SIDEBAR: Pluses and Minuses for Women Graduate Students in Physics

In 1993, graduate and undergraduate physics students provided information on the educational environment of physics departments nationwide (Curtin et al. 1995). [5] In addition, physics professionals conducted site visits to find ways to improve the climate for women in physics departments (Dresselhaus et al. 1995). [6] This project found "that the existing climate for women in physics departments adversely impacts their progress in attaining satisfactory career goals,…identified a number of factors that create a poor climate,…[and] suggested ways to address them and remove them" (p. 20). Among the problems is women's serious underrepresentation on physics faculties. (See text table 4-1.)

Graduate and undergraduate physics students [7] reported that only about one-third of the students said their departments encouraged self-confidence, and U.S. women rated them lowest in this area.

[5] The American Physical Society and the American Association of Physics Teachers, in collaboration with the American Institute of Physics, sent a questionnaire to 1,955 graduate students in physics. The sample drew from all women studying physics at the postbaccalaureate level (2,042 of them, foreign and 2 of 11 men). The response rate was 60 percent (Curtin et al. 1995).
[6] Representatives of the American Physical Society and the American Association of Physics Teachers visited 15 campuses (10 of the visits were funded by the NSF) (Dresselhaus et al. 1995).
[7] Undergraduates were also surveyed, but the researchers found that the results might be unreliable, because of problems with the sample frame and the questionnaire instrument.

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