Despite decades of research into the gender disparity in physics education and physics practice, the underrepresentation of women in physics persists today. In physics education research, this gender disparity has been constructed as problematic, and numerous approaches from a variety of perspectives have been taken to both research and address it. In this paper, we explore the framings that have been used to motivate study of the underrepresentation of women in physics and the implications these framings have for introductory physics educators. We wish to acknowledge in the framing of this paper that the use of the term “underrepresentation” has prompted a specific characterization of the issues women face in physics (one of low numbers) and the responses (attempts to increase numbers). As its use is pervasive in the research into sex, gender, and physics, we continue here with the term underrepresentation, but suggest that “minoritization” might more appropriately signal the history of structural and institutional actions in physics cultures that have limited access for White and racialized women.

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