For most undergraduate women studying physics, they’ll likely experience being one of just a few women—if not the only one—in the classroom. Faculty and student leaders from the physics departments at Ithaca College and Cornell University recently joined forces to host the 2023 American Physical Society (APS) Conference for Undergraduate Women in Physics (CUWiP), designed to inspire and empower the next generation of female physicists.
According to the APS, while the number of female-identifying students earning bachelor’s degrees in STEM programs has been steadily on the rise, just 25 percent of physics degrees conferred in 2020 went to female students — the smallest percentage of any of the physical science fields.
To combat this underrepresentation, CUWiP was established at the University of Southern California in 2006. In the years since, APS took national ownership of the program and the conference has evolved to provide female-identifying undergraduate physics students with the opportunity to network with successful female physicists, attend panel discussions on life in the industry and plenary talks on cutting-edge research, present poster presentations of their research, and connect with peers from other institutions.
Held simultaneously at regional sites around the country the weekend of January 20–22, the Ithaca area CUWiP encompassed both the Ithaca College and Cornell University campuses. Programming took place at Cornell on Friday and Saturday, and the conference culminated on South Hill on Sunday. Through lab tours, professional development workshops, and alumni speakers, the conference also served as a chance to highlight Ithaca College’s physics and astronomy department to the 150 undergraduate students who attended from around New York State.
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