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I was shocked by the quote from Kate Kirby in the February APS News in which she says, “Encouraging women to pursue physics is a top priority for us.” If you believe that physicists “should” be 50% men, 50% women, and then try to achieve that goal by “encouraging” girls to pursue physics, you are deciding ahead of time what you believe the percentage should be, and then trying to make that happen. This would be the same as if you believed that physicists “should” be 100% men, 0% women, and then tried to achieve that goal by discouraging girls to pursue physics. It is morally wrong to believe that the percentage of physicists who are women should have any specific value. If you believe that in a perfect ideal world, physicists would be 50% men, 50% women, do you also believe that in a perfect ideal world, nurses, elementary school teachers, and secretaries would also be 50% men, 50% women? Nurses, elementary school teachers, and secretaries are 90% women, 10% men. Nobody thinks that’s a problem. Nobody says we should encourage boys to enter those professions. If boys are less interested in those professions, what’s wrong with that? If physicists are 80% men, 20% women, why would that be a problem? If girls are less interested in being physicists, what's wrong with that?
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