BYU Women in Physics Students Thrive at CUWiP

This year, 20 students and two staff members from Brigham Young University’s Department of Physics and Astronomy traveled to Santa Cruz, California for a Conference for Undergraduate Women in Physics (CUWiP). This annual conference was held in 14 locations around the US. Women in physics from all over the country gathered for three days to participate in a professional conference experience and receive information on graduate school and careers. The event was also an opportunity to connect with other women in physics, sharing experiences, advice, and ideas. BYU students presented research posters and talks.

Of the 20 BYU students that attended, five gave presentations, with two of them winning prizes for exceptional methodology and visuals. Aria, one of the winning presenters explains, “It was really helpful to talk with the professors about their career path. I have pondered what mine might look like because I would love to have a career, but I would also love to have a family, but I’m not sure how that is going to balance out. It was really nice to see their perspective and experience and see some ways that you can navigate family and career.” Learning about work-life balance in a physics career makes the CUWiP an invaluable experience.

Events such as the Conference for Undergraduate Women in Physics provide support for female students in an environment where they are underrepresented. The Daily Universe reported in 2021, “The National Center for Education Statistics found that 36.1% of those who receive an undergraduate degree in STEM majors in the United States are women. There is a difference in the data as BYU’s data includes graduate level work and the national level data does not. However, BYU still falls short with only 24.1% of STEM graduates being female.” The goal of these women’s conferences is to help those interested in physics remain and thrive. Participation in these conferences is one way that BYU supports minorities in STEM fields. The Conference for Undergraduate Women in Physics, and similar opportunities for networking, may play a key role in resolving the gender discrepancies in the field of physics.

McArthur, A. (2021, February 12). Where is BYU on female enrollment in STEM majors? The Daily Universe. Retrieved April 11, 2023, from https://universe.byu.edu/2021/02/09/where-is-byu-on-female-enrollment-in-stem-majors/.

Written by Collin Bradford, Aria Stevens, Alex Gallion, Isaiah Galland, Kendall Mitchell

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