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Drawing on research evidence, STEP UP 4 Women will mobilize thousands of high school physics teachers to reduce barriers and inspire young women to pursue physics degrees in college. The goal is to increase the representation of women amongst physics bachelor’s degrees (Figure 1) and begin to shift deep-seated cultural views about who does physics.
If half of the high school physics teachers encourage just one more female student to pursue physics as a major, a historic shift will be initiated – female students will make up 50% of incoming physics majors.
Join the movement and share with others. Be a part of a historic change in the culture of physics.
Figure 1. Percentage of physics bachelor's degrees earned by women (purple) with the goal of STEP UP 4 Women to reach equal representation in the future (gold).
Women participate in physics majors at about 20% from the time they start undergraduate studies (Figure 2), so we realized that if we wanted to change things for the country, we need to look earlier. Enrollment in high school physics courses is nearly 50% women. Unlike other sciences, post-secondary participation in physics falls dramatically after high school. Thus, high school is one of the last times we can inspire large numbers of women to consider physics-related careers.
High school is likely the most strategic time point since (see Hodapp & Hazari, 2015 for more details):
After registration, teachers will be provided research-based resources to help reduce barriers and inspire women to major in 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.