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Vol. 25 No. 2
March-April 2003

Bookworm | Books and publications hot off the press.
See also www.iupac.org/publications
 

Women in Physics

Beverly K. Hartline and Dongqi Li (editors)
AIP Conference Proceedings, Volume 628, Melville, NY, 2002.
(ISBN 0-7354-0074-1)

It takes women in some countries about 10 years longer than their male colleagues to advance to the rank of professor. Societal expectations and educational opportunities present barriers in many countries to girls and women with talent for and interest in physics. To develop strategies to improve this situation, the first International Conference on Women in Physics brought together more than 300 physicists–about 15% of them men–from 65 countries for three days of energizing and inspirational presentations, discussion sessions, and informal interactions. Organized by a working group of the International Union of Pure and Applied Physics (IUPAP), the conference was held at UNESCO headquarters in Paris from 7 to 9 March 2002. The IUPAP Working Group on Women in Physics, established in 1999, was charged to understand and to develop strategies for increasing women’s participation in and impact on the field. It is worth noting that the conference brought together physicists from about 50% more countries than are represented in IUPAP.

The proceedings make it possible for the conference to have impact far beyond the participants. Readers will find in this volume the welcoming remarks, survey report, invited presentations, ideas and strategies from the discussions, resolutions, recommendations, and wonderfully diverse contributions from the participating countries.

Under the leadership of Chairperson Marcia Barbosa (Brazil), the Working Group initiated an international survey of women in physics and organized the conference, inviting teams of physicists from many countries to attend. Each team was asked to develop a brief report and a poster on the situation of women in physics in its country to share at the conference. Attendees heard the results of the survey and received its preliminary written report. Ten distinguished speakers –at least one from every major geographic region–each provided insights into her own experiences and described the situations, barriers, and actions related to women in physics in her country. Participants were welcomed by Philippe Busquin, Commissioner for Research of the European Union; Walter Erdelen, Assistant Director-General for Natural Sciences at UNESCO; and Burton Richter, President of IUPAP. Discussions focused on issues and strategies related to six important topics for increasing women’s involvement in physics: attracting girls into physics, launching a successful physics career, getting women into physics leadership, improving the institutional climate, learning from regional differences, and balancing family and career.

At its final session, the conference unanimously adopted eight resolutions directed at schools, universities, research institutes, industries, scientific societies, national governments, granting agencies, and IUPAP. These resolutions were presented and endorsed at the 2002 IUPAP General Assembly in Berlin. In addition, numerous recommendations were compiled that feature specific actions or interventions, many of which have been proven successful in one or more countries.

The proceedings are available for free at <proceedings. aip.org/proceedings/confproceed/628.jsp>. More details on the conference can be found at the Web site below under a link to the International Conference on Women in Physics.

www.iupap.org


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