17 schools surveyed

A DUNDALK woman secured a place at a top international physics conference after conducting a study on 17 schools in Co Louth.

A DUNDALK woman secured a place at a top international physics conference after conducting a study on 17 schools in Co Louth.

Originally from Newtownbalregan, Sanda currently lives in Windmill Court, Dundalk, and works as a physics teacher in Ardee Community School.

Sandra, who also lectures once a week in NUI Maynooth on physics methods, was chosen to join the Irish team at the 4th International Conference on Women in Physics.

The international conference took place in Stellenbosch, South Africa from April 5-8. Sandra had to assist in the preparation and presentation of a paper on women in physics in Ireland.

“I had to carry out research on the physics departments of 17 secondary schools in Co Louth and examine the impact of the gender of the teacher,” said Sandra.

“I studied the influence of the educators on the prevalence of girls studying physics in Louth. Five of the schools were co-ed with male physics teachers.

“Five co-ed schools had a female physics teacher. The study revealed that girls are more likley to do physics if the school has a female physics teacher.”

Sandra added: “The survey shows that a female role model is of great influence as strong female role models lead to an increase in girls’ participation in physics.”

The study carried out by Sandra in Louth schools has subsequently been used as a model to examine the impact of female lecturers in universities.

The studies on six Irish unversities revealed that male supervisors of research students had 18% female postgraduates, whereas female academics had an average of 38% postgraduates.

“It was a great honour to have been selected for the conference in South Africa,” she said.