APS Bridge Program

About the Inclusive Graduate Education Network (IGEN)

The Inclusive Graduate Education Network is a pilot effort that brings together a half dozen selective graduate programs in physics to develop, adopt, and share inclusive practices for recruiting, admitting, and retaining women and underrepresented minorities. Network partners also include physics professional societies, minority serving organizations in physics, and researchers in graduate education to leverage and build knowledge, resources, and connections to help transform the enterprise of graduate education in physics. The launch pilot builds on the APS Bridge Program, which has demonstrated initial success with increasing numbers of underrepresented minorities in physics Ph.D. programs.


Figure 1

Female URM Graph

Percentage of female and underrepresented ethnic/racial minority graduates from physics Ph.D. programs by program size (number of graduates per year), compared with physics bachelors' degrees.

Physics awards smaller percentages of Ph.D.s to women (19%) and underrepresented ethnic and racial minorities (7%) than any other field in the sciences, and underrepresentation is especially pronounced at selective universities. As global competition for scientific talent heats up and US demographics shift, cultivating a robust domestic workforce is critical to U.S. technological leadership.

Underrepresentation is especially pronounced at selective universities that produce the largest numbers of doctoral degrees in physics (see Figure 1). Programs that award 20 or more Ph.D.s per year, which account for over 40% of all physics Ph.D.s in the U.S., would need approximately 20% more women and 50% more underrepresented ethnic and racial minority students just to reach parity with the gender and ethnic/racial composition of those who earn physics bachelors' degrees. The implications of these inequalities are far reaching, as selective universities educate most of the future faculty and leaders of the physics community.