Six Hendrix Students Attend 2014 Women in Physics Conference

CONWAY, Ark. (January 22, 2014) – Six Hendrix students recently attended  the 2014 Conference for Undergraduate Women in Physics at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, La.

Student participants included:

  • Tessa Cook, a junior from Conway, Ark.
  • Ashley Hosman, a senior from Coalinga, Calif.
  • Angela Lamb, a freshman from Greenwood, Ark.
  • Emily Nichols, a junior from Fort Worth, Texas
  • Anna Pittman, a junior from Jonesboro, Ark.
  • Anna Reine, a senior from Harahan, La.

The students were accompanied by Hendrix physics professor Dr. Ann Wright.

The students were actively involved in panel discussions, poster sessions of undergraduate research, and professional development opportunities, Wright said. They also made contacts for future research opportunities and graduate school and experienced different points of view from women with a physics degree who have found careers in academia, in the business world, and in the government.

Currently, only about 20 percent of the students who earn a bachelor degree in physics in the United States are female, Wright said. While this number is distressingly low, it does represent a marked increase in the number of female physics graduates from 20 years ago. Research shows that gatherings such as this conference play a positive role in the retention of women in physics. For this reason, the National Science Foundation and the American Physical Society have arranged and sponsored a series of these conferences around the country.

This year was Ashley Hosman’s second time at the program . She helped to write the proposal for Odyssey funding to pay for travel to the 2014 conference.

“Last year I attended the Women in Physics Conference and found it to be very beneficial experience for multiple reasons. The experience that I gained by attending the conference was very influential to my education. It allowed me to bond with the female members of my department and be aware of the opportunities that can come from my major along with some insight to the hardships of being in a male dominated field,” she said.

“We, as women in physics, are going into a field dominated by male stereotypes that can be intimidating and are causing us to loss valuable female members in our field,” she continued. “The conference allowed me to better understand the hardships of the career paths before me and helped me realize that, though difficult, it is not impossible to earn and high standing career, have a family and kids, and still have a place in a work environment that isn’t accustom to a women’s touch.”

“It is a clear fact of life that women in the physics field are in short supply, but just by attending the conference and recognizing that a few does not mean nonexistence will provide strength to my pursuit of future physics endeavors as I continue to pursue my education even after I leave Hendrix,” she added. “Though I gained a lot from my experience last year, I know that by attending this conference again it will only present me with further insight to my possible future career and strengthen the bond between the female members in my field. We will all eventually have to stand alone in our career choices, which is why exposing ourselves to females in our fields will only help support us and remind us that we are not alone. Being an outsider in a field can be hard and disconcerting, but this conference reminds us that though we may not work with other women, other women are working in the same field as you, proving that you do indeed have a place in would otherwise seem to demand a male presence.” 

Founded in 1876, Hendrix College is a national leader in engaged liberal arts and sciences education. For the sixth consecutive year, Hendrix was named one of the country’s “Up and Coming” liberal arts colleges by U.S. News and World Report.  Hendrix is featured in the latest edition of Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think about Colleges, as well as the 2014 Princeton Review’s The Best 378 Colleges, Forbes magazine's list of America's Top Colleges, and the 2014 Fiske Guide to Colleges. Hendrix has been affiliated with the United Methodist Church since 1884. For more information, visit www.hendrix.edu