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Why don't more females study Physics, how could we change things, and should we?

(11 Posts)
ElbowPatches Wed 26-Apr-17 19:24:43

Hello everyone,

I'm a Physics teacher and I'm concerned by the fact that only about 20% of Physics students (at A level and undergraduate) are women, and this has remained the same for about 25-30 years.

I'd appreciate it if you could follow this link:

to fill out a short survey for me. It should take less than 10 minutes, maybe more if you have a lot to say on the issue. If you have any suggestions about how to phrase the questions differently then please do reply and discuss in this thread.

Many thanks for any responses,


AppleAndBlackberry Wed 26-Apr-17 19:45:59

I'm on to the 3rd or 4th question, but I wasn't discouraged from studying physics, there doesn't seem to be an option for that so I'm not sure how to answer. I actually took Physics A-level but then did a different STEM degree. Maybe I'm not the right audience? Also there's a kind of assumption in the questions that Physics is hard, I don't think that's everyone's experience.

M0stlyBowlingHedgehog Wed 26-Apr-17 19:53:54

Filled in! (As a theoretical physicist who works in research, I may have skewed your stats a bit grin).

But well done for looking into this. My feeling is that the rot sets in really early - primary school level.

justdontevenfuckingstart Wed 26-Apr-17 19:59:30

DD2 started Physics A level then dropped it because the math element is needed to back it up. She was the only one not doing math too and struggled.

CMOTDibbler Wed 26-Apr-17 20:06:10

I filled it in, but I'm a medical physicist so might skew things again! I agree that a generalised rot sets in against physics from an early age - poor science teaching at primary, the casual 'ooh, science is hard' comments, and poor secondary physics teaching

allegretto Wed 26-Apr-17 20:13:34

I got to the question about A levels and it started again from the beginning!

senua Wed 26-Apr-17 20:27:52

What apple&blackberry said. It's all a bit negative.

M0stlyBowlingHedgehog Wed 26-Apr-17 20:30:19

On Apple's point, you might benefit from talking to a social scientist about questionnaire design - it's actually quite a specialised (and difficult) thing to get right, you have to be quite careful not to write leading questions. It did come across as a survey written with the expectation of getting certain answers.

gleegeek Wed 26-Apr-17 20:33:23

Completed! I think single sex science classes would help.

CaulkheadNorth Wed 26-Apr-17 20:40:20

I found it interesting to complete.

I got 8% in my physics gcse...

Emphasise Wed 26-Apr-17 20:47:59

I was one of only 3 girls in my Physics O-level class (that dates me, it was 1986) and the only girl in my physics A Level class. I really thought things would have moved on by now, but it seems not.I didn't realise it at the time, but I did it because my dad was an engineer and always behaved as if it was a perfectly normal field to go into, never occurred to me that it was an unusual thing for girls to be interested in until I was already hooked.

I work in a primary school now and far too many dads talk of their daughters as princesses and have very low expectations of them (compared to their sons) IMO, things seem to have gone backwards.

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