Geographic diversity can be a key to reduce the gender gap in sciences, especially in physics
The global scientific union dedicated to physics, International Union of Pure and Applied Physics (IUPAP), holds the International Conference on Women in Physics every three years. The 8th edition was hosted between July 10 to 14, 2023, by the Gender in Physics working group of Indian Physical Society and Tata Institute of Fundamental Research.
The conference brought together men and women from around the world with a mandate to monitor the situation of women in physics in their countries and to suggest ways to increase gender diversity and inclusion in the practice of physics.
Gender balance in decision-making bodies
This year, over 500 participants from 70 countries took part. The conference highlighted the role of physical education and issues of access and equity in the classroom and evaluated practices in physics through an intersectional lens. Several resolutions came out of this year’s edition.
A major resolution that was taken was to maintain a gender balance in decision-making bodies. “Countries like Thailand and Myanmar are known to have more women in science than men according to the latest UN report, and it would certainly be interesting to explore practices in these countries,” say Vandana Nanal and Srubabti Goswani from Gender in Physics Working Group, co-organizers of this year’s conference.
Links with other disciplines
The Women in Physics (WIP) working group has been established in 1999 to survey the situation of women in physics, to report to the IUPAP Council and Liaison Committees and to suggest recommendations for improvements.
Initially, the IUPAP WIP working group had members from only three continents, but today all geographic continents are represented to embrace a wider cultural spectrum and a rich field of cooperation, says Lilia Meza Montes, Vice Chair of the WIP working group. The working group has established links with unions from different disciplines, giving rise to multidisciplinary actions around the world such as the project, A global approach to the gender gap in mathematical, computer and natural sciences.
IUPAP celebrated its centennial in 2022 and continues to develop and expand its global reach with other initiatives beyond WIP. IUPAP was the driving force behind the declaration of the International Year of Basic Science for Sustainable Development by the United Nations.