In 1978, through the Committee on the Status of Women in Physics (CSWP), which is part of the American Physical Society (APS), women in plasma physics started to organize events at the annual APS Division of Plasma Physics (DPP) meeting. The first reception was organized in 1979 and informal luncheons were organized to promote a dialogue among women who were performing research in plasma physics. The reception attracted mostly women and later on, the invitation was extended to men, to involve them in the challenges women were facing in the Plasma Physics community. Starting in 2000 after the creation of the Committee on Women in Plasma Physics (CWPP), the luncheons became an fixed feature of the annual APS-DPP meeting and the APS-DPP provides financial support for graduate students to attend. These lunches provide a social and networking opportunity for young scientists where discussion is encouraged and a woman from the plasma physics community is invited to share some of her experiences and answer questions.
In 1980, there was only a roster of 41 women in plasma physics. Historically, plasma physics has always trailed physics when it comes to female participation. For example, from 1996-1999 only 4% of the Ph.D.s in Plasma Physics were awarded to women, whereas for physics as a general area, the percentage was 13%. This indicated a clear need to provide a focal point on women in Plasma Physics and was part of the motivation behind creating CWPP. More recent statistics can be found under statistics on this website.
The Katherine E. Weimer award was established in 2001 to recognize women in an early stage of their career and is awarded every 3 years. Aside from this award, women have been recognized by the society and have become APS fellows, received the Marshall N. Rosenbluth Outstanding Doctoral Thesis Award, the John Dawson Award for Excellence in Plasma Physics Research , the Thomas H. Stix Award for Outstanding Early Career Contributions to Plasma Physics Research and in 2016, for the first time in over 40 years, a women was awarded the James Clerk Maxwell Prize for Plasma Physics.