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Thanks to Glennda Chui, I noticed a piece in the CERN Courier,Les femmes du LHC,” which interviews ten female members of the Large Hadron Collider project. For example, the dark-matter researcher Fabiola Gianotti is deputy spokesperson for the ATLAS collaboration (and a pianist who studied at the Conservatorio Giuseppe Verdi). Of being a woman in physics, she says,

Physics is, unfortunately, often seen as a male subject; sterile and without charm or emotion. But this is not true, because physics is art, aesthetics, beauty and symmetry. Women have obstacles in the field for merely social reasons. Research does not allow you to make life plans. And the difficulties for women with a family are many. Something should be done, for instance, to develop more structures that would enable women with children to go through a physics career without too many obstacles, starting with nursery schools.

And Gilda Scioli, an experimentalist from the University of Bologna, comments thusly on why physics is a male-heavy profession:

Because being a researcher is not an easy profession for women. What we do can only be done here. But if I had a small child and an experiment to do, what should I do? Do I say good-bye to everybody, leave for a year and ask my husband to breast-feed the baby?

Meanwhile, Seth Zenz explains what it’s like to be a grad student at CERN. (Hint: a stipend is like a salary for small values of N.) To make the task of cheap recreation easier, Tom Swanson has created Crackpot Bingo, to be played during those talks which turn out to be, shall we say, less than rigorous.

One Comment

  1. “Research does not allow you to make life plans.”

    This should be a problem for men too… but perhaps what men mean by “life” is somewhat different.