Procedures & Costs

The Climate for Women Site Visit Program was designed to help physics departments or labs improve the "chilly climate" that women in physics sometimes experience. By speaking with graduates, undergraduates, faculty, employees, and administrators, an experienced team of physicists evaluates the strengths and weaknesses of the department/lab in communicating with and supporting women.

The experience and perspective of the site visit team can help you bring your facility's current strengths into better focus and pinpoint changes you can make to increase recruitment and retention of women faculty, students, and employees. All of the team's findings are confidential.


The site visit is initiated by an invitation from the department chair or director of the laboratory and normally lasts one day. A team leader will be appointed for the site visit, a woman physicist with experience on other site visits.The department chair/lab director and the team leader will decide upon a convenient date for the visit.

The Site Visit Team

Two to four additional physicists will be selected to participate on the visit.The team leader will consult with the department chair/lab director regarding any special characteristics of the department/lab, and will make every effort to choose team members from the same geographical area as the department to minimize travel costs. Occasionally, a social scientist may be added to the team to contribute their expertise to the discussion.

Preparation by the Department

Information regarding the site visit program will be sent to the department in advance of the visit. The department or laboratory will be asked to provide information, including enrollment statistics by gender, faculty roster, recent hiring activity, recruiting brochures, and family leave policies. 

During the visit, meetings may be requested with the following:
  • Department chair/lab director
  • Female faculty in the department/women in the lab
  • Female graduate and undergraduate students
  • Administrators (Dean, Provost, President)
  • Graduate and undergraduate advisers
  • Other groups, such as female postdocs and staff

Prior to the visit, APS will administer survey questionnaires to graduate and undergraduate students and/or lab employees.The results of the surveys, as well as any written comments, are then provided to the site visit team to assist them in preparing for the visit.All survey results are confidential to the team.


The site visit team ordinarily conducts an exit interview with the department chair or lab director to render a preliminary report of its findings. A confidential written report to the chair/lab director will be produced by the team after the visit. No information specific to the institution, including the survey results, is made public. The chair/lab director will be asked to report back to the site visit team leader 18 months after the visit, describing changes which have occurred as a result of the visit.


Expenses for the visit (i.e., travel costs for team members and lodging for the team) are the responsibility of the host institution.All members of site visit teams serve as volunteers. There is a $1120 charge per site visit to offset costs associated with programming and tabulating student surveys.There is also a $200 charge per visit for APS administrative staff time. Department chairs are urged to request support for the visit from the administrative officer responsible for the recruitment and retention of under-represented groups.

For more information about the Climate for Women Site Visit program, contact:
Deanna Ratnikova at

Gray arrow  Summary of the NSF-Funded, Joint AAPT/APS, Site Visits Program (1990-1994)