Translate to multiple languages

Subscribe to my Email updates
Enjoy what you've read, make sure you subscribe to my Email Updates

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

How we can turn the tide for women in science | Education - The Conversation - Canada

Photo: Rowan Thomson
The award of a Nobel Prize in physics to Donna Strickland this week is an opportunity to build support for women in science, says Rowan Thomson, Canada Research Chair and Associate Professor in the Department of Physics at Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada.

Women are still typically the minority on academic hiring committees in science, and “majority rules.”
Photo: Shutterstock

For the first time in 55 years, a woman has won the Nobel Prize in physics — Prof. Donna Strickland. This win has publicly highlighted that women are still under-represented in science, particularly in physics.

As a woman in physics, this lack of diversity is something that I encounter almost daily, and also something that we can take action to change.

As an undergraduate science student, I was confronted with the lack of women in science at the National Research Council (NRC) of Canada in 2001. The first day of my summer job in NRC’s now-defunct “Women in Engineering and Science” program, I was shocked looking around the lunchroom. Where were the women? The vast majority of scientists were men!

The situation was similar in my university studies — I only ever had two female professors.
That lack of diversity was something I grew accustomed to. A resident at Perimeter Institute for my PhD studies, I was often the only woman in the room at scientific meetings or seminars. My office was shared with four male students, and there were some jokes that I had been assigned “the secretary’s desk” and remarks about the colour of my T-shirt.

I was the only woman in the room for my PhD defence at the University of Waterloo in 2007...

Juggling science and motherhood 
Not all women in physics are mothers, but motherhood opened my eyes to the many challenges at the heart of juggling family and physics. Sleep deprivation, family responsibilities and parenting are all in competition with travelling to international meetings, completing research papers and supervising students, plus preparing and delivering lectures.

Submitting research grant applications after my maternity leave, I wondered: Did the male-majority grant panels really comprehend the challenges in building my physics career while being a mother?

After Prof. Strickland’s Nobel Prize win announcement this week, a respected scientist remarked his surprise that another world-class, renowned male optics expert had been overlooked “maybe because he was not a woman.”
Read more... 

Source: The Conversation - Canada