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#IAmAPhysicist Day is Tomorrow!

#IAmAPhysicist Day showcases the diversity of physicists

Physics is a dynamic, intriguing and fascinating discipline, but unfortunately its image is often quite the opposite: it is seen as a stuffy, boring field, populated by stuffy, boring scientists. 

This Thursday (26/05/2016), the 
Institute of Physics (IoP) are launching #IAmAPhysicist Day, and they’re asking physicists across the world to take part by tweeting pictures of themselves, along with the hashtag. The aim of the event is to ‘showcase the diversity amongst physicists out there, and the wide range of jobs a physicist can do’.  

The IoP are hoping to improve the public perception of physics and other scientific career-paths, in order to entice more young people to study for, and enter, STEM-based careers. They hope that educating children and their parents as to the vast diversity of people working in physics will help to dispel the myth that it is a field only suitable for people of a certain demographic,  by showing that anyone can be a physicist. 

A few keen physicists are ahead of the curve and have already begun sharing photos and stories of their time in the physics industry. 


The event is one in a list of Twitter-based awareness campaigns over the last couple of years, aimed at informing people of the breadth of both types of opportunity and differing people involved in working in a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) field. 

STEM fields across the board are experiencing skill shortages, and a lack of awareness of the myriad prospects for exciting, profitable work is one of the key issues preventing young people from entering these industries. There is an impression of science and engineering as being ‘boring’, or, worse, ‘only for boys’, and these campaigns are attempting to change the public perception of these fields, in order to entice the 182,000 engineering and technical specialists that the UK will need to recruit every year to 2022 in order to keep up with industry growth and remain competitive. 

#ILookLike... campaigns

Last September, we covered a campaign aimed at improving awareness of the diversity in engineering, #ILookLikeAnEngineer. The campaign was started by a young full-stack engineer at OneLogin in SanFrancisco in response to gender-biased comments she received following an advertisement for her company. Isis Wenger was a part of an ad campaign for the identity management company, along with a number of her colleagues. Only Isis, however, received comments doubting her credibility as an engineer and critiquing her appearance and facial expression. The only difference between Isis and her fellow engineers? She is female.      
    Fortunately, rather than allowing such comments to upset her, Isis decided to simply educate her detractors. She sent out a call to arms to the engineering community, asking them to post photos of themselves online, to show the enormous diversity of engineers across the world, not only in terms of gender, but also race, age and industry. She was not disappointed, and for some time the Twitterverse was flooded with images of proud, happy and successful engineers.  

Since #ILookLikeAnEngineer, we’ve seen #ILookLikeASurgeon, #ILookLikeAChemist and #ILookLikeACardiologist, among others. The STEM community want the world to know that science, mathematics and engineering are no longer closed circles – anyone is welcome, and the more the merrier! 

We’re looking forward to seeing all the photos tomorrow – make sure you’ve got your #IAmAPhysicist selfies ready!

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