Meeting for women physics undergrads

By Phil Plait | August 16, 2009 12:10 pm

Women in Physics meeting poster

This is cool: a meeting at the University of Nebraska – Lincoln for outstanding women undergraduates in physics. I like this idea; it’s not too much after this part of the career path that we start to see an attrition of women in the sciences, so something that fosters their enthusiasm and encourages young women is something I like seeing.

I gave a talk and participated in a teacher workshop at UNL a couple of years ago and had a great time; it’s a nice town and a good group of folks there. If you’re a female physics major (or know one you should tell) this looks like a great opportunity to meet others. Registration is open now and the meeting starts October 30.

And if you don’t think this kind of thing is important, I urge you to read this wonderful post over at Cocktail Party Physics. Yes, this kind of thing is important.

Tip o’ the lab coat to Michael Kingsley.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Science

Comments (54)

  1. I hope that one day my daughter will go to a conference like this (although at the same time I also hope that there is no actual need for them, in that the obstacles women face are eliminated, but that’s being too optimistic I think).

  2. Supernova

    Whoo-hoo! I will be there with four fantastic students!

  3. Greg

    In my opinion the whole culture of physics in the U.S. needs to be changed. It is still too stuck in the 19th century with its rigid class structure and all that goes along with it (including the astounding lack of woman in leadership areas). The physics culture rewards rote memorization and a slavish devotion to superiors. It would do better to reward curiosity, innovation, and creativity. Physics is doing a disservice to itself and to humanity in general. It is only an elite few who somehow survive their education with their wonder intact that drive the science today. Most everyone else either bails out or ends up working as engineers. We could be doing so much better…

  4. Brendan

    I want to plug a wonderful Women in Physics conference that is held at University of Southern California every January.

    http://physics.usc.edu/~wiphys/conference/

    They just had their 4th annual conference and I wish them many more years of success.

  5. Oded

    I think the most powerful statement I heard on this subject was a quote by Neil deGrasse Tyson saying how he choosing Astronomy was the path of most resistance for him and constantly other people trying to push him away from that pursuit.

    I was totally shocked by this. I can’t believe that there are actual forces bothering people from choosing their prefered careers based on their gender or race. Either I am completely blind to it, or it is a very small or non existent effect in Israel. I’m not sure.

    Edit: this where Tyson’s quote is – http://richarddawkins.net/article,4087,n,n

  6. Roen

    When I was half my age I never even had the opportunity. Back then the price tag for a semester at the U of Calgary was enormous, scholarships were rare also. I do not expect that this has changed for the better. The rich are still the only ones who are free.

    But it is nice to see some women making headway.

  7. Brian

    Thanks for the link to the Cocktail Party Physics article. It’s so interesting hearing other people’s experience with math, very different than mine. (And a happy ending is always nice.)

  8. Bigfoot

    Hmmmm. A gathering of highly intelligent science-dedicated young women — sounds like the guys are the ones that are missing the opportunity this time, if you know what I mean …

    And hear I am stuck in the land of women who think homeopathy and life-energy healing are the cure for everything (there are exceptions, but they seem to be dissappointingly rare). We have a naturopathic “medical” university here, and most folks in these parts can’t get enough of it. When do they realize that they are just practicing a different kind of religion?

    It’s enough to make me wanna hide behind a mythical pseudonym!

  9. Roen
  10. PeteC

    When I was at university (Imperial College of Science and Technology, London) studying physics we had a ratio of about 8:1 male to female students.

    It’s a circular issue, I think – science is presented to women as a dorky male thing you don’t want to be associated with, so few women go into science, so it remains the province of the male, round and round and round. It’s a real pity – I will certainly encourage my daughters (1 3 year old and 2 more on the way) to take interest in science, even if they don’t take it beyond school.

    In my class, probably the brightest single student was a woman. I googled her name out of curiousity recently, and it appears that her name is now on papers like “Dirac Born Infeld (DBI) Cosmic Strings”, “Brane cosmology with an anisotropic bulk”, and “Strings after D-term inflation: evolution and properties of chiral cosmic strings”. It doesn’t suprise me at all. Oh, and just to puncture “plain nerd girl” stereotypes, she was also extremely cute. Oh, and a decent musician as well.

  11. Good for UNL and other schools making similar efforts. I’m all for it!

  12. We don’t have a physics major program. We’re too little a school (there are two physics professors total). We do have a handful of minors, and this would be a lot of fun.

  13. Pete

    I’m just glad the woman in the poster is not wearing the media-required “geek girl glasses”

  14. Cusp

    I hope nobody reads the title of the meeting as

    “Meeting women for physics undergrads”

  15. Bigfoot said:

    Hmmmm. A gathering of highly intelligent science-dedicated young women — sounds like the guys are the ones that are missing the opportunity this time, if you know what I mean …

    And, I know you meant this as a funny, but it sort of seems to assume that a women’s gathering is somehow a place for guys to go trolling for sex or something… when, in fact, it’s a meeting of women who are interested in physics (not inadvertent physicals from guys). The women aren’t going to this meeting to be “on display” for men. They’re going to talk about physics.

    It just always seems to get assumed that wherever women gather, it’s an opportunity for men… why can’t it be seen as an opportunity for women and leave it at that?

    Would a meeting of men in physics just be assumed to be a “trolling ground” for women to look for guys? Would anybody even think to make that joke about a men’s meeting?

  16. And in less than ten posts, there’s lamenting that this is a missed dating opportunity, if you know what I mean.

  17. Yup. Nice work there, Bigfoot.

    The worst part? As I wrote this post, I wondered how long it would take. I wondered how to write the post to minimize the chance of it. I wondered if the title would be misread, as Cusp (#14) points out.

    It’s an aspect of sexism I hadn’t really thought about until recently: how the existence of it at all greases the skids of self-censorship.

    I shouldn’t have to worry how to phrase things to minimize potential offensiveness (note how this is different than writing something that is in and of itself offensive).

    Nuts.

  18. CWorthington

    ooo :( I am in TX. Pity, but I am going back to school this fall for a physics B.S. and hopefully on to an M.S. Then again, I am unusual in this regard as I have been in the sciences for many years. While I was growing up, there were all sorts of events for people (not just females) to encourage involvement. Expanding Your Horizons is still being held, as far as I know. It was too many years ago to remember them all, however. One frustrating obstacle I encountered and continue to encounter is the lack of scholarships and other funding options for certain sciences. I received a B.S. and an M.S. in Biology and found very little in the way of scholarships available. I think physics has more options but it would be nice to see just as many options available for the sciences as for those who go for business or history. Alas, I will be building up my tower of loan debt.

    Note to Phil. It matters little how you phrase things. Eventually SOMEONE will find a way to twist it. As long as you reread your titles and posts and make sure it is not overtly sexual or etc, then you are doing good. And if you don’t hear one of your titles or articles on Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me.. You are doing fantastic.

  19. PuffedWheat

    Wow. Bigfoot makes a silly comment about meeting smart women. How horrible of him. Let’s persecute him!

    I lament the day this country went down the road to hypersensitivity. Honestly, you people come across as unbelievably insulated from the true grittiness of reality. What happens when someone does something *actually* offensive. Do your heads just explode or something? Apoplexy perhaps?

    I once made a comment at work about some Draconian new security policies, and I quipped they might as well tattoo barcodes on us to scan us in and out of the building. A Jewish guy overheard me, and went to Human Resources claiming I was making fun of the Holocaust. Forget the fact that the barcode tattoo is an iconic image of the 21st century, and has been used in movies, television and even advertising. The silliness was resolved as a misunderstanding, but that guy always gave me dirty looks until he quit about a year later. Probably wondered if I had a white hood and gown in my closet at home.

  20. Quiet Desperation

    In my opinion the whole culture of physics in the U.S. needs to be changed.

    Bill Bryson’s book “A Short History Of Nearly Everything” is an excellent read on that subject. Almost everything we take for granted these days in science faced unbelievable opposition from the status quo at the time, and I’m not talking Galileo versus the church. I’m talking about groundbreaking researchers against the scientific orthodoxy of the day. It’s an excellent book. Each chapter gives a historical overview of a different science. The discovery and acceptance of plate tectonics is particularly good.

    It’s a circular issue, I think – science is presented to women as a dorky male thing you don’t want to be associated with, so few women go into science

    It also prevents many *men* from going into science! Our whole culture needs to be changed on that front. Just last week I heard about a gathering of mathematicians described as a “nerd gathering” on a radio newscast. Not a talk show. Not a morning joke show. It was a regular newscast on a news only station read by a regular newsreader belittling a meeting of highly educated people as nerds. It is completely ingrained into our culture.

    I’m sorry, but I have never accepted the idea of smart people embracing and reveling in the terms geek and nerd. They are *insults*, plain and simple, and I say to h3ll with them.

  21. MarkD

    >>It’s an aspect of sexism I hadn’t really thought about until recently

    Well, you have to admit, being attracted to a woman for her intellect is very much the lesser of quite a few evils.

    Keep trying making science cool for all the girls out there…. and the boys.

  22. Gary Ansorge

    I’ve heard it said, anticipation is more fun than actually attaining our desire. Political correctness enters into myriad aspects of our discourse and by its very nature deflects our conversations to potentially less productive areas. I recall DollHouse raised all kinds of hackles, because it is looking at the possession and manipulation of people as insensate objects. Yet it is also a commentary on the world wide business in human traffic as,,,insensate objects. Just because we avoid talking about it doesn’t mean it has ceased to exist. Racism is still very much with us, sexism is part of our cultural heritage and manipulating people for gain is intrinsic to capitalism( See: psychic frauds, religion or the sale of other useless stuff).

    Anywhere there is a gathering of the objects of our desire, there will be conflict between what we want vs what we know we SHOULD want.

    Attraction to interesting people for their stimulative effect is just one aspect of our behavior. There is also the
    possibility of sexual congress. Which is why people still hang out at Mensa parties and go home with strangers.

    GAry 7

  23. MarkD,

    I would definitely agree there. I fell in love with my wife for her personality and intellect more than her physical appearance. She’s beautiful, don’t get me wrong, but beauty alone isn’t enough for me. Physical appearance can change, but a person’s mind is long-lasting. In the case of my wife and I, met online and during our first month conversing, I got to know her personality and mind much more than what her body looked like. (Our ten year anniversary of meeting online is coming up on September 12th.)

  24. J Earley

    ecpetersen wrote:

    Would a meeting of men in physics just be assumed to be a “trolling ground” for women to look for guys? Would anybody even think to make that joke about a men’s meeting?

    Yes. When two very attractive young women friends of mine found out that I was going to an OAPT meeting a few years ago, they looked at each other, grinned, made a joke about men with big brains, and begged to come along. So, yeah, it can happen. (BTW, I took them along, and they had a great time)

    Much more seriously, I am very happy that my incoming physics class is more than half women this year- about 17-13 ratio. I have never had this happen in ten years at this high school, and I am pretty happy about it. I have had to really push on the introductory classes to get them (the women) to sign up for physics, and it is finally paying off.
    Also, as time has gone on, I am getting more notices about science events set up to get women to enter science and engineering. So, Phil’s post is another data point on what I consider to be a great trend line.

  25. Rob

    @Greg – when I majored in Physics at a liberal arts college in the South (a little over 15 years ago), there was about zero rote memorization. After the intro course, most professors gave tests open book or with at least a single page of notes allowed in the room, because simply knowing the formulas was very unlikely to help you pass the tests. You had to be able to think through the problems, not just know some collection of facts or formulas. I agree that at the graduate level there is a system that allows certain professors to take advantage of their students, but the graduate Physics and Applied Science students that I knew were largely doing self-directed, independent research, not slavishly reproducing the work that their advisors wanted them to do.

    My one semester of art history required more memorization than all of my Physics courses put together.

  26. Quiet Desperation

    Well, you have to admit, being attracted to a woman for her intellect is very much the lesser of quite a few evils.

    Did you word this the way you intended? You’re basically saying that being attracted to a woman for her intellect is, although lesser in magnitude than other reasons, still an evil thing.

    Racism is still very much with us, sexism is part of our cultural heritage and manipulating people for gain is intrinsic to capitalism( See: psychic frauds, religion or the sale of other useless stuff).

    These things are part of our *human* heritage. So is attraction for others be it for their minds, their looks, the resources they possess or whatever. I’ve yet to determine why some otherwise educated people get so bent out of shape about it. They way I’ve heard some people express it, *any* attraction a man feels for a woman is somehow intrinsically sexist, that we should *never* feel any attraction much less express it.

    And your list of capitalism things is weird. 1. Fraud != capitalism. That’s why we call it fraud and tend to prosecute it. The current economic difficulties are the result of massive stupidly from top to bottom and across the entire political spectrum. It’s the Orient Express of recessions. *Everyone* did it. Capitalism is a basic tool like anything else. It’s not its fault if you keep hitting your thumb with it. You need to learn to use and regulate the tool better. 2. Religion? Huh? 3. Something you find useless is not useless to someone else, and your opinion on the matter is not the final word.

  27. Allyson

    Would you all be so quick to defend someone wolf-whistling at women on the street? Because that’s what it feels like.

    Excellent! There’s a whole meeting for women in science! Hurruh! Something to celebrate! We often wonder how to get more women involved in science! Here’s opportunity!

    And then someone posts the internet equivalent of a wolf-whistle. And someone tells them to knock it off. And then the woman is called oversensitive and PC. And someone waxes poetic about how our animal instincts can’t be helped. And someone mentions an anecdote about how women can be pigs, too.

    Rinse, repeat.

    Someone was rude. Don’t defend rude. Call it out.

  28. Greg

    “@Greg – when I majored in Physics at a liberal arts college in the South (a little over 15 years ago), there was about zero rote memorization.”

    I’m very glad to hear that. Things seem to be more open culturally in physics the farther away you get from the Northeast… and that includes programs that are more welcoming to women. There is still a long way to go though. I have advanced degrees for both Astronomy and Physics and from both coasts. I will have to admit that I prefer the culture of astronomy to physics and the culture out west to that in the east.

  29. IBY

    That is great! Physics is a great subject. Pretty much the closest thing we have for predicting the future. ^_^ The more people is in it, the merrier.

  30. Gary Ansorge

    27. Allyson

    “And someone waxes poetic about how our animal instincts can’t be helped.”

    It’s not that they can’t be helped. It IS that this is how we survived. Were I not attracted to females, I’d have no children.

    26. Quiet Desperation
    I specifically mentioned psychic frauds and religion as selling something. Which is the essence of capitalism, the selling of things we produce. W/o sales, all the capital in the world is useless,,,

    ,,,and yes, religion is worthless. All it does is make big promises that never need to be delivered on. Pie in the sky, cake tomorrow but nothing today.
    Poot!

    I like my promises to actually be worth something, like
    ” Here’s the Nuc I promised. Now, go blow up something.”

    GAry 7

  31. Allyson

    Gary, my apologies for being unclear. Of course we survive because of attraction to the opposite sex and procreating. What I am saying is, we’re all perfectly capable of having intelligent conversations without resorting to whipping it out and humping on the floor. We’re all capable of finding someone attractive without it being the focus of our attention.

    And when there’s a conversation about women in science, celebrating a wonderful opportunity for them in science, it is neither the time, nor the place, to discuss them as sexual objects.

    I know you understand this. I know that if one of these women was giving a talk on cesium fountain clocks, and someone stood up and said, “you’re cute, wanna go for soda after the meeting?” you would understand that was inappropriate discourse.

    It’s inappropriate here, as well.

  32. Gary Ansorge

    31. Allyson:

    Good points, one and all. Especially the one about interrupting a perfectly good conference to indulge a hormonal rush. Loved it!

    “you’re cute, wanna go for soda after the meeting?”

    Man, that’s so lame. I’d have said ” Great presentation. Wanna continue this over dinner?” and of course, I would wait until AFTER the presentation.

    GAry 7

  33. Elise

    In addition to USC’s meeting mentioned above, Yale also has a sister conference for undergraduate women in physics, and there is a Midwest one too that changes location each year:
    http://www.yale.edu/spsyale/cuwpy/
    http://conferences.physics.illinois.edu/wip/

  34. Quiet Desperation

    Someone was rude. Don’t defend rude. Call it out.

    I should clarify that I was not defending Bigfoot. I was speaking to a general attitude I see out in the world of supposed “smart folks”. I basically agree with what you said there.

    I specifically mentioned psychic frauds and religion as selling something. Which is the essence of capitalism, the selling of things we produce.

    I get that. It just smacks of guilt by association fallacy.

  35. Icould add my two cents regarding why the attrition rate is so dramatic, but I’ve learned over the years that no one really cares why I or any other woman dropped out of a science career. I pu my PhD on a shelf a decade ago and wish that I had never done it; can’t recommend it. If people really cared what women like me think and why we dropped out the situation might get better.

  36. Gary Ansorge

    34. QD:

    Yeah, I used to hang out with Hells Angels and DeadHeads a lot and some people thought that made me a hippy.
    Guilt by association,er,wait a minute, I AM a hippy,,,oh well, never mind.

    Gary 7

  37. Molly

    I’m defending Bigfoot. I am a woman and while I’m not a physics major, I’ve taken my fair share of physics courses. Bigfoot I’m sure you will be missing out on meeting some amazingly talented, intelligent, well-spoken and sexy women. I could only hope that you are very interesting because my guess is that their standards are pretty high.

    I have no issue with being smart AND sexy and it is not offensive to be called either. I own my intelligence and my sexuality equally. It is our cultural error that distinguishes the two and holds them to somehow be mutually exclusive when it comes to women. That’s sexist.

  38. kathleen (#35):  Your attitude is, I think, undeserved. The American Astronomical Society Committee on the Status of Women cares very much. There are groups like that in physics as well. If you have a story to tell, then I urge you to talk to them.

  39. The Other David M.

    The reason we see attrition by women in fields like physics has to do with the career path and the reality of the biological clock.

    Get your BS at 21. Grad school for physics is typically 6 years, this gets you to 27. To get a tenure-track position at an R1 typically means a post-doc. OK, this gets you to 29 or 30. Now seven years to tenure… roughly 37. Having a baby at any point before tenure paints you as “not serious” and sinks your chances at an academic career.

    If I had to choose between having children and having a career in physics, I’m having the baby. Being male, I can push the “first baby moment” into my 40s or later. Until we change the way we treat people having families, we should not be surprised that certain fields are male-dominated.

  40. pontoppi

    Sometimes I don’t really understand the way diversity in professional science is promoted. I think that this idea that women need encouragement to not drop out is actually quite condescending. It’s not a matter of begging women to become scientists, or ‘if we put enough sugar on it, maybe they’ll eat it’. It’s not a matter of hiring women just to improve your statistics.

    I think women are smarter than that. The truth is that the early science career track today requires sacrifices that few people are willing to make – no job security, moving every 3 years to a different part of the country (or world), long hours, endless traveling, all for a salary that’s ranging from insulting to so-so. Most people (men and women) I know who dropped out at the grad/post-grad stage do it for family/quality of life reasons. Maybe women are just less likely to keep living like that than your average single, nerdy, socially challenged male.

    In other words: Give everyone equal opportunity, but change the career track, not the women!

  41. Quiet Desperation

    Yeah, I used to hang out with Hells Angels and DeadHeads a lot

    Wow. At the same time? ;-) Now that’s a party.

    I suppose my problem (if it is one) is that I spent 10 years in the west coast BDSM scene, so nothing really phases me. I’m pretty much unoffendable. Is that a word? It is now.

  42. Cusp

    >> I’m just glad the woman in the poster is not wearing the media-required “geek girl glasses”

    While she is not wearing glasses, she is wearing a lab coat – looking at her writing, she appears to be doing some theory work on the time-dependent Schrodinger equation – why do you need a lab coat to do theory?

  43. Cusp

    > Maybe women are just less likely to keep living like that than your average single, nerdy, socially challenged male.

    Nothing like promoting stereo-types eh? I know many male postdocs who are not single, not nerdy and not socially challenged – but promoting science as the realm of gimps is not going to promote it as a career to men or women.

    Having solved the two body problem, with us both of us having (almost) faculty positions in physics at a major university, clearly the biggest impact on my wife’s career has been having children, plain and simple. She finished her PhD one year after me, and is roughly 3-years behind in the career stakes.

  44. diogenes

    Thanks Molly, Cusp and others for great comments. While meetings like the one mentioned (along with the others mentioned here) are Good Things, the facts are that women do better (career wise and graduate school wise) in Physics and Astronomy than in most areas of science and technology in this country. It’s not unusual for a graduate Astronomy class to be 50% female at lots of schools. It’s true that the number of tenured women in Full Prof positions at colleges and universities is not what it should be, but that too is changing with time. Still work to be done of course, but these are not the BAD OLE DAYS.

  45. Greg

    “the facts are that women do better (career wise and graduate school wise) in Physics and Astronomy than in most areas of science and technology in this country.”

    Can you support this assertion with statistics? While what you say is true with astronomy, in my experience it is not true with physics. Sure you can find lots of women working in support of other’s research, but there are few pursuing their own. If you look at the people who actually drive the research in Physics, it is still dominated by men. In this regard physics lags far behind other sciences such as Astronomy and Biology.

  46. pontoppi

    @Cusp
    >She finished her PhD one year after me, and is roughly 3-years behind in the career stakes.

    You’re just proving my point. Nerdy, socially challenged people are by definition less likely to have a partner and/or a life besides science. So, if you select against people with families, that’s naturally what you’ll end up with. I’ve been in professional astronomy long enough – about 10 years – to have lots of highly convincing anecdotal evidence (yes, I kid) that the density of socially awkward people is high, especially considering that such specimens are only weakly interacting by definition, causing some to be left out of the sample. On the other hand, I can’t count how many “not-nerdy”, but very talented, grad/postdoc level astronomy people I’ve talked to who gave up because they “didn’t want to live that life”.

    Sigh – I often wish that it would be accepted to put something like this in your CV (with the appropriate embellishment):

    2007-2009: Enhanced the gene pool by procreating.

  47. Gary Ansorge

    41. Quiet Desperation

    The thing about Hells Angels is most of them were also DeadHeads. They dug the music but they were never hippies.

    I was at a monthly rental studio for musicians named PAradigm studios in Oakland in ’93. Musicians, Hells Angels and hippies all hanging out in the same place. One evening the Angels closed off the back part of the lot to all hippies. I saw a car parked in front of (Henrys) trailer that I’m pretty sure was Jerry Garcias Porsche. After several hours, the Angels took down the barricades and the car was gone. That’s about the closest I ever came to the big guy, but you see the close connect between the Angels and the Dead.

    Jerry DID like to party,,,( so say we all )

    The only thing about this aside that has anything to do with this post is that the Angels were pretty well believed to be misogynist but, to be honest, I never observed any evidence of that. Probably just part of their public persona.
    (On the other hand, most DID have arms the size of
    an average guys thigh. ANyone not scared of them needed a good psyche exam.)

    GAry 7

  48. Quiet Desperation

    Nothing like promoting stereo-types eh? I know many male postdocs who are not single, not nerdy and not socially challenged

    Same with engineering. The marriage rate amongst my coworkers is higher than average. They like their tech and toys and ‘puters, but they seem as balanced and social as anyone. It’s just a part of the mix.

    Not me, of course, as I am a morass of neurological imbalances. :-( And I just found out this week I might be storing too much iron in my body. Yay! Thank you, DNA! :-P

  49. Cusp

    >> You’re just proving my point. Nerdy, socially challenged people are by definition less likely to have a partner and/or a life besides science. So, if you select against people with families, that’s naturally what you’ll end up with.

    I don’t understand how we prove your point – we are married, have kids and I am a 40 year old full professor at a big university. Her career has a delay due to child birth, but I expect that in ~3-4 years that she will be a professor also.

    >> to have lots of highly convincing anecdotal evidence (yes, I kid) that the density of socially awkward people is high

    Not sure where you are working, but I’m glad I am not there.

  50. Gary Ansorge

    48. Quiet Desperation

    Ah Yes, the old Hemochromatosis diagnosis. Too much iron can be even worse than too little as its symptoms mimic several other disorders, like diabetes. The usual medical treatment for those other disorders is to threat the symptoms, which does nothing for the underlying iron overdosing. Simplest solution is apparently giving blood every six weeks. Since my diabetes seemed inexplicable, considering my large muscle mass and no genetic link to diabetes within several generations, I wondered about high iron but blood tests say nay. Bummer. I SO wanted a simple solution to this complex problem.

    Sometimes reality sucks, or is that gravity? Too much confusion here Joker but I’d be a terrible thief.(Sorry. Been watching BSG again)

    GAry 7

  51. At first I misread the title as “Meeting women — for physics undergrads”, as if it was a how-to guide.

    Too bad, as it could have been Phil’s first truly practical post and represented a breakthrough on a centuries-long struggle!

    Okay, just teasing on that last part :)

    [Skims thread] Crap, was that joke in bad taste? I wouldn’t want to offend any of my brilliant, funny, creative, ambitious female friends, or my department chair (a well-published chemist), or any other countless amazing women who kick my ass academically. *sigh*

  52. Freya

    Wow, that sounds fun – I’m a woman physics undergrad, and in my school a meeting of all women physics students would consist of my friend and I talking to each other while waiting for a bus. OK, I’m slightly exaggerating, but the male-to-female ratio both among students and faculty in my school’s physics department varies from 9:1 to 10:1 – and I’ve been the only girl in classes starting back in high school.

    Although, I’m also laughing at Bigfoot’s comment as someone who’s gotten the “what? a real girl? wow!” reaction many times, and yes, I would totally go to a physics conference for males to look for a date, although you can just strike the ‘for males’ part cause there’d still be more than enough of them to go around at a regular physics conference =)

  53. 33. Elise

    Thanks for the Midwest conference link! That will make life a bit easier for the little ol’ Dominican minors we’ve got. :)

  54. Kate

    I attended the Midwest conference this past January, and was impressed at the sheer number of female physics undergrads, I honestly didn’t know that many existed! But really, that’s one of the points, for the underrepresented women to make those connections to other underrepresented women. I highly encourage this sort of conference!

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