Physics. Does the mere word strike fear into your heart? Or is it just a distant memory of something you once studied and dropped as quickly as you could. We reckon having a Brian Cox in the classroom would have got much more of us into that physics classroom. But if even the thought of the UK’s most famous physicist doesn’t stop you from feeling a little shudder, then you’re not alone. This is still the norm amongst girls and it’s not getting any better either. Girls taking physics beyond Year 10 is a real problem which needs to be tackled head-on so no more girls miss out on some amazing career opportunities.
The UK is crying out for people trained in the sciences, and although boys seem to have got the message and more are taking physics than they were a few years ago, girls are lagging way behind and still only account for 20% of those taking the subject. This is a real tragedy – let’s face it girls can easily do as well as boys – so why the lack of interest?
According to a recent report ‘It’s Different for Girls’ by The Institute of Physics it’s all down to the perception that this is a ‘boys’ subject among both girls and more shockingly schools themselves. It’s not helped that there just aren’t many promoted female role models either – where are the women?
As a result The Institute of Physics have launched a campaign to promote the subject to young girls and to help parents encourage and ask the right questions of their schools (and any prospective schools) who play an important part in getting girls engaged. It’s really unbelievable that in 2012 physics is often still put across by teachers as a subject for boys and many schools don’t actually have specialist teaching in the subject at all!
The exciting thing about physics is that you’re not condemned to the life of a white coated scientist as a physicist – unless of course you want to be. Inspiration comes in many surprising forms as demonstrated by professional poker player Liv Boeree when talking about how being a physicist has helped her get to the top of her career.
Who’d have thought a Masterchef winner was also a physician? Aki Matsushima has put her Physics degree to good use.
If you or anyone you know are making choices about studying then check out all the information on The Institute of Physics website.
Ask the right questions of schools armed with It’s Different for Girls: The Influence of Schools, or if you’re a teacher then there’s lots of information on how you can affect a change with their leaflet for teachers. Parents can also do their bit by helping to support the take-up of A-level physics by girls.
It’s different for girls, yes, but it should also be equal.
Main photo: Girls Doing Science
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