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Women in ATLAS: Are we there yet?. Pauline Gagnon, Indiana University/CERN. Outline. Statistics from the ATLAS Collaboration Global trends in physics in the world What remains to be done?. CERN. CERN is an international particle physics laboratory (Geneva, Switzerland)

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  • Statistics from the ATLAS Collaboration
  • Global trends in physics in the world
  • What remains to be done?


  • CERN is an international particle physics laboratory (Geneva, Switzerland)
  • CERN hires about 2800 people, mostly technical and administrative staff + 1000 fellows and students
  • About 11,600 physicists from 69 different countries come to participate in the research
  • ATLAS is 1 in 6 experiments on the Large Hadron Collider

ATLAS Collaboration

Status as of October 2012

  • 38 countries
  • 170 institutions
  • 1952 scientific authors:
    • 389 women
    • 19.9% women
    • Was 15.6% in 2008
age distribution for atlas authors october 2012
Age distribution for ATLAS authorsOctober 2012
  • below the age of 36:
    • 50% of all women; 33% of all men
  • below the age of 50:
    • 83% of all women; 70% of all men
  • of all ATLAS authors below 30:
    • 30% are women

Many young women are joining ATLAS

percentages of women in atlas by affiliation and nationality
Percentages of women in ATLAS by affiliation and nationality
  • % of ATLAS members – by affiliation
    • 271 people hired by German institutes out of 1952 total: 13,9%
    • This only gives an idea about statistical significance
  • % of women by affiliation:
    • 56 women out of 271 people hired by German groups: 20,7%
  • % of women by nationality:
    • 41 German women out of 269 Germans in ATLAS: 15,2%
women on atlas per country of affiliation above atlas average in 2012
Women on ATLAS per country of affiliationabove ATLAS average in 2012

Using only countries with > 14 people; these countries = 54% of ATLAS

women on atlas per affiliation below atlas average in 2012
Women on ATLAS per affiliation below ATLAS average in 2012

Using only countries with > 14 people; these countries = 38% of ATLAS

  • Highest fractions of women per nationality:
    • Romania, Greece, Spain, Italy, Poland, Sweden, Turkey, France
  • Lowest fractions of women per affiliation or nationality:
    • Russia, Japan, Czech Republic, China, Austria
  • CERN is below the average with only 14.4% of women
    • 14 women out of 99 physicists
  • Some countries hire more women than % from this country
    • They are less successful at attracting women to physics:
    • USA, Germany, UK, France, Nederlands, Switzerland
  • Others hire less women than the % from this country
    • Italy, Japan, China, Greece, Canada
what is behind these statistics
What is behind these statistics?

High % of women

Romania, Greece, Turkey, UK, Spain, Poland, France, Italy

  • Historically low or modest salaries
  • Are women there less seen as “stealing good jobs” from men?
  • Better recruitment efforts both with young girls and at hiring?

Very low % of women

  • In Japan, Austria, CERN
  • Was also the case for Germany and Switzerland in 2008
  • salaries are higher

Also very low % of women

in Russia or Czech Republic but salaries are not high there so there are other factors contributing

appointed task in atlas 2008 12 19 2 fraction of women in atlas 19 9
Appointed task in ATLAS 2008-12: 19.2% fraction of women in ATLAS = 19.9%

Good representation given the age distribution of women;

Average women usually don’t stay in the field

responsibilities by gender in atlas 2000 12 of women per cumulative person year
Responsibilities by gender in ATLAS (2000-12)% of women per cumulative person year

“Executive” tasks

“Physics” tasks

Women used to be appointed mostly as group conveners and on committees (administrative tasks)

Now women are also found in top management and project leaders positions

what can be drawn on gender balance
What can be drawn on gender balance?

On the bright side: good representation

  • Fraction of women is increasing in ATLAS:
    • was 15.6% in 2008, now at 19.9%
    • many young women in the pipeline
  • Good representation of women now in

all categories of appointed positions

    • concentrated in physics and committees up to 2008
    • now also in executive tasks (management, project leaders etc)
    • FabiolaGianotti, first female spokesperson of a major collaboration


ATLAS spokesperson

so are we there yet
So are we there yet?
  • Representation (i.e. fraction of women in the field) is only one aspect
  • Are women’s careers as good as men’s careers?

This is really where we still have a lot to gain

The following information was taken from a talk given by Rachel Iviefrom the American Institute of Physics at IUPAP Women in Physics 4th meeting held in April 2011 in South Africa


third survey from american institute of physics
Third Survey from American Institute of Physics

Purposes of Survey

  • Ensure comparability across countries
  • Show whether women physicists’ experiences are different from men’s

Third survey was translated into all official UN languages

  • German
  • Japanese
  • English
  • French
  • Russian
  • Arabic
  • Chinese
  • Spanish
survey was widely distributed
Survey was widely distributed

Web survey

  • Team leaders from Seoul conference were asked to distribute to their contacts via e-mail
  • Survey itself contained instructions to forward to colleagues
  • American Physical Society and German Physical Society distributed it to their membership.
  • Open from Oct. 2009to Oct.2010
participation in various activities
Participation in various activities

Women are disfavored statistically significantly

do you have enough resources
Do you have enough resources?

On all accounts, women are significantly disadvantaged

has your career changed your personal life marriage children
Has your career changed your personal life (marriage, children…)?

10% more women said “yes” than men

compared to your colleagues how quickly have you progressed in your career
Compared to your colleagues, how quickly have you progressed in your career?

Fathers are advantaged while

mothers answered “slower” twice as often

who is responsible for the majority of housework
Who is responsible for the majority of housework?

Women answered “me” twice as often

Men answered “my spouse” 10 times more

did your employer assign to you less challenging work when you became a parent
Did your employer assign to you lesschallenging work when you became a parent?

3 times more women said yes than men

should we conclude more women but same old deal how are the women at cern addressing this
Should we conclude:

More women but same old deal?

How are the women at CERN addressing this?

some activities of the cern women
Some activities of the CERN women

The ATLAS women’s group (with other women at CERN)

  • Purpose: create a network of women, a place to meet other women and exchange ideas, break isolation
  • Activities:
    • Created a mailing list to exchange information
    • Met once a week for lunch at the cafeteria (stopped 2 years ago)
    • Identify and support women running for diverse positions
    • Contributed to 2 workshops to draw young women to science
    • Raised funds to bring 2 Iranian women to CERN Summer School
    • Made a list of potential female lecturers for CERN Summer School
    • Organized a lab-wide event for March 8, 2010
cern summer school
CERN Summer School
  • 269 students from 71 countries, 27% female students
  • Lecturers during the Summer School
    • 4 women out of 22 lecturers in 2009
    • 2 women out of 22 lecturers in 2010
    • 4 women out of 28 lecturers in 2011
  • Reason given to us when we questioned the situation: the scheduling committee could not think of any women…
  • We provided a list of 218 qualified women on 33 different topicsafter asking women for input:
    • 7 women out of 31 lecturers in 2012

14% women

march 8 event at cern http cern ch internationalwomensday
March 8 event at CERNhttp://cern.ch/internationalwomensday/
  • We staffed the four large experiment and accelerator (LHC) control rooms with women
  • Did it for 2 shifts of 8 hours
  • Had posters about women at CERN and testimonies on website
  • Purpose was to show how much progress has been made and that there are now lots of women at CERN
  • We wanted a positive celebration to get everybody on board
  • Support from:
    • Director General Rolf Heuer
    • CMS Spokesperson Guido Tonelli
    • …but not from ATLAS Spokesperson FabiolaGianotti
doomed if you do doomed if you don t
Doomed if you do, doomed if you don’t
  • Women in high positions may not wish to speak or support women’s initiatives, to avoid alienating their base
  • Guido Tonelli could only look good as a white male supporting this initiative full fledge
  • FabiolaGianottidid not want to appear as favoring a particular group (especially one she belonged to)
what s the best way to attract more women in physics
What’s the best way to attract more women in physics?

Great study by Zahra Hazari, Philip Sadler, Gerhard Sonnertand Marie-Claire Shanahan from PRiSE study


  • Students who pursue studies in physics need a strong “physics identity”:
    • Student must feel good at it
    • Students’ belief in their own abilities is extremely important.
    • Get reinforcement from peers, teachers, family etc.
  • This is true for both male and female students, but female students tend to believe in themselves less, contributing to the difficulties they can encounter in physics.
w hat helps build a strong physics identity
What helps build a strong “physics identity”
  • Students liked
    • Having opportunities for peer teaching
    • Receiving encouragement from teachers
    • Discussing in class about the benefits of being a scientist
  • Teachers should:
    • Discuss current and cutting-edge physics topics
    • Encourage student questions
    • Set up labs addressing students’ beliefs about the world
common strategies to encourage female students
Common strategies to encourage female students
  • Providing positive female science role models
  • Creating opportunities for collaborative group work
  • Discussing the lives of female scientists.

The PriSE study revealed that none of the above had an effect on strengthening “physics identity”

o nly one classroom experience mattered
Only one classroom experience mattered

The explicit discussion of under-representation of women in science.

  • Talking directly about the fact that there are few women in physics
  • Female students who had experienced these discussions in their high school classes had significantly stronger physics identities
  • These discussions had no impact on male students.
  • The number of women in ATLAS has clearly increased since 2008
    • Was 15.6% in 2008; now 19.9% women
    • This could reflect a general trend in physics in general
  • Discussing the poor representation of women in physics is the best way to attract more young women to the field
  • Women in ATLAS are in all positions
  • A worldwide study of 15000 physicists revealed a clear gender-based difference in access to opportunities
  • Our efforts are paying off but there is still plenty of room for feminist ideas in our field

“I will feel equality has arrived when we can elect to office women who are as incompetent as some of the men who are already there” (Maureen Reagan)