This initiative arose once we started counting the number of men versus women at workshops and conferences. An astoundingly small percentage of invited speakers and session chairs were women, despite larger percentages of women (albeit still relatively underrepresented) in the audience. There are qualified women out there who can also fill these roles—what can we do to promote their involvement?
The literature has noted how for younger geoscientists, there is much less of a gender gap than at later career stages (SEG TLE, 2014). How do we retain women in geoscience careers?
Exploration '17 provided an invaluable forum to connect with fellow professional, qualified female geoscientists. It has since become our goal to elevate these women, to promote them and their science, and to encourage them to continue careers in geology, geophysics, and geochemistry.
For more details, read our business plan.
Graph adapted from Sprunt et al. (SEG TLE, 2014)
Short term (2018–2019)
Compile statistics. What is the situation like now? What are current gender targets in various organizations?
Research. What barriers do women face currently? What concerns do women have?
Promote opportunities to speak, chair, and be involved with non-profit organizations, committees, and conferences
Medium term (2019–2025)
Advocate for better representation of women at conferences and symposiums
Ensure diversity of speakers and chairs
Propose childcare at conferences and advocate for sponsorship; provide list of childcare services nearby
Engage professional societies to recognize the importance of gender balance
Provide career "boosts" through networking opportunities and mentorship programs
Support parents pre- and post-parental leave (including work re-entry) by providing ways to approach and discuss with employers
Liaison with professional licensing bodies and professional societies to offer discounted rates to new parents
Long term (2025–2028+)
Check in at Exploration '27. How are we doing compared to 2017–2018?
Reevaluate our research and statistics from the first year
Continue supporting, encouraging, and engaging women in geoscience careers
As people in technical roles, we face additional challenges, such as odd schedules, which make it difficult to meet in person. Therefore, we started an online discussion community on Slack. We encourage everyone to join the Slack community and introduce yourself in the #introductions channel.
The online community is a safe place, where any topic may be discussed, ranging from work/life balance, parental leave and work re-entry, advice on career progression, to advertising speaking and networking opportunities.
At any stage in our careers, mentorship relationships are an opportunity to have an open line of communication with someone who wants to see you grow as both a person and in your career, and is willing to provide guidance, feedback and advice along the way. A mentorship program is part of our strategy to retain women in geoscience careers in the long-term.
In 2018, we are drafting the mentorship program. Please sign up for our newsletter to stay updated on the program.
To achieve our goal of gender parity for speakers, chairs, and organizers at major conferences, we have identified two main barriers from conversations with our members.
The first is that most conference organizations do not seem to recognize a lack of diversity or are not attuned to recognizing it.
The second is that, when recognized, conference organizations are unsure of who to invite. WGC strives to advertise these opportunities and encourage our members to get involved, and remind organizations of the benefits of diversity and gender balance.