Welcome to the pages for the Oxford Physics Gender Equity Network (OPGEN). Here you can find out more about what we do, who the committee is, and - if you're logged into the university network - find information on how to join us.
OPGEN is run by a committee drawn from across the students, academics and staff in the Department of Physics. We organise events and campaigns to promote gender equity in the department. We'd love to see you at our events, and we're always open to new people joining the committee. If you have any questions, you can always email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
There are a few ways you can contact us and find out what we're up to:
The Oxford Physics Gender Equality Network will:
- Create space
- Provide support
- Push for change
The Network will host virtual and in-person spaces in which women and people of minoritised genders from all areas of the department are made to feel welcome. These spaces will offer opportunities for socialising and building informal networks across the department.
We recognise that some people of minoritised genders in physics need additional support because of the environment in which they live, work and study. The network will offer this support through programmes such as mentoring and career development workshops, as well as more informal peer support.
Pushing for Change
Women and people of minoritised genders can still face discrimination in physics. The Network will advocate for changes that help move the department and wider physics environment towards true gender equity.
Why does OPGEN exist?
Women are underrepresented in the physical sciences. Despite equal representation and performance at age 16, the proportion of female undergraduates drops to 20%, and further to less than one in ten at the professorial level. There is not one simple reason for this drop, rather a combination of factors is responsible. In the Gender Equity Network we aim to build a community of women and gender minorities to support each other and push for change.
What does OPGEN do?
We run regular events that give an opportunity for women and gender minorities to meet, socialise, network and support each other. We share all of our events via our mailing list, and many of them are also advertised through the department's communications.
The network also runs a successful mentoring scheme for undergraduates. All female first-year undergraduates will be given the option to join the mentoring scheme and be assigned a mentor. The mentors are mostly second, third and fourth year students who have themselves been part of the scheme. If you're interested in joining the Women in Physics mentoring scheme, as a mentor or a mentee, contact the mentoring co-ordinator whose details are on the committee page.
If there's something you'd like the network to organise, let us know!
Are men welcome at our events?
We are always pleased to see anyone supporting women and gender minorities in physics! The network exists both as a way for women and non-binary (NB) people to network and meet other women and NB people in physics, and also to push for change on issues of gender equity in the department. Many of these issues also affect men, such as imposter syndrome, caring responsibilities and work-life balance.
I’ve also heard of the Juno and Athena SWAN awards. What are they?
The Project Juno initiative is run by the Institute of Physics. It is aimed at ensuring physics departments provide equal opportunities for career progression and provide an inclusive environment. The award levels are Supporter, Practitioner and Champion (the highest level). The Department of Physics here in Oxford is currently a Juno Champion. More information can be found here.
The Athena SWAN Awards are part of the Equality Challenge Unit Athena SWAN Charter, and are awarded to any department (not just physics) that has shown a commitment to and has acted upon improving equality and diversity. The Department of Physics in Oxford currently holds an Athena SWAN Silver award.
I haven’t ever felt that being a woman makes any difference to my career progression, why do we still need to talk about this?
If you feel like you don’t need the network, that’s great! A lot of people are surrounded by supportive teams and have the confidence to stand up for themselves in a male-dominated environment. However that isn’t true for everyone in physics. Unfortunately there is still not a level playing field for people of different genders in the physical sciences.
The Oxford Women in Physics Society was founded in June 2013. The goal was to bring women from across the department together to support one another in the pursuit of their goals within physics. The Women in Physics Society was also instrumental in helping organise the first UK Conference for Undergraduate Women in Physics (CUWiP UK), which is now run by the Institute of Physics. In February 2022, the society re-branded and re-launched as the Oxford Physics Gender Equity Network.