Evaluating and exploring a professional conference for undergraduate women in physics: Can one weekend make a difference?

Gayle A. Buck, Mary Mills, Jianlan Wang, Xinying Yin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Female under-representation in science has been a topic of discussion and research within the science education community for several decades. Despite this, females continue to be underrepresented in physics education and careers. Although women opt out of physics at every stage of the professional ladder, one area of particular concern is the undergraduate years. The fraction of women who choose to study physics at the university level declines from freshmen to senior levels. A group of faculty from across the United States has sought to address this concern, in part, by organizing an annual conference for undergraduate women in physics. Pre-/post-questionnaires and focus group interviews were used to gather the experiences of 363 of the conference participants (56% response rate) to determine the impact of such an experience, as well as how the various aspects of the experience fostered or hindered this impact. The findings demonstrate that such an experience can make a positive impact, as well as provide facilitators of similar professional meetings with understandings on how to design women in science experiences. In addition, the voices of these young women offer insights into the contemporary needs of female undergraduates in physics.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)359-377
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Women and Minorities in Science and Engineering
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2014


  • Astronomy
  • Conferences
  • Minority women
  • Physics
  • STEM
  • Science
  • Undergraduate education


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