May 2, 2007

Top University Chairs and National Lab Leaders to Focus on Doubling the Number of Women in Physics in the Next 15 Years

College Park – Chairs of 50 major research-oriented physics departments in the US as well as about 15 physics-related national laboratory managers will be gathering May 6-8 to participate in an ambitious workshop intended to double the number of women in all levels of physics research and education. The workshop will take place at the American Center for Physics in College Park, MD.

“This is an important issue,” says workshop co-chair Nora Berrah of Western Michigan University, “not only for the present generation of women with hopes to work happily in physics, but also for the next generation. Anyone who has a niece, daughter, sister, mother or spouse would want them to succeed without the road blocks and the historic gender biases in physics and related fields.”

Arthur Beinenstock of Stanford University will join Berrah as co-chair of the workshop entitled “Gender Equity: Strengthening the Physics Enterprise in Universities and National Laboratories.”

Although women are at a disadvantage in many of the sciences, they are particularly scarce in physics, making up only 13% of faculty of all ranks from 760 degree-granting physics departments in the US (Statistical Research Center AIP, 2006) and 7.9% of faculty of all ranks at the major research universities (Donna Nelson, 2005 Report). Comparable hard sciences, such as astronomy and chemistry attract and retain women researchers at about twice these levels.

Berrah is hopeful that bringing together leaders of major research-oriented physics departments and national labs along with administrators of the primary research funding organizations, including the National Science Foundation and the Department of Energy, will lead to fundamental changes in culture, policy and funding that will attract and retain more women in physics.

Notable workshop topics and presentations include:

  • " Beyond Bias and Barriers: Fulfilling the Purpose of Women in Academic Science and Engineering," Alice Agogino, University of California at Berkeley
  • "The Nation Needs More Women Physicists ,” Arthur Bienenstock, Stanford University
  • “What Can Institutions Do to Eliminate Gender Disparities and Help All Scientists Flourish?” Virginia Valian, Hunter College
  • "Do Babies Matter in Scientific Careers? The Case for Changing the Culture,” Mary Ann Mason, University of California at Berkeley
  • “Bias Against Caregiving in the Academic Workplace: Evidence and Implications,” Robert Drago, Penn State University

Gender Equity Workshop Press Conference

A post-workshop press conference featuring the workshop co-chairs, steering committee members and some speakers and panelists will be held May 8 at 2:15PM (Eastern Time) at the American Center for Physics in College Park .

Press conference participants will summarize the outcomes of the workshop, including strategies required and issues involved in doubling the number of women in physics by 2022.

Journalists who cannot attend, but hope to take part remotely, can call in to the press conference. Contact James Riordon of the American Physical Society (, 301-209-3238) for conference call details.

More details about the workshop can be found at

Full List of Workshop Chairs, Panelists, and Speakers

Co-chair, Arthur Bienenstock, Stanford University

Co-chair, Nora Berrah, Western Michigan University

Tony Chan, National Science Foundation

Patricia Dehmer, Department of Energy

Alice Agogino, University of California at Berkeley

Theodore Hodapp, American Physical Society

Virginia Valian, Hunter College

Mary Ann Mason, University of California at Berkeley

Meg Urry, Yale University

Robert Drago, Penn State University

Ana Mari Cauce, University of Washington

Patricia Falcone, Sandia National Laboratories

Myron Campbell, University of Michigan

Millie Dresselhaus, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Sherry Yennello, Texas A&M University

Karen Watson, Texas A&M University

Laurie McNeil, University of North Carolina , Chapel Hill , Chair

Patricia Rankin, University of Colorado

Sue Rosser, Georgia Institute of Technology

Natalie Roe, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

Catherine Fiore, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Barbara Whitten, Colorado College

Howard Georgi, Harvard University

Marc Kastner, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Keivan Stassun, Vanderbilt and Fisk Universities

Judith Sunley, National Science Foundation

Judy Franz, American Physical Society

Sharon Wyatt, Department of Energy

Alice Hogan, National Science Foundation

Patricia Hyer, Virginia Tech

Patricia Rankin, University of Colorado

Eric Rohlfing, Department of Energy

Beverly J. Berger, Department of Energy

Joseph Dehmer, National Science Foundation

W. Lance Haworth, National Science Foundation

G. Wayne Van Citters, National Science Foundation


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The American Physical Society ( is a non-profit membership organization working to advance and diffuse the knowledge of physics through its outstanding research journals, scientific meetings, and education, outreach, advocacy and international activities. APS represents over 51,000 members, including physicists in academia, national laboratories and industry in the United States and throughout the world. Society offices are located in College Park, MD (Headquarters), Ridge, NY, and Washington, DC.

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