In April, the Universities of Glasgow and Strathclyde will be jointly hosting the conference for undergraduate women in physics (CUWiP) UK and Ireland. It is the first time, this conference will be hosted in Scotland. From 2015 to 2019 CUWiP was hosted by the University of Oxford before other universities in the UK won the bid to host it. The conference is modelled after American Physics Society CUWiP, which was started by two female physics students from the University of Southern California in 2006.
The aim of CUWiP is to encourage female and non-binary undergraduates to continue in physics by providing them with an opportunity to experience a professional conference, information about postgraduate studies and professions in physics, as well as access to other women in physics of all ages with whom they can share experiences, advice, and ideas. The three-day conference also includes presentations by inspirational women in physics, academia and industry as well as tours of laboratories. In addition, there will be expert panels to answer participants’ questions on graduate study and career opportunities outside of academia. This conference is a fantastic opportunity to meet with like-minded female and non-binary undergraduate students to share experiences and learn about possible careers in physics in and outside the university setting. From my experience of studying physics in Germany and the UK, I can appreciate the value of such a conference, as I often found myself to be one of two female physics students or sometimes even the only female physics student in study groups, lectures or laboratory settings.
I am, therefore, delighted to have been asked by the organisers of take part in this year’s panel on careers in industry and outside of academia. When I graduated from university, the job of a patent attorney was not something that was widely advertised and I stumbled across the patent profession. I find my work as a patent attorney very interesting and rewarding, especially as there are not many professions where you can learn about new inventions in a broad range of technical fields. By being part of the industry panel, I hope that I can inspire other female physics students to consider a career in the patent profession and provide them with valuable insights in the day-to-day work of a patent attorney.
A recent diversity survey conducted by the Intellectual Property Regulation Board (IPReg) has shown a more balanced male/female profile amongst UK registered patent and trade mark attorneys under the age of 44 years. However, other diversity surveys conducted by IPReg, broken down by subject, show that there is still a large gap between the number of male and female patent attorneys not only with a physics degree, but also with degrees in engineering. This shows the importance of attending conferences like CUWiP to encourage more women in STEM to consider a career as a patent attorney.