Frequently asked questions

Why do we need a society for women & non-binary individuals in physics?

Women in the UK earn more undergraduate and postgraduate degrees than men [1] but are still significantly under-represented in physics. Only ~20% of physics undergraduate students are women, which decreases to around one in ten at professorial level [2]. This can lead to many challenges for all gender minorities, and there is no single solution to this problem. This society aims to create a community where people can discuss their experiences and ambitions in a supportive and welcoming environment.

In 2021 - 2022, the Postdoc & Fellows Development Centre commisioned a study on What do women need to progress in academia? This was an independent study which spent over 50 hours listening to women in academia at Imperial to find out the institutional barriers holding them back.

At Imperial, women are paid less than men - the median gender pay gap is currently 8%, they also receive lower bonus', and are more likely to be employed in lower-paid positions


Why the name change?

In summer 2022, we decided to change our name from the Women in Physics Society (WiP) to the Women and Non-Binary Individuals in Physics Society (WNBiP). We wanted to share why.

The Women in Physics Society was set up to create a supportive and inclusive community for women in the Department of Physics to socialise, to share experiences and to empower each other. Women face numerous challenges within physics, which are often amplified by the stark gender imbalance. Women are not alone in facing these issues – non-binary people are also significantly underrepresented and experience similar exclusionary behaviour and institutional barriers.

Gender equality cannot exist without equality for all. Anyone who pushes against imposed societal stereotypes is helping to the create cultural change we need to achieve this. As a society, our primary aim has not changed – we want physics to be an inclusive space for everyone. To better represent this ambition, we have decided to change our name to Women and Non-Binary Individuals in Physics. Anyone can be a physicist, even if they don’t “fit in”. We want to support people to follow their passions; our society will continue to create events which promote community, as well as raise awareness on the issues underrepresented groups may face and how they can work to better improve the situation for themselves and each other.

By changing our name, we are adding to our support system, and not taking away: safe spaces will still be promoted when sensitive topics are discussed. But, as always, our society and events are open for any individual who supports the progression of underrepresented people in physics, including men, and we welcome the allyship.

Who is allowed to join?

Everyone is welcome! All allies who support the progression of gender minorities in the department can attend our events. Many of the topics we discuss are important for all physicists, including imposter syndrome, childcare responsibilities and work-life balance.

I’ve never felt that being a woman makes any difference to my experience in physics, why do we need to have this society?

That’s great for you! Not everyone needs this network. Some people are very lucky to be surrounded by supportive supervisors, friends, and mentors. Others already have the confidence to speak up in a room filled with men. Unfortunately, not everyone feels this way, and this is where the society can help.

How can I join?
Becoming a member is free! Sign up to our mailing list to receive all the latest news and events. If you want to become a more active member of the society, or to become a committee member, contact us.

The first step towards becoming an ally is education. It is important for everyone to educate themselves on the experiences and issues faced by underrepresented people in our community.

One of the ways you can do this is by attending our events and listening to the stories of the women and non-binary individuals who study and work in physics, asking questions and being receptive to having your opinions and biases challenged.

Reading is also an excellent place to start (based on Warwick Chemistry Diversity Book Club):

or see our Good Reads for more physics specific recommendations.