by Helena Witzke
Gender studies in the sciences is the focus of WMU physics Ph.D. student Ramón Barthelemy, who recently was awarded not only a graduate assistantship from the WMU Alliances for Graduate Education and the Professoriate, but also a fellowship from the Michigan Space Grant Consortium.
Barthelemy, who is pursuing a doctorate in physics education, is focusing his study on the low gender diversity in physics. Barthelemy notes that “although women [are] very poorly represented in physics overall, they [have] high numbers in certain sub-fields of physics”—areas such as physics education and astronomy tend to be more diverse.
“Though physics does attract many talented scholars from around the world, very few American women, Hispanics, African Americans and LGBT students seek degrees in physics,” he adds.
In order to discover why this might be the case, Barthelemy will be using the MSGC fellowship to travel to large universities and interview women studying astronomy and physics education. He will try to understand why these particular fields attract—and retain—more female students.
Barthelemy gives credit for the advancement of his studies to several WMU faculty, including Drs. Nora Berrah (physics), Charles Henderson (MISE, physics), Bill Cobern (MISE, biological sciences) and Megan Grunert (MISE, chemistry). His course of studies is unique, given that he is simultaneously earning his M.A. in Physics and a Ph.D. in Science Education: Physics through the Department of Physics and MISE, respectively.
Barthelemy has made the most of his time at WMU. He as been invited to teach a gender and women’s studies course; speak at an invited talk on LGBT issues at the American Physical Society March conference; and has founded a chapter of oSTEM (Out in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) at WMU.