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Women in Physics Workshop 2017

Participants share ideas and experiences

Women in Physics Workshop 2017
Women in Physics Workshop 2017

26/10/2017 - Trieste

The women who attended the 2017 Career Development Workshop for Women in Physics came to the workshop for many reasons, chief among them to stave off a feeling of isolation that can come with being a tiny minority in the field of physics research. Sessions on networking, support, advice, and skill development filled the week. Participants had many thoughts about the workshop and state of the inclusiveness of science and scientists. Some of their comments are below:


What skills, inspiration, or other qualities do you hope to gain or learn from this Career Development workshop at ICTP?

“Sometimes I think that I am alone, but this workshop is a good antidote to that feeling.”

“I'm interested in how to present your science to best effect and how to prepare successful grant proposals; these are not taught anywhere else.”

WinP group“I have always been doubting whether I would be good enough for all of the necessities of a scientific career. I think I will gain more confidence and motivation here.”

“Speaking without fear in front of many people. Inspiration/motivation to do better. Networking. The feeling that I am not alone."

“Better networking and negotiation skills, as well as inspiration and motivation from women in physics who actually ‘did’ it and rose to where they are now.”


Have you found any obstacle/prejudice in pursuing your career in physics from family, friends, or colleagues?

“Yes, when I chose physics some of my family members found it was strange, a man’s field, not a place for me to go. All the times I talk with someone and say that I study physics, the person has a negative/prejudiced reaction.”

“My family did think that physics is a difficult major and was skeptical about my choice. They proposed other options although they never told me not to do it.”

WinP1“My family and my friends always supported me but colleagues sometimes try to create obstacles.”

“At lab, I find that I get more relaxation being female. People have a kind of mindset that women cannot challenges like men. This hurts me.”

“Yes, I have encountered sexism, harassment, and bullying from strangers and colleagues, more so earlier in my career.”

“No, not really. I just always get that question, ‘what will you be after your degree? A teacher?’”

“I was at an all-girls high school, and one of my male physics teachers clearly told me that it wasn’t much of an achievement getting first in physics in an all-girls school, when I won the award.”

“No, I’ve always had lots of support fro my choice of career, from both family and excellent professional mentors.”


What policy changes at your institution would make the biggest difference in fighting gender imbalance in physics?

“Arranging some seminars/counseling activity for men could change the mindset of belittling of women.”

“Some proactive actions: some kindergarten childcare rooms, flexible working hours, something that will make it possible for a woman to work in the same conditions as a man.”

“Our PIs and profs say “Yes, there is a gender problem, but not at our institution.” Which is my opinion is not true. They should become aware of the existing challenges.”

Demos WinPinfo“Blind (or as blind as possible) review processes for scholarship/fellowship/faculty positions. At my institutions its more of a racial imbalance, rather than a gender imbalance.”

“When applying for a position, I would like to have a “Women applicants privileged,” comment.

“There is already some policy in place, by Italian law, but I think my institution does not comply with this (there is a very low percentage of female professors). Increasing this to meet the legal minimum would be a good start.

“I think my institution is doing a great job in fighting gender imbalance in physics. Women hold key positions in the administration and leadership and men scientists treat women as colleagues and collaborators.”


How do you think men can best get involved in fighting gender imbalance in science?

“I think they need to truly listen to what their female colleagues are saying and they need to participate and get involved in activities that promote information and actions to change this imbalance. They need to feel responsible for changing this imbalance.”

“Education, awareness, knowledge, especially about unconscious bias.”

Obstacles Win PInfo“Be open to believing that there actually is a problem in science which women face that they don’t. Stand up for female colleagues and call out other male colleagues when they discriminate or show bias."

“I think we can get men involved in fighting gender imbalance in science by accepting the idea that women chosen to work or to do research is based on their ability and competences not based on their gender.”

“Speak up publicly when others act in sexist ways. Support the work of their women colleagues.”

“Men can help more with family and housework- in a lot of countries women are seen as responsible for family and kids.”

“The main thing si becoming aware of the imbalance without dismissing it. Men can also take up more of the “family” or “home” duties.”


Why do you think this type of workshop is important?

“For uplifting motivation/inspiration among the participants. Improve networking among female scientists will be a great help for the early career as well as the students.”

WinP4“We don’t often realize we’re experiencing discrimination because it is the status quo. It’s good for women to come together to discuss issues facing our demographic and share stories of experiences in our careers, both good and bad.”

“It provides skills and networking opportunities to women who many otherwise be very isolated- and prepares them to help other women physicists in their home countries (a multiplier effect).”

“Because you can have evidence that women face exactly the same problems all around the world.”