Week 7: Sometimes numbers speak louder than words

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Friday, July 16, 2021


Zeynep Tuna

This week, I continued working on the Top Educators Lists. I completed writing the program that generates the spreadsheet with each institution’s 3-year averages based on the demographic/degree categories decided (yay!). As I started creating the Top Educators tables and considering the suggested rules by the APS Committee on Education, it struck me how the decisions we make on how to design these tables and, more generally, how to present the diversity and inclusion data for physics degrees that we work with affects the progress the institutions and the community can make. It was great to study an extensive document on the suggested rules for the How Does Your Institution Compare and the Top Educators webpage because it shed light on issues and delicacies that I was not immediately aware of.

As I was creating the tables, it was important for me to see and, now share with you all, that the tables with the emptiest cells belonged to physics degrees awarded to underrepresented minorities and women. Most of us were and are aware of this disparity, however, seeing it in numbers made it even more apparent. As the latest year of data that I have access to is 2019, my observations do not reflect the status of diversity in physics right now. I am definitely looking forward to seeing how things have changed in the years 2020 and 2021!

Zeynep Tuna (she/her/hers)