I was at a women in physics conference recently. (USC, Yale, and U Michigan have started hosting women in physics conferences. They are really great. ) Amy Cassidy, a friend of mine and a rare female atomic physics theorist, gave a talk about the state of women in physics. Most of the stats she presented were pretty well known to me and not very shocking.
However there is one stat that I found very shocking. According to the Institute on Women and Gender, 44% of the female APS membership are married to other physicists. Another 25%, are married to other scientists. Thats 69% of women in physics are married to other scientists!! There is even a term for this, disciplinary endogamy. Sounds like some kind bizarre disease.
So here we have something, we in physics, call the two body problem. The two body problem is that it is often very hard for two driven, highly specialized careers to coexist in one couple. Of course this doesn’t happen to just scientific couples. It can just be harder sometimes if both people are academic and need to find two professor-like jobs at the same university, city or town.
Now the reason I bring this up, is that I have always been one of the women steadfastly in the other 30%. I don’t date other scientists. I just seem to get along better with men who are not like me. Who don’t think like me. I like to think that it’s because I like to learn things I didn’t know from my partner. It’s most likely because I get too competitive.
In fact, in my many years of dating, and my many years of working in very male dominated environments, I have only once gone on a date with a fellow scientist. And technically he was an engineer. As Maverick would say, that relationship was a “crash and burn.” But that is all about to change. I am about to break all of my rules and see what all of my colleagues seem to think is the winning ticket. I am going on a date with another physicist. Maybe, I’ll tell you how it goes…