Celebrating the 10th Anniversary of FemPhys!

This coming fall will mark the 10th anniversary of FemPhys, and looking back on the club’s growth and achievements throughout the past decade is truly amazing. FemPhys, which stands for Feminist Physics, aims to build community by and for marginalized people in physics and related fields, including, but not limited to, women, queer and trans, racialized, Indigenous, poor, and disabled people. The idea of FemPhys came to fruition during the 2014 International Conference for Women in Physics. The co-founders Emma McKay, Sarah Kaiser and Jennifer Reid were discussing over lunch many of the difficult and distressing positions they have been in over the course of their academic careers, and the idea of helping women and marginalized people in physics and related fields by starting a club and providing resources and supportive spaces was proposed, and come Fall 2014, FemPhys was born! 

FemPhys Coloured LogoThe very first few events included the iconic Tea & Talks and Mentoring Night, both of which are still being held regularly, as well as philosophical discussions and self-care workshops. In 2016, with PhysClub moving to its current location in the clubs hallway in STC, FemPhys acquired PhysClub’s old club room in the main Physics building, and the FemPhys room has been the cozy room with plants and tea in the Physics building ever since!

Upon asking the members what FemPhys means to them, the one word that almost everyone mentions is “community”. One member says FemPhys “is my safe space, and has provided me comfort through my academics and through community”, and another member adds that the club “is a space where people care about one another… in a time where it’s really hard to connect to people”. This sentiment is not surprising at all, as alongside the big events such as Queer and Trans Science Meetup, and the weekly events like Tea & Talk, the FemPhys room is usually open during the week and very welcoming.

Yet, there is another reason why the club members feel so strongly about their love for FemPhys community, and why the club’s main goal is to cultivate such a community - the culture of physics (and academia as a whole) can be toxic, and underrepresented groups in the field faces some sort of discrimination and exclusion. As any of our members’ rummage through the club’s library full of sci-fi and feminist philosophy of science books; look through the items on the shelves, from menstrual products to craft supplies; read the signs and posters up on the walls; and join in to the conversations that take place everyday, they will truly understand what FemPhys’ spirit is - a radical hope and desire to create a caring community in physics for all.

Indeed, there is something truly special about FemPhys, and the fact that the club is still flourishing ten years later is a testament to the hard work and effort that each member has put into our community and to the support of faculty who have helped FemPhys get to where it is now. Here’s to many more years ahead!