Words by Dr. Aline Tavares Melo
In a historical act, the Brazilian Association of Women in Geosciences (Associação Brasileira de Mulheres nas Geociências - ABMG) was created on August 21st, 2018 in a meeting with approximately 150 people during the 49th Brazilian Geology Conference held in Rio de Janeiro.
The association co-founders, which were also voted to form the first board of directors, are Lila Queiroz (Brazilian Geological Survey - CPRM), Aline Tavares (Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais - UFMG), Larissa Lago (Pontifícia Universidade Católica - PUC Rio de Janeiro), Leticia Freitas (Universidade de São Paulo - USP), Luciana Felicio (Brazilian Geological Survey - CPRM), Mariana Ferreira (Sociedade Brasileira de Geologia - SBG Brasília), Rosaline Silva (Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais - UFMG) and the Glaucia Cuchierato (GeoAnsata).
The idea was born from the meeting of a small group of women in geosciences at UFMG, where Prof. Lucia Fantinel mentioned that the last national meeting was in 1978. The group then decided to organize another national meeting, 40 years later, to discuss progress and challenges of women in geosciences in Brazil. However, through the social media group formed to organize the meeting, many stories of sexism, gender discrimination, harassment, and abuse were reported. In face of these cases, the need of a formal organization to fight for the end of these situations and for gender equality has arisen.
The main objective of the association is to promote the integration of women in geosciences in Brazil and fight for gender equality. The founders intend to provide a network to support women who have been victims of harassment while working in geosciences, whether in industry, university or government. The Association is going to form committees to develop gender equality, regional, and educational policies.
Lila Queiroz reports that this movement started a long time ago, but "In the last five years, groups of women have been formed all over the country with the focus of fighting for gender equality in geosciences and now we became a national organization. Men and women recognize the importance of founding ABMG, including the president of the Brazilian Geology Society who mentioned our meeting during his conference opening speech. We are very proud to be a part of this historic date", she commented.
The Association bylaw was written with the collaboration of women from different groups across Brazil, who were also present in the meeting. The geophysicist Ana Patricia, who was present in the meeting, supports the initiative: "I find it very important, because we still have a lot to conquer regarding gender equality," she commented.
Another participant, Manoela Paz, tells that she has been victim of harassment and supports the creation of the association: "I've been subject of harassment in the company I used to work for and the case was ignored. I felt very bad and helpless. I hope the Association reinforce the change of this type of behavior by employees and companies", she commented.
For Cinara Santos, member of the CPRM Gender Equality Committee, the initiative will promote empowerment and contribute to diminish inequalities and increase women's opportunities in industry. ABMG plans to organize conferences, exhibitions, courses, seminars, workshops, and lectures for promoting the flow of new scientific knowledge and the discussion of best equality practices. The Association also intends to strengthen, promote, develop and support policies for ethnic and racial equality.