Space for more women in the sciences is becoming increasingly crucial for advancing both innovation and inclusivity. Historically, women have been underrepresented in scientific fields; however, if provided with a suitable platform, they bring unique perspectives and talents to these fields, contributing to a richer and more diverse scientific landscape.
This article discusses the role of women in quantum physics and the contribution of a unique platform, SheQuantum, in this regard.
Historically, women have faced systemic barriers and gender biases in pursuing careers in science, including quantum physics, due to limited access to education, societal expectations, and discriminatory practices that contributed to their underrepresentation in this field. For instance, scientist Lise Meitner was nominated 49 times for the Nobel Prize in physics and chemistry but was denied until 1944, when she won her first Nobel Prize in chemistry.
However, despite such difficulties, many female scientists have made significant contributions to various scientific fields throughout history.
The Role of Women in Quantum Science
In the field of quantum science, the involvement of women is very low. For instance, a recent report by the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) reveals the gender gap within the quantum industry. The report underscores that less than 2% of applicants for quantum jobs are women, emphasizing the industry's missed opportunities in talent, innovation, and productivity. With just 1 in 54 applications from women in the sector and 80% of quantum companies lacking senior female members, the report suggests that action is imperative to foster diversity and inclusion.
The LSE report recommends collecting diversity data, auditing work processes, and ensuring fair recruitment practices. The report aligns with a broader call for increased diversity in the quantum sector, with industry leaders recognizing the importance of inclusive cultures for innovation and financial success. The gender gap and lack of representation of women in quantum sciences necessitate platforms like SheQuantum.
SheQuantum: A Quantum eLearning Initiative to Inspire Women and Girls
SheQuantum is an eLearning platform founded by Quantum Computing Researcher, Global Keynote Speaker, Author, and Entrepreneur Nithyasri Srivathsan, based in Singapore. The platform was founded in 2020 to educate women about quantum technologies.
Since then, they have expanded to more than seventy countries, three hundred research institutes and thirty-plus research labs and companies, with 54% of registered users being female. Moreover, SheQuantum has collaborated with key institutes and universities, including the Deggendorf Institute of Technology Germany, Purdue University, the World Quantum Association, and quantum think tanks like Qspain.
As a young quantum woman researcher, I profoundly care about making quantum education accessible, especially to fellow women across the globe and I'm proud to be accomplishing this important mission through my EdTech, SheQuantum since 2020, with an evergrowing global reach of 290+ research institutions across 70+ countries with the support of our collaborators from the industry and academia. Innovation in Quantum Computing will come from inclusion and accessibility and I hope that they become the centre of what we do with this exciting technology
Nithyasri Srivathsan, Founder, SheQuantum
SheQuantum was established with the mission of revolutionizing simplified quantum computing education to the global masses & enabling women to enter the quantum workforce. The founder, Nithyasri Srivathsan's simple vision statement "Inspire, Educate & Create workforce" made this possible. The advisory board of SheQuantum consists of eminent global industry experts and professors in quantum technologies who are delivering the best quantum computing courses and inspiring content through SheQuantum. More importantly, these quantum technology courses are available free of cost on the SheQuantum platform. (1).
SheQuantum was listed in the "9 Educational Platforms To Get The Quantum Workforce Up & Running", on par with IBM, Microsoft and MITx pro among others, published by The Quantum Insider, Canada. (2).
SheQuantum has shared many stories of key quantum scientists to inspire and develop the interest of girls and women in the field. For instance, in one of their recent interviews with Jennifer E. Decker, Consul (Principal Advisor) of the National Research Council Canada (NRC), SheQuantum discusses the global quantum computing ecosystem and opportunities for women and girls in this field. (3)
In the “Women of Quantum” series, SheQuantum features forgotten female scientists in quantum sciences, quantum computing, and quantum technologies. In one of their recent blogs, SheQuantum shared the immense contributions in quantum mechanics by Professor Hendrika Johanna van Leeuwen, a pioneering theoretical physicist born in The Hague, Netherlands (4).
Her 1919 Ph.D. thesis at the University of Leiden shed light on the quantum nature of magnetism, which is today known as the Bohr-van Leeuwen theorem. This theorem asserts that classical mechanics fails to account for magnetization in solids, making magnetism fundamentally a quantum phenomenon. Van Leeuwen's impactful career included roles at the Delft University of Technology, where she became its first female professor in 1947. Until her retirement in 1952, she lectured on ferromagnetism and special relativity. Her pioneering contributions endure, marking her as an influential figure in the quantum sciences for women.
Making Learning More Accessible
The registered users of SheQuantum gain exclusive access to several quantum courses as well as free access to their webinars and summits. However, the most crucial thing is that they provide a unique networking platform for a large quantum community, providing opportunities for women and girls to communicate with researchers, scientists, and other fellow quantum enthusiasts, which helps them learn, grow, and gain knowledge from the experiences of others.
In conclusion, recognizing the gender gap within the quantum industry, SheQuantum has become a fast-growing, globally influential eLearning platform. SheQuantum offers educational resources, expert interviews, and courses with a mission to motivate women to pursue quantum sciences. By sharing inspiring stories of women quantum scientists like Professor Hendrika Johanna van Leeuwen, SheQuantum aims to ignite interest and empower women in quantum physics. Moreover, by providing exclusive access to quantum courses, webinars, and a networking platform, SheQuantum plays a crucial role in making quantum learning more accessible, fostering diversity, and cultivating a vibrant quantum community.
References and Further Reading
- Quantum Technology courses are available free of cost in SheQuantum platform https://shequantum.org/elearning/
- 9 Educational Platforms To Get The Quantum Workforce Up & Running, The Quantum Insider, Canada https://thequantuminsider.com/2020/12/30/9-educational-platforms-to-get-the-quantum-workforce-up-running/
- SheQuantum’s Exclusive interview with Jennifer E. Decker, Consul (Principal Advisor), National Research Council Canada (NRC) Germany, Consulate of Canada, Munich, Germany https://shequantum.org/2023/10/14/shequantums-exclusive-interview-with-jennifer-e-decker-consul-principal-advisor-national-research-council-canada-nrc-germany-consulate-of-canada-munich-germany/
- #3 of our “Women of Quantum” series: Theoretical Physicist, Professor Hendrika Johanna van Leeuwen https://shequantum.org/2023/12/02/3-of-our-women-of-quantum-series-theoretical-physicist-professor-hendrika-johanna-van-leeuwen/
James Dargan (2021) Women in Quantum. 52 Wonder Women Working In Industry As Quantum Scientists & Engineers. The Quantum Insider. https://thequantuminsider.com/2021/08/24/52-wonder-women-working-in-industry-as-quantum-scientists-engineers/
Josten, C., Lordan, G., & Robinson, K. (2023). The City Quantum Summit: a briefing on Diversity and Inclusion in the quantum sector. https://www.lse.ac.uk/tii/assets/documents/The-City-Quantum-Summit-TII-Report.pdf
Michael Allen (2023) Quantum News, Fledgling quantum industry is heavily male dominated, finds report. Physics World. https://physicsworld.com/a/fledgling-quantum-industry-is-heavily-male-dominated-finds-report/
Scheich, E. (1997). Science, politics, and morality: The relationship of Lise Meitner and Elisabeth Schiemann. Osiris. https://www.jstor.org/stable/301903
SheQuantum (2023) #3 of our "Women of Quantum" series: Theoretical Physicist, Professor Hendrika Johanna van Leeuwen. https://shequantum.org/2023/12/02/3-of-our-women-of-quantum-series-theoretical-physicist-professor-hendrika-johanna-van-leeuwen/
Stecklein, G. (2008). Bridging the Gender Gap in Quantum Physics. https://scholarship.claremont.edu/pomona_theses/24