering are doing better than physics. If the nation is to enjoy the benefits of further significant increases in the participation of women in the physical sciences, the representation of women on the faculties of research universities must be increased. These women faculty play a critical role in the encouragement of women students.
What Works for Women in Undergraduate Physics?
Barbara L. Whitten, Suzanne R. Foster, and Margaret L. Duncombe, 2003
The predominance of men in physics remains a puzzle. To attract talented women and minorities, the culture of college physics needs a makeover.
Women in Physics in Italy: The Leaky Pipeline
E.Molinari, M. G. Betti, A. Bonfiglio, A. G. Mignani, M. L. Paciello, 2002
Italy is often considered a fortunate country for women in physics. Indeed, the number of women among students in higher education and in the early stages of careers is relatively high, certainly much higher than in most other countries worldwide. However, the percentage of women among physicists decreases very rapidly with increasing level in the profession; also, the presence of women in positions of power is generally negligible. Undergraduate courses in physics in Italy are now well attended by women, who are generally very successful in their studies. In this report we summarize some representative data and discuss briefly some possible explanations and the proposed focus for future actions.
The Future of Physics and Society
UNESCO/ICSU World Conference on Science (WCS),1999
The present Workshop was supported by the UNESCO–Physics Action Council, the European Physical Society, OMFB, OTKA, MTA and MALÉV. It affirmed the ongoing importance of physics for its own sake and as part of our culture, as a key element in increasingly unified science and as an essential contributor to the solution of environmental and energy problems. The problems faced by physics as an activity and as an educational subject were discussed and actions for both society as a whole and the physics community itself were put forward.
A principal function of the Workshop was to submit a report making recommendations to the UNESCO/ICSU World Conference on Science (WCS), to be held in Budapest, June, 1999. Nevertheless, a great many important points were raised which are addressed to the international physics community rather than to the WCS.
Factors that affect the physical science career interest of female students: Testing five common hypotheses
J. A. Marshall, 1997
Student attitudes toward science and scientists were measured with a survey distributed to introductory physics students in a combined class consisting of elementary education majors and general education students. For the control group of students, only the biographical material in the textbook (which was not required reading) was available to students. Brief biographical materials on women scientists were presented to the experimental group of students, and, although this material was not tested on homework or exam questions, it changed student knowledge of women scientists, and also student perceptions of scientists.