Is Physics Biased Based on Gender?

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In summary, the conversation discusses the representation of women in physics and the societal attitudes and support that contribute to the gender disparity. It also touches on the issue of discrimination and the belief that men inherently score higher in physics exams than women. The conversation also brings up personal experiences and struggles with pursuing a physics major as a female. It concludes with the idea that there is still a lingering belief that women are not as capable in science and are better suited for more traditionally "feminine" activities.
  • #1
laminatedevildoll
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Is it true that 99% of the time, males score higher in Physics exams than females? Is that why there's an abundance of male Physicists than female Physicists?
 
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  • #2
I highly doubt that percentage is THAT high. And this woudlnt be a basis of "discrimination". Its just statistical anomalies.
 
  • #3
Interesting article from "Symmetry" magazine on women in physics:

http://www.symmetrymagazine.org/cms/?pid=1000103
Representation of women in physics is increasing but still lags behind other fields. A new study assesses the participation of women in physics over time and around the world. The evidence supports the idea that societal attitudes and support for women play a major role in the gender disparity rather than any innate difference between men and women.
And here's a debate on "gender and science" from edge.org:

http://www.edge.org/3rd_culture/debate05/debate05_index.html
 
  • #4
JesseM said:
Interesting article from "Symmetry" magazine on women in physics:

http://www.symmetrymagazine.org/cms/?pid=1000103 And here's a debate on "gender and science" from edge.org:

http://www.edge.org/3rd_culture/debate05/debate05_index.html

All most all of my Physics professors are male; in fact, all of them. I am not saying that there's anything wrong with this, but the more I think about it, maybe there's some truth to what that Harvard professor was talking about. I see one or two women darting inside the Physics building, but that's about it. I think that my friends (females) don't have a lot of faith in me as a Physics major because they tell me facts like "99% of the time, males score higher in Physics exams than females" to make me change my major into something like Dance. I am convinced to stick to my major unless something goes seriously wrong. I have lost some friends over this. In fact, I refuse to hangout with anyone of them.
 
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  • #5
There is no discrimination. Either you can do the work or you can't. We have gone very far form the 60's with elliminating discramination so don't complain.
 
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  • #6
laminatedevildoll said:
All most all of my Physics professors are male; in fact, all of them. I am not saying that there's anything wrong with this, but the more I think about it, maybe there's some truth to what that Harvard professor was talking about. I see one or two women darting inside the Physics building, but that's about it. I think that my friends (females) don't have a lot of faith in me as a Physics major because they tell me facts like "99% of the time, males score higher in Physics exams than females" to make me change my major into something like Dance. I am convinced to stick to my major unless something goes seriously wrong. I have lost some friends over this. In fact, I refuse to hangout with anyone of them.
Yeah, ignoring people like that is probably the best thing you can do. As for the lack of female physics professors, to a large extent it's probably a generational thing, the number of women pursuing physics was a lot lower in the past than today--as that first article says, in the early 1970s only about 5% of physics Ph.D.s were earned by women, today it's up to about 18%, and hopefully it will continue to rise. The article also mentions that "Data from the United States indicate that once women have earned a bachelor's degree in physics, they are able to advance through the academic ranks at about the same rate as men. For example, retention rates during physics graduate school are about the same for US women and men. Women are represented on physics faculties at the rates we would expect given degree production in the past."
 
  • #7
DavidSmith said:
There is no discrimination. Either you can do the work or you can't. We have gone very far form the 60's with elliminating discramination so don't complain.

_______

I am earning hundreds of dollars a week completing simple online surveys. To get started, go here.

I wasn't complaining. I was just contemplating on the issue. If there is no discrimination today, then we must be living in a perfect society, which is clearly not the case.
 
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  • #8
laminatedevildoll said:
I think that my friends (females) don't have a lot of faith in me as a Physics major because they tell me facts like "99% of the time, males score higher in Physics exams than females" to make me change my major into something like Dance.

BOOM, there's your problem staring you right in the face. Theres still a very dumb little attitude going on that is actually fueled by females too that states women can't do well in science and that they should do "girly" activities such as dance. They use what i can only think of as highly exagerated statistics to try to convince you not to strive to achieve. I'm sure there are many other examples which people tell another group of people that they are inherintly unable to do something because of hteir gender, nationality, ethnicity, etc. I doubt there's any scientific data saying girls inherintly are unable to learn physics... so just don't listen to them. There going to end up as probably liberal arts majors lol or philosophy majors and be flipping burgers or being nurses or receptionists (last 2 have some dignity of course). You can't strive and achieve if you deem it impossible to do yourself.
 
  • #9
i noticed also in college that 99% of all males (and females) scored higher than me in physics, so any possible male superiority really doesn't do me any good personally.
 
  • #10
My friend, a girl, seems to know physics better then me. I now feel pathetic lol.
 
  • #11
Pengwuino said:
BOOM, there's your problem staring you right in the face. Theres still a very dumb little attitude going on that is actually fueled by females too that states women can't do well in science and that they should do "girly" activities such as dance. They use what i can only think of as highly exagerated statistics to try to convince you not to strive to achieve. I'm sure there are many other examples which people tell another group of people that they are inherintly unable to do something because of hteir gender, nationality, ethnicity, etc. I doubt there's any scientific data saying girls inherintly are unable to learn physics... so just don't listen to them. There going to end up as probably liberal arts majors lol or philosophy majors and be flipping burgers or being nurses or receptionists (last 2 have some dignity of course). You can't strive and achieve if you deem it impossible to do yourself.

So a more appropriate title would be "Do people discriminate Physics?" instead. What you say is very true. It's weird because you think you know your friends, but really you don't when you come to some disagreement. When I questioned them about where they got their statistics from, they got in my face. However, they can be very convincing too. A friend who was challenging me was in an intro to Physics class, and she dropped out of it, took Pass/Fail and changed her major from Math to Chicano Studies so that she wouldn't have to take any prereq Physics classes. I thought that that was such a dumb thing to do. And as for dance, if I were to double major in Physics with Dance instead of Math because my friend told me to, then is that considered to be well-roundeded? This is a silly question but... Do you think that Physicist/Dancer has dignity attached to it as opposed to a Physicist/Mathematician? What's more thrilling than running around in circles with maracas and rolling around with balloons to forest sounds? Heck, this girl is brain-washing me.
 
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  • #12
Pengwuino said:
My friend, a girl, seems to know physics better then me. I now feel pathetic lol.

It's funny how you did a total 180 with this post.

I agree with the people who say it's all a social problem. Science is still considered geeky, and nobody wants to be geeky. But they ALL want cool cell phones, instant pudding, and to be healthy. Sure there are differences between men and women, but they aren't nearly big enough to totally prevent all women from learning science & math. I'm trying to get my sister to like science more. I don't want to turn her into a physicist or anything (she doesn't like it THAT much :p) but make her at least comfortable with math and more importantly, make her think logically.

PL
 
  • #13
Well it was more of a joke. If the conception is that all men are incredible highly sophisticated thinking machines and all but 1 guy will triumph over all girls, then i feel sad seeing as how I am asken my friend for help lol.
 
  • #14
laminatedevildoll said:
And as for dance, if I were to double major in Physics with Dance instead of Math because my friend told me to, then is that considered to be well-roundeded? This is a silly question but... Do you think that Physicist/Dancer has dignity attached to it as opposed to a Physicist/Mathematician? What's more thrilling than running around in circles with maracas and rolling around with balloons to forest sounds? Heck, this girl is brain-washing me.

Its well-rounded by why do you care to be well-rounded? Consider that it'll take a lot away from your actual physics study. And what degrees you have don't create the dignity you have; its how you conduct yourself and what research you do... or at least it should. Physics seems to be a subject where the societal problems don't apply as much as other areas. If your a good researcher, you could be a public bed-wetter and you'd still carry dignity in the eyes of hte people who matter.
 
  • #15
I don't get how you can "major" in dance. Is it in performance? History, styles, etc? Both?

What kind of job can you get with that.

"Ok... why should we hire you to work at Microsoft?"
"I can dance."

PL
 
  • #16
I think it's just the fact that more male students chose the alpha sciences. Women have quasi equal talents. The top student in my graduation year at college was female, as well as the number two :)

marlon
 
  • #17
laminatedevildoll said:
And as for dance, if I were to double major in Physics with Dance instead of Math because my friend told me to, then is that considered to be well-roundeded? This is a silly question but... Do you think that Physicist/Dancer has dignity attached to it as opposed to a Physicist/Mathematician? What's more thrilling than running around in circles with maracas and rolling around with balloons to forest sounds? Heck, this girl is brain-washing me.
The thing about well-roundedness reminds me of something I read recently in a review of a book of letters that Richard Feynman wrote to people:
WHILE his spoken memoirs burnished the popular impression of Feynman as the merry prankster, the letters here imply he grew tired of that image. To a Swedish letter writer who had apparently suggested that playing the bongo drums made a physicist ''human,'' he replied: ''Theoretical physics is a human endeavor, one of the higher developments of human beings -- and this perpetual desire to prove that people who do it are human by showing that they do other things that a few other humans do (like playing bongo drums) is insulting to me. I am human enough to tell you to go to hell.''
 
  • #18
There is some discrimination in physics.
There are all kinds of prizes for the best female physicist of the year, best publication by a female. We have a Minerva-prize awarded to female scientists twice a year. This all help get more females into science in general and physics in particular.

I`m not complaining about this. It's a good initiative.
 
  • #19
Can somebody hunt for the almost-identical thread we had on this in here from a few months back? I'm having a deja vu feeling all over again...

Zz.
 
  • #20
A great thing for women in physics departments is the dressing code. No more time lost in front of the mirror, or shopping around for the best fitted dresses.
 
  • #21
arivero said:
A great thing for women in physics departments is the dressing code. No more time lost in front of the mirror, or shopping around for the best fitted dresses.

They have to go to work naked? :confused:

PL
 
  • #22
Poop-Loops said:
They have to go to work naked? :confused:

PL
:bugeye:

No, they just get used to dress as bad as their male colleagues do.

But if they (both sexes) were naked, for sure they could also avoid the long long hours of gym that people in some [semi-]naked dress codes seem to need.
 
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  • #23
laminatedevildoll,

the point of my post was it does not matter to me whether other men are good at physics or not, the only thing that matters to me are my own abilities.

as for you, even if you were the only female physics major in the world, so what? that would be a distinction, that you not only can cut it, but can cut it with little support and even some discouragement.

my childhood physician was an old woman who got maybe the first medical degree given a woman from vanderbilt med school, and they made her come to the side door to receive it, and would not let her sit on the stage. maybe they did not want to admit this woman was smarter than the rest of the men.


when my wife was taking premed courses some men told her they resented that smart women like her were taking slots in med school way from guys!

in med school several of the professors were downright rude and very discriminatory to her. eventually some of the worst actually came around.

now that she is a doctor she has repeatedly proven her abilities, not only at caring treatment, but at very astute (life saving) diagnostics, and also superior management. she has the whole package, and she does not discriminate.

on the other hand dancing is great too. I am not only a research mathematician, but a pool player, one time wrestler and meat lugger, ballroom dance instructor, acapella singer, and avid comic book collector (I have a first edition #1 "three musketeers", in the classic comics series).

[when i was a college instructor at some little school, my students were mind boggled when i stepped out of the crowd and actually won a game of one pocket from a pool playing professional, named Jack White, who used to tour the campus circuit.]

but when getting my phd i had to give up other pursuits at least temporarily, there just wasn't time for them. if you do not have time for a dance co major, you could still dance.

staying physically fit is helpful for doing research, as it gives you more stamina.

good luck, laminatedevildoll.
 
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  • #24
mathwonk said:
laminatedevildoll,

the point of my post was it does not matter to me whether other men are good at physics or not, the only thing that matters to me are my own abilities.

as for you, even if you were the only female physics major in the world, so what? that would be a distinction, that you not only can cut it, but can cut it with little support and even some discouragement.

my childhood physician was an old woman who got maybe the first medical degree given a woman from vanderbilt med school, and they made her come to the side door to receive it, and would not let her sit on the stage. maybe they did not want to admit this woman was smarter than the rest of the men.


when my wife was taking premed courses some men told her they resented that smart women like her were taking slots in med school way from guys!

in med school several of the professors were downright rude and very discriminatory to her. eventually some of the worst actually came around.

now that she is a doctor she has repeatedly proven her abilities, not only at caring treatment, but at very astute (life saving) diagnostics, and also superior management. she has the whole package, and she does not discriminate.

on the other hand dancing is great too. I am not only a research mathematician, but a pool player, one time wrestler and meat lugger, ballroom dance instructor, acapella singer, and avid comic book collector (I have a first edition #1 "three musketeers", in the classic comics series).

[when i was a college instructor at some little school, my students were mind boggled when i stepped out of the crowd and actually won a game of one pocket from a pool playing professional, named Jack White, who used to tour the campus circuit.]

but when getting my phd i had to give up other pursuits at least temporarily, there just wasn't time for them. if you do not have time for a dance co major, you could still dance.

staying physically fit is helpful for doing research, as it gives you more stamina.

good luck, laminatedevildoll.

Thank you for your words of encouragement mathwonk, I really appreciate it. Unfortunately, I am not cut out to be a dance major. It's great that you're into so many different things other than Math. As for me, I will just stick to Math/Physics in this lifetime.
 
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  • #25
arivero said:
:bugeye:

No, they just get used to dress as bad as their male colleagues do.

But if they (both sexes) were naked, for sure they could also avoid the long long hours of gym that people in some [semi-]naked dress codes seem to need.

The words "naked" and "Physics professors" evoke a very disturbing mental picture.
 
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  • #26
as for outside activites, i guess its a tossup between sowing your wild oats when you are young, poor, and energetic, or when you are old and well to do.

i certainly can see the advantages to beginning a career earlier, now that I am older and still far from retirement - capable.
 
  • #27
Pengwuino said:
I highly doubt that percentage is THAT high. And this woudlnt be a basis of "discrimination". Its just statistical anomalies.

There's just one problem, you're making sense. And that will get you into trouble in today's litigious environment.

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The Rev
 

Related to Is Physics Biased Based on Gender?

1. What is discrimination in physics?

Discrimination in physics refers to the unequal treatment of individuals based on their race, gender, or other personal characteristics in the field of physics. This can manifest in various ways, such as limited opportunities for certain groups or biases in hiring and selection processes.

2. Does discrimination exist in the field of physics?

Yes, discrimination in physics has been documented in various studies and reports. Women and people of color are often underrepresented in the field, and there have been instances of discriminatory behavior and unequal treatment reported by individuals.

3. How does discrimination impact the field of physics?

Discrimination can have a negative impact on the field of physics in several ways. It can limit the diversity of perspectives and ideas, leading to a lack of innovation and progress. It can also create a hostile and unwelcoming environment for those who are discriminated against, causing them to leave the field or not pursue careers in physics.

4. What is being done to address discrimination in physics?

Many organizations and institutions are actively working to address discrimination in physics. This includes implementing diversity and inclusion initiatives, providing training on unconscious bias, and promoting equal opportunities for underrepresented groups. There is also ongoing research and advocacy to raise awareness and address systemic issues within the field.

5. What can individuals do to combat discrimination in physics?

Individuals can play a crucial role in combatting discrimination in physics. This can include speaking out against discriminatory behavior, actively promoting diversity and inclusion, and supporting and mentoring underrepresented groups in the field. It is also important to educate oneself on issues of discrimination and work towards creating a more inclusive and equitable environment in physics.

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