Over the years, there’s been a steady and slow rise of females taking Physics in the IB Diploma here at Raha. However, this year it has dropped back down again. Compared to the other sciences - Biology, Chemistry and ESS- there’s nearly an equal ratio of girls to boys, if not more. This drop has brought the gender gap in Physics into scrutiny.
The priorities students have when entering the DP are their career directions. Currently, 3/6 of the female seniors taking Physics are planning to work in the field. One of the female senior students outside of Physics says “I do think that Physics is interesting, definitely. But, if I’m not going into Physics, what’s the point?”
She also said “Biology was a much easier choice. You just have to memorize. From what I see, Physics is difficult and also a lot more Math. I just can’t afford to focus on it.”
According to this, it is not the lack of interest that is driving female students away, but rather the misconception that Physics is more difficult than the other Sciences.
In reaction to this, Müge Okur, head of the science department and the only Physics teacher at Raha, says “I disagree that it is harder than the other sciences, being the one and only Physics teacher at this school and I’m female.”
“But, the fact that this view is not having boys step back, its getting girls to step back is what I think is related to the accepted gender roles in society.”
When asked about the misconception that boys are better in Physics, she says “I’ve heard this all my life. “Physics is a boys thing”. I’ve even heard it here, with students taking Physics. Over the years, I’ve taught many boys and girls. From what I’ve seen, there is no correlation. There is an approach difference. Boys approach it more actively, usually. Girls approach it cautiously.”
“My problem is that if this is an issue with ability, I’m definitely against that. The performance in Physics depends on how much you work. Yes, you need brains, but you need brains for everything.”