Girls in Physics pilot

On Monday 1st April, we held our first SfL Girls in Physics drop-in session at the Institute of Physics (IOP). This was a pilot session, designed to test the viability of running these sessions regularly next term and beyond. The aim of the sessions, which are supported by Islington Council, is to reduce the gender gap at A level physics by giving girls an empowering, encouraging working environment to grow their confidence, making sure they feel like they can choose A level physics if they want to. All the young people who were invited are currently studying for their GCSEs at Islington state schools, and they were nominated by their teachers.

When they arrived at the IOP, we welcomed the young people and asked them to fill in a quick survey to reflect on their priorities for the session and to reflect on their confidence, attitude and enjoyment when it comes to physics compared with their other subjects. Their answers are striking - whilst it seems that most of them do as well as or better in physics compared with other subjects (and they enjoy physics too!), most of them are less confident when it comes to physics. This is why we think these sessions are so important.

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At the pilot session there were a variety of different ‘Physics Mentors’ of different ages and different backgrounds to help the young people out. There were members of staff from the IOP education team, lots of whom had taught in schools previously, and there were also a group of undergraduate students who are studying physics at UCL and Imperial.

Every single young person who attended fed back that they wanted to attend future sessions, and they all said they felt “encouraged“ by attending, so we will endeavour to run several next term and hopefully continue next academic year. In more good news, attending the session seems to have had a positive effect on many of the young people’s confidence in physics:

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We hope to expand this project to include more young people from more local schools, and eventually to also run sessions for A level students.

Written by Carole Kenrick with help from Hannah, who is helping out with and taking part in this project

Carole Kenrick