“ It was really nice to meet with the larger women physicist community at Aspen by having lunch at Bernice Durand's. This was most enjoyable, and we discussed many issues facing women physicists coming to the center, and what could make it easier.”

Update on the Aspen Focal Week on Women in Physics

Article reprinted with permission from CSWP Gazette summer 1997
by Katherine Freese (Univ. of Michigan), Catherine Kallin (McMaster Univ.), Elizabeth Simmons (Boston University).

In July 1994, we organized a Focal Week on Women in Physics at the Aspen Center for Physics. A major goal of the Focal Week was to suggest how the Center could improve the participation of women in the Center's scientific activities. A list of specific recommendations was submitted to and approved by the Scientific Advisory Board of the Center in August 1994. This update briefly reviews the progress made in implementing these recommendations.


Between August 1994 and September 1996, a total of seven additional women were elected to the ACP Scientific Advisory Board, which is responsible for running the Center. This more than doubled the number of women Board members. The admissions, nominations, executive, and scientific program committees all had women members in 1994–95, 1995–96 and 1996–97. A committee for participant diversity (of which two of us are currently members) was established in 1996–97.

Three of the ten 1995 summer workshops and one of the four 1995 winter workshops had a woman among their organizers. Of the ten workshops held in summer 1996, three had at least one woman organizer. Four of the twelve workshops planned for summer 1997 have a woman among the organizers.

Advertising and Admissions

The scientific workshops are now more widely advertised – including a notice on the LANL electronic conference list with links to the Center's new WWW site. Over 100 women physicists have been added to the Center's mailing list. The application form is now readily available online. Ten percent of the physicists participating in the 1995 summer program at the Center were women; in 1996 this rose to twelve percent. Both are higher percentages than for any year preceding the Focal Week, and the 1996 figure equals that of 1994. Many of the women attending in 1995 and 1996 were at Aspen for the first time.

Family Issues

Information on daycare is made available to applicants in the printed literature and on the website. A file on daycare is maintained at the Center to allow participants to share information and experiences.

An admissions policy on two–physicist couples has been established: Couples are able to identify themselves as such on the application form and to indicate whether they wish to be considered for admission independently or jointly. This is essential, since admission is competitive and the typical stay at the Center is three weeks or longer.

We are very pleased at the progress made since the Focal Week and anticipate that women's participation at the Aspen Center for Physics will continue to increase.

For additional information:
17 Improvement Suggestions Made to the ACP Board