60-Second Science

Women Physicists Keep Female Students Psyched

At the West Coast Conference for Undergraduate Women in Physics, 170 female students gathered to hear from physicists and share their research. Clara Moskowitz reports


When it comes to the percentage of bachelor's degrees earned by women, physics trails biology, chemistry, earth sciences and math. And women made up just 14 percent of physics college faculty members in 2010.
But these daunting stats did not dampen the mood at the West Coast Conference for Undergraduate Women in Physics January 17 through 19 at the University of California, Berkeley. One-hundred-seventy female students gathered to tour physics labs, hear from physicists and share their research.
“Our goal really is to give these women an opportunity…to come and interact with other women in physics at many different levels…both in academia and in industry.”
Berkeley physicist and conference organizer Gabriel Orebi Gann.
“And one of the ideas is to present them with information about potential career paths…after a physics degree.”
I was once an undergraduate woman majoring in physics. I attended the conference to speak about careers in science writing. Between the attendees there, and those at eight other concurrent conferences for undergraduate women around the country, I'm hoping future statistics on women in physics will be like the Berkeley weather: bright and sunny.

—Clara Moskowitz

[The above text is a transcript of this podcast.]

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