Should more girls be encouraged to study physics?

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Dear Samantha,
As I said back in November 2011 (can it really be that long ago?!) I
always enjoy your articles, and you bring to the readership good sense in
a digestible format.
I hope the implied hint to parents to encourage daughters to apply
themselves to physics/engineering will bring results.
In the broadest sense, physics/engineering, underlies everything we are
and do. Just as in art, where the more we look, listen, touch, sniff, the
more we appreciate the wonder and beauty of the world around us:- so, in
Physics/Engineering, the more we set about understanding the fundamental
principles behind the physical world of which we are a part, the better we
are able to control our lives, and live safely and rewardingly.
Without a grounding in science AND the arts, one is ill-equipped to
appreciate the wonders of the world about us, or make the best of our own
As an engineer myself, brought up in the enforced austerities of wartime,
I have always practised treading lightly on the face of the earth, wasting
nothing, repairing rather than replacing, using the least and most
economical material/method for any job — And relying on a fundamental
understanding of functionality to ensure safety and reliability. NOT ‘elf
an sifety’ as embodied in “jobs-worth bureaucracy”, which is costing us
all a lot of money and hassle!
I used to have female engineers in my department, and always valued their
viewpoint on subjects. In general, I believe the female mind is marginally
better adapted to fulfilling a role in present-day society than the male
equivalent, and this applies to all professions and activities; so
encouragement for girls to “get physical” as you put it, is an important
element in getting a better female/male balance across all aspects of
modern life.
Thanks for the article – keep up the good work!
Yours sincerely,

James more than 10 years ago

Good work

Dear Ms Lauire,
I very nearly binned the Barnes Magazine unread, but then recanted, and very glad to have done so I was, because hidden away in the middle of it was your wonderful article about how few girls go into physics and engineering. I thought it was brilliantly written and it was very good to think that there are people out there trying to do something about it.
I am in the law and come across engineers quite frequently and I am ashamed to say that I hadn’t even noticed that none of the ones I have come across was a woman. If a great change is in store I fear that I am too ancient to be likely to benefit from it, but I hope that the efforts you described have the desired effect.
All the best,

Oliver more than 10 years ago

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