Cardiff lecturer strives to tackle gender inequality in physics
15 July 2021
A Cardiff physics lecturer has been selected to represent the UK at a global conference focussed on Women in Physics, following her important role as an ambassador in the field.
Wendy Sadler, lecturer at Cardiff University School of Physics and Astronomy was selected as part of a UK team to attend the important (online) international conference - the 7th IUPAP International Conference on Women in Physics, held on 11-16th July this year.
The International Union of Pure and Applied Physics (IUPAP) is the only international physics organization that is organized and run by the physics community itself. Founded in 1922, its members are identified physics communities in countries or regions around the world.
The IUPAP has recognised a particular need to foster the participation of women in physics and make a difference in the physics community, and it’s for these reasons they established the important International Conference on Women in Physics.
A truly international event, the conference included over 55 countries, uniting to discuss challenges surrounding women in Physics today.
Sadler told us:
“As part of the conference, I was working on global recommendations for encouraging women into physics with physicists from Madagascar and Nigeria. It is really fascinating and inspiring to meet such phenomenal women!
During the event, I presented a poster about the issues and initiatives currently in the UK, and another relating to the research I did with The Open University regarding encouraging girls to consider careers in science.
Sadler’s presentation was entitled ‘People like me: encouraging girls to see themselves in STEM careers’.
People Like Me is an intervention activity for 11-16 year old girls developed by the WISE (Women into Science and Engineering) Campaign to support the increase of women and girls into STEM education and careers. As such it sits in a long tradition of efforts - in the UK and globally - to tackle gender inequality in the study of STEM subjects.
At the core is the concept that raising awareness of the range of possible careers and jobs in STEM will encourage girls to continue with studying science subjects in school, and to aspire to careers in these sectors.
The People Like Me project uses a novel approach of focusing not on what scientists and engineers do, but on what kind of people they naturally are. The girls at the sessions take a quiz to assess their natural strengths and characteristics, and then connect these to potential role models.
Amazingly, it was found that 57% of girls were more interested in studying STEM subjects after this gender-based, skills focused careers intervention.
Sadler was selected to represent the UK at the 7th IUPAP International Conference on Women in Physics as part of The Institute of Physics’ (IOP) delegation led by Professor Sally Jordan of The Open University.
This was largely owing to the outstanding work she had delivered for Cardiff University physics on their Project Juno Champion award.
Her Project Juno work was so crucial as it ‘recognises and rewards departments and schools of physics, institutes and organisations that have taken action to address gender equality in physics and to encourage best practice for all staff’.
Moreover it was particularly poignant as Cardiff University School of Physics and Astronomy was the first in Wales to be awarded Juno Champion status.
Looking to the future, Sadler, also part of the Welsh Government Women in STEM board, has said:
“I am excited to be helping shape the recommendations that will be used globally on Women in STEM from the discussions held and hope I can present the learning to the Welsh Government Women in STEM board so we can also benefit directly here in Wales”.