Women & Minorities

In 1972, the American Physical Society founded both the APS Committee on the Status of Women in Physics (CSWP) and the APS Committee on Minorities in physics (COM). Each of these committees consists of nine members appointed by the APS President and their goals are to address the production, retention, and career development of women and minority physicists respectively. To date, many programs and activities have been created under the auspices of these committees to further these goals. Some of them are included below.

To encourage participation of under-represented groups, the APS Committee on the Status of Women in Physics and Committee on Minorities in Physics urge all units to consider a diverse group of individuals when making nominations for fellowship and for award selection committees. If you need assistance with this, please contact either of the two people listed at the bottom of this page. Also, both the CSWP and COM are available to partner with units to co-sponsor sessions at the March and April meetings.

Programs & Activities

  • Women & Minority Speakers Lists
    APS has compiled the names, contact information and talk titles of women and minority physicists who are available to give talks in various venues including high schools, physics departments, and other public arenas. These lists are indexed by the talk topic’s field of physics and by state, and they can be searched online.
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  • Travel Grants Minority Speakers
    The travel grant program is intended to expand the opportunity for physics departments to invite minority physicists to give colloquium or seminar talks in their departments. In addition to increasing the recognition of minority physicists, this program allows speakers to serve as role models for minority undergraduates, graduate students and faculty. Modest travel grants (up to $500) are available to physics departments for the reimbursement of travel costs for the invited minority speakers.
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  • 'Climate for Women' and 'Climate for Minorities' Site Visits
    Groups of accomplished women physicists or minority physicists are invited at the behest of physics department chairs to assess the climate for women or minorities in their departments. The site visit team surveys students and faculty before the visit and meets with students, faculty, and administrators during the visit. Once the visit is completed, the team will debrief the chair of the department and send a final confidential report. The chair is also asked to send the team an update on the department’s progress one year after the visit.

    To date, there have been over 50 Climate for Women site visits and over 15 Minority site visits to universities. Many of these visits have served to highlight and present solutions to problems that not only affect minorities and women in physics but all students and faculty in the physics department.
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  • Roster of Women and Minorities in Physics
    The roster is a database that contains contact, educational, and employment information of women and minorities in physics. It also serves as the mailing list for the CSWP and COM newsletter, the Gazette.
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  • COM/CSWP Receptions and Invited Sessions at APS Meetings
    At each APS March and April meeting, the Committee on Minorities in Physics (COM) and the Committee on the Status of Women in Physics (CSWP) co-sponsor a reception to allow members of the community to meet, greet and network. COM and CSWP also organize invited sessions during which minority and women physicists give technical or educational talks.
Women's Programs
  • Professional Development Skills for Women Physicists
    CSWP offers one-day workshops for women physicists prior to the APS March and April Meetings. The workshops are conducted by professional facilitators and cover communication and negotiation skills, in addition to offering a special opportunity for networking.
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  • The Gazette, the official newsletter of the CSWP and COM, features updates on committee activities and programs, book reviews, reports, and articles on programs designed to increase the participation of girls and women in science. The Gazette reaches about 3000 subscribers and is published in the Spring and Fall. Subscriptions are free; send an email with your mailing address to women@aps.org.
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  • M. Hildred Blewett Annual Fellowship for Women in Physics
    APS has been designated the primary beneficiary of a generous bequest from Dr. M. Hildred Blewett, a particle accelerator physicist who died in 2004. The award is intended to enable a woman to return to a physics research career after having had to interrupt that career.
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  • Maria Goeppert-Mayer Award
    This APS Award is meant to recognize and enhance outstanding achievement by a woman physicist in the early years of her career, not later than ten years after the granting of the Ph.D. degree, for scientific achievements that demonstrate her potential as an outstanding physicist, and to provide opportunities for her to present these achievements to others through public lectures in the spirit of Maria Goeppert-Mayer.
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  • APS/IBM Research Internship for Undergraduate Women With IBM
    APS co-sponsors with IBM a research internship for undergraduate women in physics and related fields. The goal is to encourage women students to pursue graduate studies in science and engineering. The internships are salaried positions typically 10 weeks long at one of three IBM research locations and include the opportunity to work with an IBM mentor.
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  • Friends of the CSWP is an electronic list serve for APS members who wish to hear more about the committee’s work, suggest issues for discussion, and nominate qualified women for prizes/fellowship in the APS.
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  • APS Conferences for Undergraduate Women in Physics (CUWIP) are three-day regional conferences for undergraduate physics majors. The conferences provide students with the opportunity to experience a professional conference, information about graduate school and professions in physics, and access to other women in physics of all ages with whom they can share experiences, advice, and ideas.
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  • The Women in Physics (WIPHYS) ListServ is a moderated list serve which serves as a means to exchange advice and discuss issues of interest to women in physics. There are now about 700 subscribers.
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Minority Programs
  • APS Bridge Program
    This program is an effort to increase the number of physics PhDs. awarded to underrepresented minority students. APS is creating sustainable transition programs and a national network of doctoral granting institutions to mentor students to successfully complete PhD programs. The project incorporates strong evidence about support structures that predict academic success of URM students, and establishes links between minority serving institutions and doctoral granting institutions through research activities, collaboration, and personal contact.Since many of today's doctoral students will become tomorrow's academic, industrial and government leaders, educating more URM PhDs will have a multiplicative effect in educating and inspiring students at all stages in the system and will help address persistent disparities.

    The broad goals governing the program are to:

    • Increase, within a decade, the fraction of physics PhDs awarded to underrepresented minority students to match the fraction of physics Bachelor's degrees granted to these groups
    • Develop, evaluate, and document sustainable model bridging experiences that improve the access to and culture of graduate education for all students, with emphasis on those underrepresented in doctoral programs in physics
    • Promote and disseminate successful program components to the physics community

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  • Edward A. Bouchet Award
    Each year, APS bestows the Edward A. Bouchet Award upon an African American, Hispanic American, or Native American physicist who has made remarkable contributions to physics and is an outstanding communicator. Edward Bouchet was the first African American to receive the PhD at an American university (Yale), and his PhD was obtained in 1874 in the field of physics.
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  • National Society of Black Physicists and National Society of Hispanic Physicists
    The Committee on Minorities in Physics (COM) maintains close ties with the National Society of Hispanic Physicists (NSHP) and the National Society of Black Physicists (NSBP). Periodically, the groups collaborate on informal studies related to education and employment of minorities in physics, and they work together on programs to promote the recruitment and retention of minorities in physics.

For more information on APS Women’s Programs contact:

Deanna Ratnikova
American Physical Society
One Physics Ellipse
College Park, MD 20740
phone: (301) 209-3231
fax: (301) 209-3357
ratnikova@aps.org

For more information on APS Minority Programs contact:

Arlene Modeste Knowles
American Physical Society
One Physics Ellipse
College Park, MD 20740
phone: (301) 209-3232
fax: (301) 209-3357
knowles@aps.org