Why Have a Workshop for Women in Physics?

By Shobhana Narasimhan

Womenphysics1“But what do you do in a workshop like this?”
“Tell me, do you really think that there is a need for a workshop like this?”
“I completely disapprove of activities that are segregated by gender.”
“I think it is wrong for ICTP to be involved in such workshops. ICTP is for scientific activities.”
“I am very curious to know what you women discuss…tell me, you sit there and criticize men, huh?”

These are some of the more puzzled or hostile reactions I have received (mostly from men in physics) about the two “Career Development Workshops for Women in Physics” that I have helped organize at ICTP, together with Liz Simmons and Erika Coppola.

Sometimes, I feel that the fact that I am interested in organizing activities for women in physics is like having a fondness for romance novels by Georgette Heyer, or actually liking Pizza Hut pizza …it is to be kept a dark secret, suggesting I am not to be taken entirely seriously as a physicist, and may even be…ai ai ai…a FEMINIST!

Welcome to Multiverse!

by Kelsey Calhoun

ictpflowersWelcome to the ICTP Multiverse! This blog is a home for all sorts of stories from the global community of physicists and mathematicians connected to the Abdus Salam International Centre for Theoretical Physics. ICTP has a dual mission: to promote research excellence, and to support the development of sustainable science in developing countries around the world, spreading opportunity and resources where they are needed.

Over more than fifty years, thousands of scientists have studied at, worked at, visited, collaborated with, or been supported by ICTP. Each of those scientists has many stories–about their science, cultures, challenges, and lives, stories that sometimes go untold because they don’t necessarily qualify as “news.”

Multiverse is a new home for those stories, to make sure they get told. Research doesn’t happen in a vacuum: scientists are human too, and humans are a storytelling species. This blog will provide a backstage look, a glimpse into the process and lives of scientists and the science they publish.

Most of the posts will be written by scientists or students from the ICTP community, so the stories will be in their own words. We hope these words will inspire you to learn more about physics and mathematics, to share your enthusiasm about science, to study physics and math, or to support physicists and mathematicians in your community. If a post sparks a thought, please leave a comment below the blog posts. We’d like to hear from you.

“Science is the common heritage of mankind,” said Abdus Salam, ICTP’s founder. We hope you enjoy the stories of this heritage, from a community using a global approach to tackle pressing problems of our time.


Kelsey Calhoun is a science writer in the Public Information Office at ICTP.