The Committee on the Status of Women in Physics was founded 24 years ago to address the production, retention, and career development of women physicists and to gather and maintain data on women in physics in support of these objectives. To this end, the Committee sponsors a diverse array of projects including the quarterly CSWP Gazette, which has a circulation of more than 4,000; a Roster of Women in Physics to assist institutions in finding qualified women candidates for job openings; the CSWP/AAPT site visit project, aimed at improving the climate for women in university physics departments; WIPHYS, an Internet listserver for women in physics with more than 600 subscribers; and a new project to compile an archive of the Contributions of Women to Physics 1898-1998, to demonstrate that women, as well as men, have been major players in the scientific endeavor. And, the number and percentage of women in physics have indeed increased.
Yet in the present job market, the question may reasonably be asked, Why encourage women to make careers in physics? Is it fair to them? Will they not simply swell the numbers of unemployed and underemployed physicists? J. Robert Schrieffer, APS President, gave the following answer to these questions:
Members of CSWP have also addressed the question of why we are encouraging women into physics when jobs are scarce. Here are three views:
Gordon Gray Professor of Physics and Astronomy
University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
Co-author of "Rethinking Science as a Career: Perceptions and Realities in the Physical Sciences," (Research Corporation, 1995)
If science is to thrive, we must make it our goal to achieve a scientifically literate society, a population that understands and values the contributions that science can make to our national well-being. Women are half that population. Only when women see that women are participating fully in the scientific endeavor-as researchers in the laboratory, as scientific leaders, and as policy makers-will they feel equal partners in a technological society.
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