Education General Technology

Women play a key role in driving the Quantum Sector

January 17, 2021

Quantum physics has been revolutionary for technological development since its discovery, and a ‘second quantum revolution’ will potentially change technology in ways we cannot imagine. China and other nations are all scrambling to stay ahead in the quantum race, but there is one problem. Quantum physics, like all physics, is dominated by men, and this must change. A recent article by Scientific American highlights the need for women in the Quantum Computing field.

Women can actively contribute to the quantum community immensely. Sadly historically many women in science got a raw deal such as Rosalind Franklin for her contribution to the discovery of DNA.

Today, Out of 500 college students in India, only 9 are women. Even in America, women barely have a presence in physics. The majority of discoveries made by scientists in the field of physics are men as well. The ‘physics culture’ that permeates the entire field heavily favours men.

Women often report that their voices are ignored and they face many challenges. Even when they share views with a male peer, they are passed over. This makes women studying to make a career in the field of physics feel unwanted and unwelcome. It would not be surprising when women eventually leave the field due to these reasons, as the environment is not for them.

The field of physics is also filled with stereotypes. One of them is that because physics is an objective science, only people who are truly interested in it will continue in the field. The rest who do not join the field do not care. Another harmful stereotype is that a physicist is either good at physics or not a physicist at all.

In light of this, it is very clear why women do not feel welcome in physics.

To fix this, all students must be recognised, women, under-represented communities, and more. This will include everyone in the discussion and allow for an equal footing. The students must feel they belong, and this is done by empathising with them, mentoring them, and giving them assistance. Women’s self-efficiency can improve this way, and they will feel that the field of physics accepts them. Fewer women will leave physics behind this way. Leaders should also target negative behaviour that excludes women and other underrepresented persons.

Women need to have self-efficiency in the field. When a woman gets an A in a physics course, she feels the same level of self-efficiency as a man who gets a C in the same course. To be successful in physics, one must have a higher level of self-efficiency regardless of test and course results.

While this is a process that will take time, it will be very beneficial to the quantum computing community. Women have brilliant ideas and can contribute to the challenging projects scientists face. The quantum revolution needs women in order to succeed, and change must happen as soon as possible.

SheQuantum is an e-Learning platform that aims to help women succeed in quantum computing. It has special scholarships and concessions exclusively for women. By these methods of assistance, women can eventually become ‘Quantum Ready’ and contribute to the quantum community.

We are pleased to note there are some very active and successful members of the Quantum community such as Maria Schuld, perhaps most well known for her work on Quantum Machine Learning and works at Xanadu in addition to being an academic in South Africa. There are other notable big hitters in the field, such as Stephanie Wehner from the Dutch Quantum community. It is not fair to single out all we have come across across the vast and growing talent pool. The UK even sports a female Quantum founder of Oxford Quantum circuits.

When the quantum community becomes a welcoming place for women, only then can their talents be successfully utilised.

See the Scientific American Article

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