Physicists and failure
In reply to a post on the physicsworld.com blog about the central role of failure in physics (“Success, failure and women in physics”, 10 June; see also “Failing better,” Editorial, July 2015).
Thank you for this article that explains the attitude of physicists towards failure. I specialized in physics from advanced level onwards, and I was curious about failed experiments – trying to figure out why they failed – rather than feeling like a “failure”. It takes parents and teachers to create that sense of personal worth. That is where the quality of the home and the educator begins to matters.
If, in fact, girls do have a problem with failure, then perhaps they should play more baseball – a sport where failing seven times out of 10 can still get you in the Hall of Fame with a .300 batting average. In other words, there could be cultural reasons why boys may be more comfortable with failure than girls, and have a history of working on developing skills and attitudes to overcome failures, or at least to improve results and diminish failed outcomes. These are important character traits to possess at even the entry level of careers in science.