A gender inversion for the Solvay picture at the 103th annual congress of SIF

By . Published on 26 September 2017 in:
News, September 2017, , , ,

Within the annual congress of the Italian Physical Society (SIF) the entire morning of September 14 was dedicated to two very interesting round tables, one  organized by the University of Trento  (Chiara La Tessa and Alessandra Saletti) on “Research: which opportunities are there  for women” and another organized organized by SIF (Luisa Cifarelli) on “Physics, singular feminine”.

To attract the press on these timely problems Alessandra Saletti organized  a special photo shoot with 28 female physicists attending the SIF congress and only one male  (Guido Tonelli). The setting for this picture intended to reproduce, with an inversion in gender, the picture taken in 1917 at the famous Fifth Solvay  Conference for Physics and Chemistry, where Marie Curie was the only female.  This idea was born as a willingness of Luisa Cifarelli to celebrate 120 years of SIF, since its foundation in Rome in 1897, and of Lorenzo Pavesi, the Director of the Physics Department of Trento University, to celebrate 90 years since the 5th Solvay Conference.

The purpose of  this nice initiative was twofold: to promote the presence of women in science and to inform the general public that  women constitute already now an important presence in the physics community.  In contrast with the serious expressions appearing  in the 1917 picture, smiling faces are in the 2017 picture in spite of the fact that it was about to rain…

The positive message launched by this initiative had reached the public and indeed there was a large echo in the Italian press with articles in the major newspapers and presentations even in the national television channels. 

As a final remark I like to say that this venture was successful in  combining a profound respect for the history of physics and a sober awareness of the problems still to be tackled.

The hope is that for future generations this Trento photo will only recall on a solved gender problem.

  1. EPS Emmy Noether Distinction Spring-Summer 2017 for Women in Physics
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