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Help increase the number of young people choosing physics

A major piece of work within our new strategy is our new influencing campaign to increase the number of young people from underrepresented groups in our society who pursue physics post-16.

A very important part of the influencing campaign will be describing the different reasons why younger people are deterred from studying physics. To help with this, we are collecting stories from the physics community, and are reaching out to members to hear your lived experiences.


In September 2019, members and staff gathered in a workshop to decide the focus of IOP’s new campaign in support of our strategy, 'Unlocking the Future'. After identifying a number of issues, and much discussion, participants decided to prioritise the following key challenge:

“Our physics community doesn’t reflect the society it’s in.”

This is of course a problem with a number of causes and we will need to address all of them if we are to significantly increase diversity in our community. 

Unfortunately, one of the causes is that we live in a world where some young people are denied opportunities, due to bias, prejudice and discrimination.

These structural barriers and attitudes not only hold back individuals but also reduce the diversity of experiences, perspectives and ideas within the physics community.

So, we will be campaigning to increase the number of young people from under-represented groups in our society who pursue physics from age 16. No young person should feel that physics is not for them, for any reason, but especially not because of their ethnicity, gender identity, disability, sexual orientation or socioeconomic background, which will all be key aspects of our campaign.

And our campaign will be complemented by another important programme of work that will address the challenges that deter people who do choose to pursue physics from joining our community and remaining in it.

So how can you help?

A very important part of the influencing campaign will be describing the different reasons why younger people are deterred from studying physics.

To help with this we are collecting stories from the physics community and are reaching out to members to hear your lived experiences.

We appreciate that many of you will have had to overcome challenges to pursue physics, and we would be especially grateful if you would share your experiences with us. For example:

  • Did anyone in your family or school discourage you from studying physics?
  • Did you encounter negative perceptions and misconceptions about physics or physicists?
  • Were you told physics wasn’t for the likes of you?
  • And we would like to know what would you tell your younger self now?

No story is too large or small and we are happy to use stories anonymously or for them to be attributed to you. We understand that it may be upsetting to relive such memories and are therefore especially grateful to anyone wishing to share them with us, in any way.

What stories do we want?

Due to the scope of our campaign, we are only looking for experiences:

  • that happened to you before the age of 16; and
  • that happened in the UK or Ireland.

Contact

If you have a story to share, please contact campaigns@iop.org.