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Lucie de Nooij | NIKHEF | The Netherlands

View Blog | Read Bio

Powerchick II

The question whether it is a problem that there are fewer women than men in physics, is very subjective. Even only asking the question raises a paradox. It suggests that there should be more equality, namely better emancipation would lead to more women in technical professions. But to achieve this equality you need to treat girls differently from boys, which contradicts to the aim for more equality. In response to my last blog, Zoe writes: “I was told by one university that ‘entry requirements won’t matter because you are a girl’ “. Nobody feels better if you are accepted for other reasons than your relevant capabilities for the application.
In another response to my blog (on email), my mother sarcastically notes: says: “more women in physics, less women in justice”. This makes me realize that the discussion physics is not the only branch where the fraction of men and women is out of balance. In the Netherlands, more than half of the judges are female. Recently a member of parliament argued that punishments were become less strict due to this effect (see the picture). Apparently crime is perceived differently by men than women. In Dutch universities the female medicine students outnumber their male colleagues grandiosely. This is considered a problem, because all these doctors will want to work part-time and nobody will be able to care of the baby-boomers when they grow old.
Personally I think if people are pushed to make a certain important decision, they will reconsider. You cannot make a girl finish her physics bachelor and you cannot force the successful male attorney to become a judge. In the Netherlands the publicity for physics had become from mildly biased to downright unfair: what is my head doing on the master of physics poster? (I like my head, of course, don’t get me wrong) In the little booklet five of six interviewed students are girls. This makes future students skeptical: “they seem to want to prove something”.
I think everybody benefits from honesty. Male and female.

Translation: (above) "Fokke en Sukke so not understand Eerdmans" (left) "Women cannot punish tough enough?!" (right) "I don't think that guy is married!"

Translation: (above) "Fokke en Sukke do not understand Eerdmans" (left) "Women cannot punish tough enough?!" (right) "I don't think that guy is married!"

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