Physics ranks high in study
KU stands out with 5 female professors

In 1982, when Barbara Anthony-Twarog joined KU's physics and astronomy department, she was a pioneer - the only female professor in the department.

But times have changed. Of the department's 28 current faculty members, five are women. While this may not sound like a lot, it is unusual by national standards.
KU is one of only 17 universities nationwide with at least four female physics faculty members, according to a study published by the American Institute of Physics. The mean number of women faculty in Ph.D. physics departments across the nation is 1.7.

Ray Ammar, professor and the physics and astronomy chair at KU, says he is pleased that the department is among such elite company as the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Johns Hopkins University and Columbia University. KU is the only Big 12 school on the list, and many of the schools listed have much larger physics departments than KU.

Still, Ammar says, there hasn't been a concerted effort to hire female professors.
"We don't start the hiring process by saying we are going to hire a woman," Ammar says. "Our intention is always to hire the bestperson available."

But KU and the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences have created a spousal accommodation policy that makes it easier for couples to choose KU.

"Our ability to hire excellent faculty sometimes depends on finding suitable positions for both members of a couple," Ammar says. "And the College office has been very supportive in that regard."

Anthony-Twarog says other factors also help, including the fact that the College's dean - Sally Frost Mason - is also a female scientist.

Donna Tucker, associate professor of physics and astronomy, has been at KU since 1993. She says KU's physics and astronomy department has a very healthy attitude toward hiring women. That, in turn, makes it easier to hire more women, she says.

"When you have a department that already has women, then more women are likely to come, rather than take a job somewhere where they would be the only female professor," Tucker says.











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July 14, 2000
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