Young Women's Perceptions and Experiences of Becoming a Research Physicist

Whitelegg, Elizabeth; Hodgson, Barbara; Scanlon, Eileen and Donovan, Claire (2002). Young Women's Perceptions and Experiences of Becoming a Research Physicist. In: Proceedings of 12th International Conference of Women Engineers and Scientists, 27-31 Jul 2002, Ottawa, Canada.


The research presented here focuses on young women's (under 30 years of age) views of their future careers in physics research and the barriers and constraints they have already experienced and those they anticipate in the future. This research is timely because of girls' increasing success in educational achievement throughout school and university levels.

Our initial survey of female members of the Institute of Physics showed that only 15% of young women under 30 said they encountered barriers in their careers compared to 45% of women over 30 years. However the young women described situations that clearly were barriers and were gender related, but they didn–t recognize them as such. The initial survey detected a drift away from research careers in the over 30s and so this research sought explanations for this by examining the younger women's perceptions of future careers.

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