Summer research programs dominated by female students

Today was the day the students in two summer programs hosted at a top-notch university presented their summer research. The programs seek undergraduates from nearby universities to perform research in R1 facilities. I really like these programs becasue they make a point of bringing in students who do not have the advantages of most of the population at this private university and keeping in contact with them. Besides research, the students are required to present their summer research in the fall, and must develop career plans with a panel of at least three advisors, including professors and grad students.

When I arrived, I noticed a disparity - I was the only guy. I was early, and it turns out, there were a grand total of five old white guys (all professors) and one male Asian graduate student. There were over 20 women. The host was a woman (of color, even!), one of the professors was a woman, and all the rest, graduate students, host institution students, and the student participants, were all women. Every single participant in both programs was female. Unfortunately, I had to leave a little early, so I am not sure if any of the students opted for physics-related research, but there were several presentations from life sciences, medicine, and translational research fields. I'm old enough to remember when women in science were a scarcity (I dated all the female physics undergrads at my university - there was one). Now I see women in nearly every lab.

I'm pleased to say that two of the student participants were students of mine. My own university is often ... underwhelming and attracts mainly first-generation students who often are not well-prepared. However, while nerves showed, both of my students did respectable jobs in their presentations, at a level I am satisfied with for rising juniors (especially ones without a lot of lab experience). Even more importantly, they both really enjoyed their projects and are looking forward to the next phase of their projects. I think both of them significantly gained from the experience and I look forward to them joining the growing numbers of women in the lab.

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