Student’s impressions of the gender imbalance in physics

Undergraduate students at the ANU were surveyed regarding the gender imbalance in physics. The online survey conducted during semester 2, 2012, involving 65 physics students, and was part of a self-directed research project for SCOM3003 ‘Special topics in science communication’.

The survey contained questions relating to the student’s decision to study physics, their perception of the gender in imbalance in physics, the appearance of physicists in fiction, and their developing impressions of physicists and outsider’s beliefs about the field.

The collected responses revealed that the gap in gender numbers was thought to be the result of females experiencing discouragement during their education, differences in their study preferences, the existence of a male dominated field, limited career prospects and biological variation between the sexes. The research indicates that a student’s environment plays a critical role in influencing their perceptions of science, themselves and their ability to succeed in the field of physics.

The results of this study are currently being reviewed for potential publication and more details will be released once the review process has been finalised. If participants would like to discuss the research further please contact Alana Pascoe at

Thank you to all the participants for their invaluable contributions.

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