Challenges and opportunities for women in physics

What challenges do women face in this field of science and what can they do to overcome them?

Woman writing equations on a board.

Scientists are committed to including women while they are in the process of education. / Photo: Pexels

EurekAlert | American Physical Society

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Leer en español: Desafíos y oportunidades para las mujeres en la física

Women in the United States hold fewer than 25% of bachelor's degrees, 20% of doctoral degrees and 19% of faculty positions in physics. At the American Physical Society March Meeting in Denver, scientists will present unique approaches to engage women in science as they pursue their education and throughout every stage of their careers.

"To improve the climate for women in physics, we need to better understand the structural and social barriers women experience in the field," said Anne Marie Porter, survey scientist at the American Institute of Physics' Statistical Research Center. "The physics community should continue addressing these issues to improve conditions for women in the field."

Porter will present data from several surveys to explore the factors that hinder women in their physics careers. She will discuss the hurdles many women face compared to their male counterparts. Porter believes these findings could be used to improve the experience of women in physics to keep bright minds engaged in the field and continue advances within the physics community.

Women Supporting Women

Programs to empower women in STEM both at secondary- and undergraduate-levels aim to open educational pathways and promote career advancement. Jill Wenderott, a postdoctoral researcher in materials science and engineering at Northwestern University, will present the latest outcomes from the Women Supporting Women in the Sciences (WS2) program. WS2 provides professional development workshops that empower Tanzanian women to advance in STEM careers. Wenderott will discuss how the international group created the workshops virtually before training facilitators and the anticipated outcomes and long-term goals of the program.

Also read: Highlighting women's achievements makes them want to be the boss

"By sharing resources [and] connecting with organizations and individuals that can support your mission, your outreach goals can become a reality," said Wenderott. "From creating programming to inspire young girls and boys to choose STEM careers to hosting a lecture series for the public, there are many opportunities to make a difference in your community, be it locally or globally."

The Physics Wonder Girls Program provides a free, immersion summer camp for diverse, high-performing female students in Philadelphia and New Jersey. Roberto Ramos of University of the Sciences will present about the most recent camp experience, where participants learned about solar and wind energy during the Physics Outreach, Education and Society session on March 4. Ramos details how the students built solar cells that power boats and cars and examined model turbines, digital anemometers and a commercial turbine to understand the power of wind as a natural energy resource. Learn more about the program at the Physics Wonder Girls website:


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