"In graduate school, I was in an extremely hostile environment and miserable with no support from any of my research group... but the fact that if I quit, that would cut the number of women in the physics class by 50%, kept me struggling to survive." -- A respondent to Women Physicists Speak: the 2001 International Study of Women in Physics
For those working in physics it would come as little surprise that women are sorely underrepresented in the field. Two reports shed light on what professional women think about their chances in physics classes and careers.
At the global level, the survey Women Physicists Speak: The 2001 International Study of Women in Physics offers further glimpses into the challenges women physicists face, and the reasons they stayed in the field. The report compiled country-level data and anecdotal information of over 1000 women physicist from 55 countries. Highlights of the survey include:
A US report, Women in Physics (2000), found that in America, women tend to drop out of the field earlier than men. An increasingly large number of girls were first exposed to physics in high school, but with each step up the academic ladder, women´s participation in physics decreased. For example, more than two of five high school physics students in 1993 were girls, but women earned less than one-fifth of bachelor´s degrees in physics five years later. The report found it likely that women still experience subtle discrimination turning them away from physics.
Photo: Mirta Matijevic, Plant Breeding Unit, IAEA Seibersdorf Laboratories
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