Culture, history and society
Women in Physics Group
This is an IOP special interest group, which is a community of IOP members focused on a particular discipline, application or area of interest.
Special interest groups allow members to connect and share knowledge and ideas. The IOP funds groups to deliver a range of activities including events, prizes and bursaries. All of our groups are driven by members.
About the group
As a special interest, member-driven group, we encourage group members to participate in the IOP’s activities and support career progress with professional development.
We reflect the varied careers of women physicists in:
What the group does
Our current interests include:
- career breaks
- career management workshops
- networking in the UK and Europe
- education at primary, secondary and tertiary level
- women in research and academia – especially those on short-term contracts
We welcome new members and suggestions for future events. Come and join us to contribute to our discussions.
Socialise, network and find out more about our group on Facebook.
What does it mean to be a member of the group?
- part of community
- visibility and access to tailored resources and opportunities
- attend events and share relevant resources and events with your network
What does it mean to be a member of the committee?
- volunteer to organise and support committee
- represent and advocate WiP and diversity to IOP as a whole
- run tailored events throughout the year
Jocelyn Bell Burnell Medal and Prize
This award was established as a Women in Physics Group Prize in 2007 and was originally known as the Very Early Career Female Physicist Award. In 2016 Council incorporated the award into the IOP awards programme and subsequently renamed it the Jocelyn Bell Burnell Medal and Prize.
The award is for women at the start of their careers who have made a substantial contribution to physics and who support and encourage others in the field.
The prize is £1,000. The winner also receives a bronze medal and a certificate.
An annual in-person celebratory ceremony is held where finalists are invited to present their work and winners are announced.
Nominees for the award must:
- be women
- have completed their first undergraduate (bachelor’s or master’s) degree in physics less than five years ago (not including career breaks)
- be making a substantial contribution to physics
- be working to support and encourage others in the field
- be working in a physics-based role e.g. researcher, graduate trainee or teacher, or engaged in postgraduate study in physics
- have their undergraduate degree listed on myphysicscourse.iop.org. We consider nominees with non-UK degrees on a case-by-case basis
Annual conference and events
Find events for the Women in Physics Group
Networking with Leading Influencers within the Physics Community
Wednesday 18 May 2022
An afternoon aimed at inspiring, promoting, supporting and motivating young people to work towards achieving their goals in a post-Covid world where science has really come to the fore and into the public psyche in a manner never seen before.
The Culture of and Naming of SI Units
Monday 25 April 2022
Have you ever thought about why measuring standards are useful? We have units of measure that are convenient (the tea spoon, a pint, the centimetre), fundamental constants (the speed of light, Planck’s constant and many others), and measurement standards that are now called SI units. Would we have been able to make the discoveries in physics without this process of standardisation? Have these units of measure been fairly attributed to the discovery teams and how do differing cultures see this? Are we missing anything?
Physics and the Green Economy
24 November 2021
The group supported the week-long Physics and the Green Economy conference that was held alongside the UN Climate Change Conference (Cop26) in Glasgow.
Find out more about the session and the whole conference
JBB Prize event 2021
26 October 2021
We hosted a fully virtual Jocelyn Bell Burnell Prize event in 2021 to celebrate the finalists of this prestigious IOP medal. Each finalist gave an overview of their work, and we also heard from a previous winner to inspire as to what could be next for them!
Returner event: ‘Planning Your Return from a Physics Career Break and the Support Available’
19 May 2021
The group hosted a virtual event to help those planning on returning to a physics career, with lots of information on the support available.
We shared what the IOP currently does to support career returners, held a discussion about what career returners feel the IOP could do further to support them, had a brilliant talk from the Open University on how to plan your return, and ended with a Q&A.
Useful resources that were discussed include:
The IOP Concessionary rate, CPD recording and opportunities to continue professional registration whilst you are not professionally active.
There are also groups and volunteering opportunities to keep your skills going.
And the Carer’s Fund for financial support, including legal and financial discounts.
Lunchtime IOP Webinar Series – Career and skills opportunities for physicists in the nuclear sector
20-24 July 2020
Hosted by this and the Nuclear Industry groups and with support from the Physics Communicators Group, each day had a theme speaker (up to 30 minutes) on career pathways, skills and inclusivity with contributions.
Read the article about the series, Heat, energy and diverse ways of thinking (PDF, 368KB)
Getting Back into the Workplace
Tuesday 30 April 2019
A one-day meeting for women returning to the workplace after a career break with hands-on support and advice on returning to paid employment.
Employers and experts offered practical guidance on:
- confidence building
- goal setting
- identifying skills and possible career paths
- updating CVs
- using LinkedIn and social media
The day included:
- mock interviews by employers
- information on schemes to help people return to work
- open-panel discussion and networking
Find out more about the event (PDF, 479KB)
- Download Imposter Syndrome (PP, 1MB). Caroline Broad of Broad Associates Limited. Visit the Broad Associates Facebook page and Twitter (@BroadTraining).
- Download LinkedIn and Social Media (PDF, 7.8MB). Social Misfits Media
- Interview skills (PDF, 375KB). Sarah Bakewell from the Atomic Weapons Establishment. Visit Twitter (@awe_plc).
Download the programme to learn more about the event (PDF, 135MB).
Tweets from the day: #IOPReturntowork2019
The Lives and Times of Pioneering Women in Physics
4 March 2015
- The Contribution of Women to Physics: a Historical Overview (PP, 3.65MB). Gillian Butcher
- History’s Lessons: Opportunities and Challenges for Women in Physics Today (1.55MB). Heather Williams
Download the agenda for more information (PDF, 135KB)
Newsletters and physics publications
- Newsletter number 22, spring 2023 (PDF, 321KB)
- Newsletter number 21, summer 2022 (PDF, 363KB)
- Newsletter number 20, spring 2016 (PDF, 1.55MB)
- Newsletter number 19, September 2015 (PDF, 1.15MB)
- Newsletter number 18, February 2014 (PDF, 5.31MB)
- Newsletter number 17, 2012/2013 (PDF, 451KB)
- Newsletter number 16, 2011/2012 (PDF, 866KB)
- One woman can change a lot if she is determined, Physics World, 21 July 2017
- Great dames: a tribute to the game changers at ICWiP, Physics World, 27 July 2017
- Bias, stereotyping and harassment: what women battle, Physics World, 28 July 2017
- A week in which good practice and frustrations could be shared honestly, Physics World, 31 July 2017
- Cultural Perception and Bias, Digital Science, 2 August 2017
- 4,000 years of women in science
- Association for Science Education
- Athena Forum
- Athena Swan – Charter for Women in Science
- IOP Benevolent Fund
- IOP Carers’ Fund
- Cambridge Association for Women in Science and Engineering
- Contributions of 20th Century Women to Physics
- Daphne Jackson Trust (for returners)
- European Platform of Women Scientists (EPWS)
- IOP diversity
- IUPAP working group on Women in Physics resolution
- Médiathèque Scientifique de l'institut Pasteur
- MentorSET: National Mentoring Scheme for Women in SET
- PORTIA: Gateway for Women in SET
- Project Juno (recognises organisations taking action to address gender inequality)
- Resource Centre for Women in Science, Engineering and Technology
- Royal Institution
- Royal Society Rosalind Franklin Award
- ScienceGrrl network of mainly women scientists passing on their love of STEM
- STEM Ambassadors
- STEM Learning
- Towards gender equality in physics – what is medical physics getting right? Summary of the November 2018 discussion on Physics World
- Women Physicists on Wikipedia
- Women into Science and Engineering and Technology (WISE)
- Women's Engineering Society
Committee and contacts
|Chair||Miss Dawn Watson, CPhys FInstP|
|Secretary||Dr Josie Coltman, CPhys MInstP|
|Treasurer||Dr Tracey Berry, MInstP|
|Co-opted Member||Dr John Bruun, CPhys MInstP|
|Ordinary Member||Miss Katherine Chippendale, MInstP|
|Ordinary Member||Miss Elizabeth Fitzpatrick, MInstP|
|Ordinary Member||Miss Avril Jackson, MInstP|
|Ordinary Member||Miss Jannat Khan, MInstP|
|Ordinary Member||Dr Jessica Maclean, MInstP|
|Ordinary Member||Miss Carly Muldoon, MInstP|
|Ordinary Member||Dr Juna Sathian, MInstP|
|Ordinary Member||Mrs Rizwana Shelley, CPhys MInstP|
|Ordinary Member||Dr Sarah Williams, MInstP|
|Early Career Physicist||Mx Charlotte Vale, MInstP|
Email: [email protected]
Advisory panel members
Professor Dame S Jocelyn Bell Burnell
DBE FRS FRSE. Former President of the Institute of Physics (2008 to 2010), University of Oxford
Professor Philippa Browning
Jodrell Bank Centre for Astrophysics, University of Manchester
Professor Dame Athene Donald
DBE FRS. Professor of Experimental Physics, University of Cambridge
Professor Brian R Fulton
Dean of the Faculty of Sciences, University of York, Chair of the IOP Juno Panel
Dr Barbara J Gabrys
University of Oxford, Chair of the IOP Diversity and Inclusion Committee
Professor Gillian Gehring
OBE. Emeritus Professor of Physics, University of Sheffield, Team Leader ICWIP 2002, EPWS BoA to 2009
Professor Helen Gleeson
OBE. Cavendish Professor of Physics, University of Leeds
Professor Dame Julia Higgins
DBE FRS FREng. Emeritus Professor, Department of Chemical Engineering, Imperial College London
Professor Jessica James
Commerzbank, Head of Quantitative Solutions
Professor Averil Macdonald
FRSA. Professor of Science Communication, University of Reading
Professor Peter Main
Head of Department of Physics, Institute of Physics
Professor Andrew Randewich
Chief Scientist, AWE
Professor Elaine Seddon
University of Manchester and Cockcroft Institute Daresbury
Dr Uschi Steigenberger
Rutherford Appleton Laboratory STFC
Professor Julia Yeomans
University of Oxford, Team leader ICWiP 2005, EPS Council