for the NSBP and NSHP to touch bases to share common concerns. The two societies have been meeting jointly since 2004, and the meeting brings together as many as 600 attendees from primarily under-represented (African-Americana and Hispanic-American) groups. Approximately half of these are students.
Student programming provides career advice, mentoring, academic support, networking, and development. Typically the professional sessions have focused talks that are accessible to undergraduates. Many of our students have their first professional presentation as a contributed oral or poster presentation at the Joint NSBP/NSHP meeting. For this reason the posters are judged and the student presenters are given ample feedback about their presentation and research.
In addition, students interact with faculty and students from other schools at the common meals. For many it is their first experience with large cohorts of students with similar backgrounds, challenges, and needs.
At the Joint NSBP/NSHP 2011 meeting in Austin, women made up 30% of the 248 students and 28% of the 167 professionals attending, and 25% of the papers presented were by women (tentative numbers based on preliminary registrations, data still under analysis).
Dr. Sharon Fries-Britt and her research team have conducted student interviews at the Joint NSBP/NSHP meeting as a systematic scholarly study of minority STEM majors. Two book chapters based on this research have been accepted for publication. One chapter, Lessons from High Achieving Minorities in Physics (Fries-Britt, Younger, & Hall), will appear in New Directions for Higher Education. The second book chapter, Underrepresented Minorities in Physics: How Perceptions of Race and Campus Climate Affect Student Outcomes (Fries-Britt, Younger, & Hall), will appear in Managing Diversity: (Re)Visioning Equity on College Campuses.
In their evaluations, or in interviews with PER researchers, students frequently mention the Joint conferences as fundamental to their progress in physics.
I’ve learned that in this field networking is really important. I really didn’t know how to network until I came to this conference and by attending various conferences like this I am able to connect with other students and then learn about internship opportunities or just meet other people in my field and that’s hard to do on my campus because I come from a small physics department, so there is only like four of us in my program, so we can’t really do much networking among ourselves.
—Female undergraduate, 2007
Well with me, coming here is very important. I go to an all white school in *** and there were a lot of racial problems on campus … so that along with my school stuff made it really stressful at times, you know … and so when I come here and find other students going through similar situations, it kinda motivates me and helps me know that we can help and encourage one another and get our work done and get through school, I mean just being [at the Conference] is just really important to me.
—Male undergraduate, 2005
My peers are really important to me. They tend to help you push a little bit harder […] and just like by coming here and interacting with other students, it’s like I have been able to overcome some of my limitations […] and then it kinda helps me learn how to interact