More than 50 female physicists from around world spent three days in Waterloo this past July examining some of the deepest questions in physics — including the difficult question of why there are relatively so few women in the field. The Women in Physics Canada conference, co-hosted by the Institute for Quantum Computing and the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics, featured scientific workshops and lectures, as well as panel discussions about the disparity between women and men in physics.
According to a study released in 2010 by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) The odds of a female first-grader in 1985 growing up to earn a PhD in physics are 1 in 286. The odds of a boy in the same Grade 1 class eventually earning a physics PhD are markedly better — about 1 in 167, according to the study. The Women in Physics conference was created in part to explain and remedy this discrepancy.
“Events such as this one create a network of peers for young women, and allow them to learn from more senior women the challenges of the job — both scientific, and those challenges that apply more specifically to women,” said Sarah Croke, a co-organizer of the conference. “These are important components in building a successful and, more importantly, fulfilling career in physics.”