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The percentage of women earning bachelor's degrees in physics is declining and continues to lag behind the other sciences (Figure 1). The STEP UP 4 Women project is tackling the issue by designing research-based curriculum/classroom strategies for high school teachers to encourage women to study undergraduate physics. Unlike other sciences, post-secondary participation in physics falls dramatically, with high school, in most cases, being the last time we can inform and recruit large numbers of women into the field.
STEP UP 4 Women seeks to increase the number of women earning degrees in physics by dramatically increasing the number of women majoring in physics in college, closing the gap between the those that take physics in high school (~50%) and those that enter college intending to declare a physics major (~20%) (Figure 2). Unlike other sciences, post-secondary participation in physics falls dramatically, with high school, in most cases, being the last time we can inform and recruit large numbers of women into the field.
If a third of high school physics teachers recruit one additional female student to a physics major, the incoming college gap will be closed.
Figure 1. Percentage of bachelor's degrees in physics, chemistry, and biology earned by women.
Figure 2. Percentage of students in physics, chemistry, and biology who are women at various academic stages. College entrance refers to first-year students' intent to major.
Source: HERI and NCES
High school is likely the most strategic time point since: (see Hodapp & Hazari, 2015 for more details):
Teachers will be provided research-based resources to help recruit women to physics including:
This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant Nos. 1720810, 1720869, 1720917, and 1721021. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.