How will physics address its gender imbalance and gender discrimination problems?

It is important to begin outreach to get girls into physics earlier (elementary and high school level).

Address gender discrimination and not tolerate it when we see it.

The bigger problem is not conscious or overt gender discrimination, but unconscious or institutionalized discrimination.
Gender imbalance and gender discrimination is not precisely a new problem in physics as well as in other spheres of society and science.  In particular, the physics community has been ruled by a notable disproportion between the number of female and male physicists for a long time. This is something that can be seen in every stage of the career: from the amount of women and men that apply to physics undergraduate programs to the amount of men and women that apply and obtain faculty positions at different institutions.  It is of common knowledge that this problem is not independent of a social environment and is not inherent to physics only. However, within the realm of physics this issue can be  addressed in several ways.  One way it can be addressed is by attracting more women to physics undergraduate programs using modern tools like social media in which the traditional image of women in science can be modify by showing the wide range o successful women in the field. In other words, the problem can be addressed by incrementing the social visibility of successful women in physics. That is, to establish female row models that inspire future generations. This will gradually change the old way of thinking about women and men in science by showing society that science, in particular physics, is not for a specific group of people, but in contrast, is a field that embraces and nurtures itself from people's diversity.  This can be complemented by introducing some balance in conferences worldwide in which there is a proper ratio of female to male scientists without a clear bias towards one or the other gender.

Gender imbalance and gender discrimination is not a specific problem for physics. But more imbalances seem to take place in physics than other fields, for example, biology. As female students go to more and more senior positions, more and more discrimination appears.

The problem is different from racism and sexism. It is more about social convention. For example, it is difficult for female postdocs to share the same social life as male postdocs. And for another example, males usually do minimal family work.

Some institutions, like the University of Michigan have taken some steps to address gender imbalance by hiring more women and providing them with advices on teaching and advising.
It provides a more secure life for female scientists. But actually it is not only very related to female scientists. It is a general support of young scientists by making their life easier.

It is vital to raise awareness in the community to these issues. We should make everyone aware of the problem. Simple methods, such as publishing salaries of male and female scientists, can promote people’s awareness.

Science is less attractive for females especially in theoretical physics, nowadays. Some areas like astrophysics is more appealing.
Young females become discouraged at early ages (at least in this country).

Young ages is the problem. We don't encourage girls enough to do physics.

Solution: Motivate young women at early ages to work in physics.
Start from public schools. Respect the differences (between genders) at workplace and use these differences to our advantage. Have open mind. Way of communicating between males and females are different. Learn about these differences. 

Diversity is the solution.

Unconscious bias does exist. Nobody wants to believe that they behave like that (even women in physics are like that). We should overcome culture that science is for man.

Problem is earlier than university

Can’t have “affirmative action” – reinforces

Density changes at each level

What is the timescale where we look for change?

Diversity – not just gender…

Social part – trying to remove bias in selection/letters

If female candidates offered but accept elsewhere – not a bad thing

The problem begins at a young age. Young girls are not encouraged, like boys are, to be curious about how things work; for example, to assemble and disassemble things. This curiosity is one of the fundamental things that make a scientist. Later in life, it is considered less attractive for women to go into science, especially physics, and in particular theoretical physics. The fraction of females vs. males hired in physics departments is significantly less than that in other scientific disciplines such as biology. The field is male-dominated, which makes it harder for females to be part of in the first place.

Solutions to gender imbalance should address all of these problems: from education at an early age, through higher education, up to jobs in academia. We can’t solve one without solving the other. Encouraging young girls to think scientifically will not help if these girls will not be able to pursue their scientific field of choice in college, and if they are able to pursue it they will need to be considered for academic jobs later as equals. Finally, it was suggested that while men and women are different, if not by nature then definitely by nurture, these differences should not only be respected, they should be used to our advantage.

On a personal level, when someone is told that his (or her) behavior is sexist, they should change their behavior; but at the same time, there is no use in placing personal blame or guilt. It’s a problem of our society and culture as a whole, and the solution should be a collective effort by all of us.

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