Department Colloquium: Breaking Down Barriers in Physics and Beyond

Date and Time


SSC 1511



Woman standing, wearing a striped shirt from the waist up holding a bowling ball suspended on a cable.
Dr. Sarah Johnson, Simon Fraser University



Throughout my 30+ year career in physics I have constantly strived to show the world how amazing physics is and encourage more young people to study physics, especially those who have been historically discouraged to enter the field. My efforts have taken many different forms over the years from providing extra support to students struggling in first-year university courses, to a workshop program designed to give high school girls hands-on experience in physics. This has meant breaking down barriers, opening doors and overcoming obstacles, both large and small. In this talk I will discuss some of the historical barriers to participation in physics from stereotypes to a fixed mindset, and the various ways I have tried to break them down in my role as an educator. I have always thought that it was part of my job as a university faculty member to reach out beyond my classroom and share the wonders of physics with the general public; to try to counteract what I call the “reputation problem” physics has, so that more people can picture themselves becoming physicists. 

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