Day 165: All Boys. Again.


Today I got my class roster for next year's AP Physics C course. It's all boys, again. Although this year I had one girl and 14 boys, the previous two years have been all male. And the year before that was just two girls.

It wasn't always this way. For a number of years, the class ran about 50/50. A significant number of changes have happened (course-wise, teacher-wise, school-wise) since then, so I'm finding it hard to pinpoint any particular variable as the culprit.

Suggestions? Thoughts?


About Frank Noschese

HS Physics Teacher constantly questioning my teaching.

5 responses to “Day 165: All Boys. Again.”

  1. Sue VanHattum says :

    Can you tell us more about what changed? I’m shocked that it was 50/50, and has come to be all boys.

  2. Anonymous says :

    No suggestions about this but I am also wondering what changed? Maybe you can pinpoint something that is the cause or are there too many variables?

  3. dethornSTEM says :

    While I don’t know of anything related to women in physics, "Unlocking the Clubhouse" (Margolis and Fisher, 2003) is a sociological treatment of women in computing, or lack thereof. Some of the observations carry over to physics. For example, they found that girls tend to understate their abilities while boys overstate them, and physics is perceived as difficult. It’s also these issues have taken effect further up the chain, and fewer girls than boys have the requisite calculus background by the end of junior year. This can be the effect of taking a more advanced math class as far back as middle school.

  4. Anonymous says :

    So many changes….Original course was "Phys/Calc" — Mechanics only, 1 period every day, back-to-back with a section of AP Calc AB (same kids, same room, different teacher). Incoming kids came from an AP Physics B class that was taught by a man who was also the science olympiad coach (teacm was about 50/50 IIRC) and taught the class with lots of labs.Teacher Changes: AP Physics B/Science Olympiad coach leaves our high school and we hire another teacher. Course Changes: School starts offering Calc BC, so Calc AB section detaches from AP Physics C so physics can accomodate kids in both AB and BC. AP Physics C then expands to include E&M (after I took Matter & Interactions for teachers) and also gains an alternate day lab period.School Changes: There is an increasing number of honor students who choose to skip physics in their junior year and take AP Environmental, AP Bio, or AP Chem instead … possibly to preserve their GPA. Since Physics C is a second year course, this is another limiting reagent.I think the low female enrollment the first year may have been a fluke, but a fluke from which enrollment did not recover.But now I’m looking at the current rosters for College-Prep Physics (3 teachers, all sections) .. 50/50. Yet the current rosters for AP Physics B are lopsided: 2 boys for each girl. But I’m not sure if that’s been a trend. I’ll have to do some investigating.

  5. Conor says :

    It’s looking similarly bleak for me next year. 1 girl, 6 boys. This year I had a much better mix, 7 girls 5 boys. My big limitation on who I can take in AP Physics year to year seems to be the math courses. What is the gender split in the AP math courses? When does that split kick in?

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