Now that the 6 week, 4 days a week, at 8 am physics class that I just recently taught is over I can post a comment on something I noticed about my class. Women made up 62% of the class. Now you may not think that this is a big deal but it is to me. Over the years of teaching at various institution I have always noticed that the number of females in my science courses are low with the exception of astronomy that tends to be a pretty even mix. Even while I was an undergrad I was one of a small handful of women students in physics and in graduate school I was the only woman student in the graduate school for physics. So I am pretty used to it.
The reason for the low number of women taking science courses (especially physics) I can only guess is because girls are not necessarily encouraged as they grow to investigate the areas of science. If you look at product placement in the past for things like chemistry sets, microscopes, and telescopes usually they show boys happily playing away on the box. It seems to me that in the past the attitude toward females has been, don’t girls just play with dolls, do their hair, and go clothes shopping…isn’t that all they are excited in??? Shouldn’t you be just out there trying to find a good man to marry so he can take care of you and think for you??? Well perhaps this is finally changing…..considering I noticed a number of newer chemistry set boxes and the like have both genders on the cover.
The reason for the higher number of women in my course may be a fluke which I hope is not true. I am hoping that as girls are being brought up in the present and future that they are being introduced to the areas of science with just as much vigor as their male counterparts. In fact maybe this is the reason for the higher number of women in my course who plan on becoming doctors, engineers, and yes even physicists. I am pretty sure that if my dad hadn’t given me a chemistry set, a microscope, a telescope, a computer, and all kinds of books on astronomy I probably wouldn’t have pursued the path I did. So I say hurrah to more women in science…it is not just a boys club anymore!