Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Dark Matter & Ceiling Shatter

New Scientiest writer Anil Ananthaswamy interviews the first woman to head a particle physics experiment at the Large Hadron Collider at CERN in Switzerland. Fabiola Gianotti, also an artist and musician, says:

CERN is such a rich environment: there are people from all over the world, young students work with established scientists and Nobel prizewinners. So geographical origin, age and gender make no difference here. I don't feel there is anything special about a woman leading a big scientific project. On the other hand, I hope that as a woman scientist who has achieved a level of visibility in a big experiment like ATLAS, I can be an encouragement to young women who are thinking of a scientific career.

Indeed, Ms. Gianotti is an inspiration to women in science, particularly physics, and as previously noted in "Written Word for Nerd", Natalie Angier reports that 26 percent of full professors in the life sciences are women, but in physics, 6 percent. She continues:
For many female physicists, the mystery of women’s slow progress through their ranks is nearly as baffling as the research mysteries they confront in the lab. Of course, only 6 percent of physics professors are female; only 4 to 6 percent of the matter in the universe is visible. “Sound familiar?” Evalyn Gates, the assistant director of the Kavli Institute for Cosmological Physics at the University of Chicago, said wryly.
You can read the entire interview here!


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