Background & Goals
APS has had a long-standing interest in improving the climate in physics departments for underrepresented minorities and women. The Committee on the Status of Women in Physics (CSWP) and the Committee on Minorities (COM) both sponsor site visit programs. In recent years, the visits have been expanded to include national labs as well as universities. The site visit program was initially developed to investigate the climate for minorities, and later extended to investigate the climate for women in physics. The goals of these visits are three-fold:
- Identify a set of generic problems commonly experienced by minority and/or women physicists.
- Intervene to solve many of these generic problems.
- Address problems arising in the particular physics department or lab visited and help improve the climate for minorities or women (both students and faculty) in the facility.
During the Visit
Site visits are conducted at the request of a department chair or lab director. Once a date is agreed upon, a team will be assembled. Prior to the visit, students/employees will be asked to complete a confidential survey, for the team's use only. On the day of the visit, members of the site visit team meet with the physics department chair/lab director, groups of physics faculty/staff members, minority or women faculty members in physics (or related areas), administrators responsible for faculty appointments or hiring, minority or women graduate students, and minority or women undergraduates. The goal of these meetings is to provide the site visit team with the quantitative and qualitative information they need to assess the climate for women or minorities in the host facility.
After the Visit
The team will write a report for the department chair/lab director, detailing the findings of the visit and offering simple, practical suggestions on improving the climate for minorities or women. The chair/lab director is encouraged to share the report with the rest of the department/lab. Approximately 18 months after the visit, the department chair/lab director will be asked to respond in writing to the team, describing actions taken to improve the climate.
Procedures & Costs
- Best Practices
Suggestions to assist departments in finding and keeping women physics faculty, postdocs, graduate and undergraduate students.
- "Before the Visit"
Suggestions for ensuring a successful site visit.
- "What Works for Women in Undergraduate Physics"
Barbara Whitten, et al., presents the results of site visits to nine undergraduate physics departments with high participation by women.
- "Improving the Climate for Women in Physics"
Judy Franz, Executive Officer of APS and Secretary General of the International Union of Pure and Applied Physics.
- Letter from CSWP Past Chair
- Campus Climates for Women: Improving the Climate for Women in Physics
Sherry Yennello and Catherine Fiore, both past chairs of the Committee on the Status of Women in Physics, discuss the site visit project.