Monday 13 July 2015

Where do we go from here?

It has now been six months since the Women in Physics group was rejuvenated at the AIP congress in December.  Since then we've had renewed motivation from the AIP council to support our aim, seen a blog established to support the community, have seen our committee members co-opted to a number of other positions in the AIP and now have picked our 2015 Women in physics lecturer.

It's probably time that we started to think strategically about what our aims are up to December 2016, and how we are going to move towards them.  So with that in mind, I’m (Helen – Chair of the Women in Physics group) putting together a strategy, outlining our issues and suggesting an (realistic) action to undertake.  So I thought I’d put this to you all – please add your thoughts in the comments!  What I’ll do is collate them and put a finalised strategy and action to the committee.      

Women in Physics group draft strategy 2014-2016

What are the BIG issues?
1.    Vast drop in young women taking high-school physics in Australia.
2.    Women aren’t reaching top positions in physics and physics-based industries.
3.    Women in developing countries in need of support for their science.

What do we do already?
The group already assists in the well-established AIP women in physics lecture tour, definitely a positive step towards addressing issue 1 through a positive role model. 

Established session at AIP congress every two years.  This has been very successful, along with the establishment of a ‘Women in Physics’ breakfast.  Excellent networking for issue 2.

Establishment of Women in Physics blog , rather than a newsletter.  The idea is that it will be more ‘evolving’ and allow more people to be involved and comment.

What are the difficulties in doing more?
We’re quite a diverse bunch.  Think that the reason that the astronomers seem a lot more focused (and successful in these activities) is that they are united about a science focus.  With a rapidly declining number of just physics departments it is getting harder to identify who is a physicist.  We are all pretty cross disciplinary these days. 

No one is collating the numbers.  Gender balance statistics used to be collected, but now aren’t. 

Geography, a problem for all Australian societies – membership is spread over an area the size of Europe.  That said, collating numbers should enable us to identify where people are so that we run

Possible things to help us do more?
Partnerships – Women in Engineering,  RACI,  Women in Astronomy?

Involvement with Science Academy’s SAGE project?

Seeking sponsorship – have seen some very impressive  work by the UNSW engineers in seeking sponsorship for their events

How to move forward?

At present, partnership must be key.  I propose to approach the Women in Chemistry group of RACI, and suggested a joint event in Sydney (they have run networking events in Melbourne, so would increase their reach too).  Propose event of ‘science leadership’ – plus networking after.   


  1. Involvement with the academy's SAGE project sounds like an obvious good move.

  2. I think this is a good idea to work with RACI, or even any of the other societies (Women in Maths maybe). I met up with Joanne Hall from WIM at the recent Women in Astronomy workshop. Networking with these societies would be a great idea.