Thanks for reading the first post. I just want to give a brief statement of my motivation for writing this blog, and I want to let you guys know what to expect.
Some good news. The percentage of women getting Ph.D.'s in physics is slowly increasing (http://www.aip.org/statistics/trends/highlite/edphysgrad/figure3a.htm). I expect more and more women to be going into the field. But, I heard an alarming statistic the other day: the percentage of bachelors degrees in Physics going to women has been constant or declining for the past few years (http://www.aip.org/statistics/trends/highlite/edphysund/figure6a.htm). Now, the number of bachelor's degrees going to women is still increasing, but I think the percentage of women receiving degrees is what we should be looking at. After all, more and more people are going to college every day, so it's expected that the counts of people would increase. Here is another plot of interest: http://www.aip.org/statistics/trends/highlite/other/womenbach.htm. Women are getting more and more of the degrees granted nationwide. But the share of new female students who are going into computer science, mathematics, and physics is dropping. The trends found in bachelor's degrees precede the trends found in graduate degrees by about 6 years. So potentially, the percentage of women getting Ph.D.'s in physics could also drop.
I want to know WHY the percentage of women in physics going down. Right now there is a ton of support for women entering physics. We have conferences and mentorship programs all over the nation. But one crucial voice is missing: the women who dropped out of the physics major, and the women who majored in physics but chose to not go on to graduate school. I write this blog because I want to hear from the women who chose not to continue in physics. They are the ones who can shed the true insight! I also want to hear from women who did continue in physics. What made you pick physics, and what made you stay?
Now, why do I care? I graduated with my B.A. in Physics from Reed College in 2011. I had two summers of research experience with three publications. I got great grades in my physics classes and had all my professors encouraging me to go to graduate school. I'd planned to get my Ph.D. in physics since my freshman year of college. But, at the beginning of my senior year, I decided I didn't want to go into physics. I didn't take any physics classes, and I all but estranged myself from the department. WHY?! I've obviously done a lot of soul seeking since I graduated, and I've returned to physics. I work in operations at SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory and I'm now in the process of applying to physics graduate schools. But the reasons I chose not to apply right away are subtle and powerful, and I'm wondering if anyone else has stories like mine. The structure of this blog will be posts by me, sharing events in my life that either deterred me from physics or encouraged me to study physics. But most of all...
I WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU.
Post responses, email me responses, text responses, post responses on my facebook. I want to hear all experiences that affected your decisions to go into (or not go into) physics. Maybe we can find some sort of consensus! I want to post your stories in addition to mine.
A quick comment: I realize that it is also important to hear from men that decided not to continue in physics. Eventually we can normalize it across the sexes. But for now, I want to hear your voices, women!