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2002 General Assembly of the International Union of Pure and Applied Physics (IUPAP): Resolution No. 5

Summary Resolution on Enhancing the Role of Women in Physics


Physics plays a key role in understanding the world we live in, and physicists contribute strongly to the welfare and economic development of nations. The knowledge and problem-solving skills of physicists are essential in many professions and industries and to society at large. To thrive in today's fast-changing, technological world, every country must achieve a highly educated population of women and men, fully engaged in making decisions important to their well being. Knowledge of physics is thus an important part of general literacy for every citizen. In addition, advancing physics understanding is an exciting intellectual challenge that benefits from the diverse and complementary approaches taken by both women and men from many cultures.

Women can and do contribute to this quest and, through physics, to the welfare of humankind, but only in small numbers: women are an underutilized intellectual reserve. Only when women participate fully as researchers in the laboratory, as scientific leaders and teachers, and as policy makers will they be equal partners in a technological society. Studies by Governments, Academies, major Universities, and many Physical Societies have shown that this is not the case today.

To examine the problem, and make recommendations on its amelioration, IUPAP convened an International Conference on Women in Physics. It took place in Paris, France, 7-9 March 2002, and was attended by over 300 physicists from 65 countries. The conferees examined the issues in depth and generated a set of resolutions aimed at establishing fully equal opportunity for success in physics independent of gender.


The members of IUPAP, believing that it is important to physics to bring more women into its mainstream and leadership, endorse the resolutions adopted unanimously by the first International Conference on Women in Physics. Specifically, IUPAP urges that:

  1. Primary and Secondary Schools should have policies and procedures that give the same opportunities and encouragement to the study of physics by girls and boys
  2. Colleges and Universities should:
    1. ensure that their policies and procedures give female and male students equal opportunities for success, and
    2. ensure that their policies and procedures are such that female and male faculty and staff are, through transparent policies, treated with equity with respect to recruitment, promotion,teaching schedules, research facilities, and roles in governance.
  3. Research Institutes and Industry should ensure that policies are adopted and enforced regarding gender equity in recruitment and promotion to all levels.
  4. Scientific and Professional Societies should foster gender equity by having an identified group examining policies and procedures, making available statistics on the participation of women in physics at all levels, identifying leading women physicists and promoting them as role models, including women on program committees and as speakers at meetings and conferences, and including women in society governance.
  5. National Governments should ensure that women have the same access and opportunity as men in research and advanced teaching, that women are included on national planning and review committees, and that funds are awarded only to organizations that have policies of gender equity.
  6. Funding Agencies should ensure that there is no gender bias in the broad based general grant funding process, that competitions are open and widely publicized, that criteria for funding are clear, and that women are included on review and decision making committees. Limits on age of eligibility or grant duration that seriously disadvantage applicants taking family leave should be reconsidered. Statistics should be made available giving by gender the proportion of successful applicants.
  7. All Institutions should note that family oriented policies and practices such as flexible work schedules, opportunities for dual career families, and the availability of child care facilities have been demonstrated to increase the opportunities for Women in all fields of science and technology. All institutions should reexamine their practices in this area.

It is further resolved that IUPAP's Liaison Committees will transmit the report of the Conference on Women in Physics and the above resolution to their Adhering Bodies, and that the Secretariat will transmit it to other Scientific Unions and International Organizations. Further, the proceedings of the International Conference on Women in Physics should be made known and widely available.

The General Assembly recommends that Adhering Bodies appoint women to Liaison Committees, that gender be a consideration in nominations to Commissions and the Council, and expects that IUPAP sponsored conferences have women as members of their program committees.

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