The History of the 2nd International Conference on Women in Physics
At the 1999 IUPAP General Assembly, the concern was raised that women are
greatly under-represented in the field of physics in most countries.
Recognizing that all fields of science progress most rapidly when they
draw from the complete available pool of talented people, the participants
of the General Assembly passed a resolution to form a Working Group on Women
The Working Group planned a three day International Conference on Women in
Physics that was held at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris, France, from March 7 to 9,
2002. The results of this conference were presented at the IUPAP General Assembly
in October 2002. The IUPAP International Conference on Women in Physics brought
together more than 300 participants, about 15 percent of them men, from 65 countries
to review data, discuss barriers, share success stories, propose ways to improve
participation globally, develop resolutions for action by the IUPAP General Assembly,
and help international teams develop appropriate strategies to improve the status
of women in physics in their home countries.
Since 2005 is the International Year of Physics, the IUPAP working group together
with Prof. Elisa Saitovitch, former president of the Brazilian Physical Society,
decided to organize with the support of the IUPAP Working Group on Women in Physics
a second conference in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Purpose of the Conference
It is widely acknowledged that the global scientific workforce is under-utilizing a
large percentage of the available talent pool. Although the situation differs widely
from country to country, there is a remarkable consistency in one sobering pattern:
the percentage of women in physics, physical sciences and engineering in all countries
decreases markedly with each step up the academic ladder and with each level of
promotion in industrial and governmental laboratories.
To address these issues, the First IUPAP International Conference on Women in Physics
was held in Paris, France, from March 7 to March 9, 2002. The primary purpose of that
event was to understand the severe under-representation of women in physics worldwide and
to develop strategies that would increase women's participation in this field.
In addition to organizing the conference, the IUPAP Working Group on Women in Physics
performed an international benchmarking study on issues concerning women in physics.
Demographic information on education and career attainment was collected from countries
in all parts of the world and was analyzed by professional statisticians. This material
and the results of the discussions at the conference were published in the proceedings,
and are available at
Three years past that event, the Second IUPAP International Conference on Women in Physics
was called to analyze the progress that had been made and to check which strategies had
been successful in bringing and keeping women in physics. Besides serving as a checking
point of the progress, this conference served as an opportunity to share experiences and
lessons learned in the last three years by each participating country.
In addition, the Second IUPAP International on Women in Physics brought something new.
To further stimulate scientific interactions between physicists across the world, a new
session for sharing each participant;s scientific development was added to the conference