Peter Main, Institute of Physics and Department of Physics, King’s College London
Opening Doors to Physics: Gender and Social Status
Physics is one of the least diverse of all subjects in universities. It is 80% male and most of the students come from the higher social classes. University physics departments are often criticised for failing to broaden their entry but, in fact, 98% of students who achieve physics and maths A-level, the entry requirement for physics programmes, attend university anyway, the vast majority to pursue courses that build upon their physics in some way. Consequently, efforts to increase the diversity of entry have to begin at a much lower age. The lecture will explore the reasons why girls and students from families with low socio-economic status do not study physics beyond the compulsory phase and why most of the efforts made to date to change that situation have failed. Most of those efforts start from the premise that, if only such students are exposed to more and more science, they will see the error of their ways and choose science subjects. The emphasis here will be to look instead at where the barriers are - they are different for the two cases - and to suggest some novel ways of overcoming them. Although the issues of gender stereotyping and social disadvantage are approached from a physics perspective, the lecture should be of interest to anyone interested in widening participation, educational opportunity and/or gender issues.
Starts Nov 9, 2015 14:00
Ends Nov 9, 2015 16:00
King's College, London, UK
Lucas Lecture Theatre