These societies and initiatives are made up of fantastic people all working hard to help young women pursue and sustain a career in the geosciences, in addition to offering support to those already in the field. If you are interested in getting involved, or are a woman in geoscience looking for additional support, please visit any of the societies' websites.
Erika Marin Spiotta, Rebecca T. Barnes, Aisha R. Morris
In fields where women and people of colour are underrepresented, informal networks reduce feelings of isolation and facilitate opportunities for career advancement. The Earth Science Women's Network (ESWN) started in 2002 as a group of six graduate students and today is a non-profit organization supporting over 3000 members through online and in-person community building and professional development.
For many, the network is the only work-related space where they are not the only woman. The ESWN website, developed with support from the National Science Foundation (NSF), provides password-protected discussion boards for members to solicit and share career and personal advice. ESWN is contributing to efforts to shift public perception of scientists through member spotlights that highlight individual accomplishments and career trajectories and a new social media campaign, Science-A-Thon.
ESWN serves the broader community through professional development workshops at conferences and a free ES_JOBS_NET listserv. ESWN Board Members are leading two current NSF-funded projects to increase the recruitment of college women into the geosciences and other STEM majors (PROGRESS) and to improve work climate (ADVANCE GEO Partnership). With the Association for Women Geoscientists and the American Geophysical Union, ESWN is empowering the geoscience community to reduce harassment and bullying.
By providing access to information, mentors, and advocates, networks like ESWN advance individual careers and catalyze cultural and institutional change. A more inclusive scientific and educational enterprise is critical for the development of creative solutions to our world’s energy and environmental challenges.
Jodie Fisher, Sarah Boulton
Think of a pilot, or a doctor or a scientist. What do they look like? The chances are that you thought of a white middle–aged male, probably wearing a white lab coat. This social stereotype is known as unconscious bias. Everyone does it based upon our background, culture and experiences. Geologists face the stereotype of a lone man climbing a mountain with a rock hammer – clearly not a modern scientist yet female students are still told that geology is not for girls.
As a result of this bias, Earth Sciences degrees at UK universities typically recruit around 30% female compared to 70% male students. One way to limit the impact of unconscious biases is to challenge the stereotypes, and there are many organisations across the country already doing this, particularly for women in the STEM disciplines. Soapbox Science, Trowel Blazers and Finding Ada, to name a few, are working hard to raise the profile of women in science and inspire the next generation. However, we didn’t know of any event or organisation tackling the low numbers of females entering the Earth Sciences and Geology in the UK.
So four and half years ago, we decided to start an event that showcased the range of careers and possibilities open to women in the Earth Sciences – and Girls into Geoscience (GiG) was born. The ethos behind GiG is to inspire girls and to show them just how much women in STEM can do, through a day of talks and workshops. In the morning, we have female geoscientists from industry and academia talking about how they got into science and what their job involves. Over the years we have had petroleum exploration experts, mining geologists, engineering geologists, academics, and a teacher visit to share their exciting and rewarding careers. The afternoon session is run by female academics, researchers, and technicians from the Earth Science subject area at the University of Plymouth. The visiting students can choose two of four workshops to find out more about topics that interest them.
Providing role models is essential at an event such as GiG. We put women at the forefront, counteracting the fact that women in STEM are often less visible than their male counterparts and have found that hearing how other women have made geoscience their career can often make a career in science seem more real and achievable.
Girls Into Geoscience was held at the University of Plymouth on 3-4 July 2017.
Ana Vila-Concejo, Hannah E Power, Irene Delgado-Fernandez, Emilia Guisado-Pintado
The International network for Women in Coastal Geosciences and Engineering (WICGE) was launched in March 2016 and is a global network that aims to inspire, support, and celebrate women in coastal geoscience and engineering (CGE).
For years, we had observed how male-dominated our field was and in particular, the lack of women in senior or highly-visible roles. We had noted all male discussion panels, all male keynote speakers, and despite our unchanged observations, had been told repeatedly how things were changing. Yet the reality was that things had not changed much at all. It was clear that something needed to be done, so we brought together a group of women, mostly in tenured positions, at different stages of their careers and in different parts of the world.
Diversity was important and so we invited those who reflected different career paths and backgrounds, to better understand the variety of hurdles that women in CGE face. Our group had women from North and South America, Europe, and Oceania, spanning the globe. With this group of women as the committee, we launched the WICGE network at the International Coastal Symposium in Sydney. This was the first time that a woman had chaired the ICS so it was a perfect opportunity to launch the network.
We showcase positive steps towards achieving gender equity in our field and celebrate the achievements of great women in CGE that inspire the rest of us. Though we are a very young network, we have achieved something great by starting a positive conversation that highlights gender inequalities and suggests possible solutions. We have held several WICGE events at international conferences, designed to raise awareness and share experiences, to discuss practical solutions and to allow people to learn from each other in a positive and safe environment.
To date, WICGE has been run voluntarily. Moving forward, we aim to have someone in a dedicated role to expand and co-ordinate WICGE actions. But for that we need funding, more diversity, and women and men from all parts of the world to help us to become a global voice.
In 2012, the seeds of a movement were sown when a handful of women began discussing ways in which professional women in GIS could come together as a group to facilitate networking, provide support to each other and foster the advancement of geospatial science. Over the next few years, we invited GIS professionals to attend meetings and provide input regarding how our vision for Women in GIS could support their professional needs and goals. Interest and energy in WiGIS has been growing steadily since then - attendance at Esri UC meetings has exceeded 100 people over the last couple of years, and the WiGIS Story Map now features over 4,500 women from all over the globe!
As a result of this momentum, a core team of organizers banded together to develop the WiGIS advocacy and education group. Among other activities, we have invested in a website, have formed committees, and are shaping what we hope to be a highly successful mentorship program. Activities of the organization include social gatherings, professional development and educational events and opportunities for networking. WiGIS is an international, professional, and social organization as well as an advocacy group for women and their allies. The consortium is made up of advocates from academia, government and private industry. The aim of WIGIS is to serve as a safe place for women from all geospatial fields to: work towards overcoming job discrimination, lower pay, professional isolation, and other common barriers women might face, and foster relationships and resource sharing among members and institutions.
In early 2018, WiGIS plans to offer paid members unique and targeted networking and mentorship opportunities among other benefits. In July, we plan to have a greater presence at ESRI’s User Conference in San Diego. Visit our website to learn the details as they develop.
Ndivhuwo Cecilia Mukosi
The YES Network is an international Non-Profit organization of early-career Earth Scientists from universities, geoscience organizations and companies all over the world, which was set up in UNESCO headquarters, Paris, France as the legacy of the International Year of Planet Earth in 2007. Now there are more than 5000 members from 120 countries, and 49 national committees working together to practice our vision, which is to 'Promote Young Earth Scientists for Society'.
In keeping with our goal to assist early-career Earth Scientists from around the globe to advance earth science research and to promote individual networking and personal development, the YES Network hosts yearly activities. Last year's activity was held in 2016 during the 35th International Geological Congress, in Cape Town. The YES Network had several sessions, which included our annual general meeting and a field trip of the surrounding Cape Town area. The Network will be hosting several sessions in 2018 during the Resource for Future Generations Conference (RFG); in addition some of the Executives will be conveners in other sessions. The next YES Congress will be held in 2019 in Germany.