Apologies for the pause in our Seabed Habitats Seminar Series, we hope to find more speakers, increase collaboration and scientific engagement in the coming year. (Plus I have also been working on the Challenger Society for Marine Science’s Early Career Researcher Seminar Series.) Meanwhile, the GeoHab Habitat Mapping conference will take place in Venice, Italy in 16-20 May 2022 and is a wonderful opportunity to learn about the latest scientific developments from leading scientists in marine habitat mapping including a workshop on “Ocean mapping in the Anthropocene: new technologies and Artificial Intelligence (AI) tools.” It’s quite a challenge as an independent marine scientist, but I hope to present at this conference this year and have submitted an abstract before the deadline! It is possible for Masters and PhD students to apply for support to attend the conference (see Student Awards page on the GeoHab website).
I would like to acknowledge and thank the Challenger Society for Marine Science, for the Stepping Stones Bursary Award, to make participation possible. Their support is much appreciated.
Join us for a film screening of “Coral Woman” with Q&A with special guest Uma Mani. This is a filmmaker’s journey with Uma, an artist who paints coral reefs, a certified scuba diver, exploring the underwater world & the threat to coral reefs of Gulf of Mannar, India. Born in a traditional family in Tamil Nadu, 53 year old Uma, a homemaker, has been trying to bring attention to this alarming environmental issue through her paintings. It is, in fact, these corals that inspired Uma to learn how to swim, dive & paint in her 50s. Coral Woman is aboutUma’s efforts to address the threat to coral reefs from bleaching, industrial pollution and climate change. The screening will take place on Tuesday 28th December at 1300 GMT, followed by a Q&A with Uma Mani! Please register below for the link and occasional updates and join us for this very special event.
Introducing the Seabed Habitats Seminar Series 2021!!
This is a series of 12 online talks on various seabed habitats held on zoom on the last Tuesday of each month. For 2021, I have decided to organise this series of 12 online talks on various seabed habitats held on zoom on the last Tuesday of each month.
This January, Prof. Jason Hall-Spencer of Plymouth University will be starting us off on this journey through the marine realm, speaking about the “Effects of carbon dioxide on seabed habitats.” Jason is a Professor of Marine Biology at Plymouth University in the UK and specialises in the impacts of a high CO2 world on our seas and oceans.
Join us on 26th January 1300 GMT at this Zoom Link (please sign up or email me for the password) and keep in touch with future webinar announcements by filling the form below. Your email will only be used for webinar announcements/ occasional reminders and to inform of any changes to the schedule.
If you are a scientist or conservationist who would like to become a speaker in this future months of 2021, please do not hesitate to get in touch by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org .
Roundtable Seminar on Steps to Improve Gender Diversity in Marine and Coastal Geoscience and Engineering, NOCS by Women in Coastal Geoscience and Engineering and The Challenger Society for Marine Science at National Oceanography Centre Southampton.
A group of international female geoscientists including NUI Galway, have taken a close look at their profession and discovered the barriers to success, while also pinpointing the sometimes simple changes that can be made to attract more women into innovative industries. The revealing results are published today (4 September) in Nature Publishing Group’s social sciences journal, Palgrave Communications.
The researchers are part of the committee for the international network working for Women in Coastal Geoscience and Engineering (WICGE), spanning Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, France, the United Kingdom, Mexico and Spain. They found that although women make up almost a third of the coastal geoscience and engineering community, they represent only about one in five of its prestige roles.
Coastal geoscience and engineering (CGE) encompasses professionals working on coastal processes, integrating expertise across physics, geomorphology, engineering, planning and management. This study presents novel results of gender inequality and experiences of gender bias in CGE, and proposes practical steps to address it.
The study entitled ‘Steps to improve gender diversity in coastal geoscience and engineering’ saw the international team of researchers analyse the gender representation in the boards and committees of nine societies, 25 journals, and 10 conferences. Additionally, the scientists launched a global survey and obtained responses from 314 people.
Co-author of the study, Dr Siddhi Joshi from the School of Geography and Archaeology at NUI Galway, said: “Robust data on gender diversity is often scarce and studies like this are key building blocks for change. As a new female post-doctoral researcher in the coastal geosciences and engineering, it’s very important to get the support you need to deal with challenges such as microagressions (derogative comments or actions that are indirect). Networks such as WICGE and the Irish Association for Women in Geoscience, provides this support.”
Key findings from the study:
• Women represent 30% of the international coastal geoscience engineering community, yet there is underrepresentation in prestige roles such as journal editorial board members (15% women) and conference organisers (18% women).
• Female underrepresentation is less prominent when the path to prestige roles is clearly outlined and candidates can self-nominate or volunteer instead of the traditional invitation-only pathway
• By analysing the views of 314 survey respondents (34% male, 65% female, and 1% ‘other’), the study found that 81% perceive the lack of female role models as a key hurdle for gender equity, and a significantly larger proportion of females (47%) felt held back in their career due to gender in comparison with males (9%)
Lead and corresponding author of the study, Professor Ana Vila-Concejo, Associate Professor and co-leader of the University of Sydney’s Geocoastal Research Group and deputy director of the One Tree Island Research Station on Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, said the solutions and suggestions were relevant for women in science and more generally.
Professor Ana Vila-Concejo, commented: “Our findings are important not only for our field of research but also for other fields in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, and beyond. Reading the survey responses was harder than we had anticipated. We found flagrant examples of inequality that included dramatic decisions such as an early career researcher deciding to undergo an abortion out of fear of jeopardising her chances of securing an academic position.”
Examples of What is Holding Women Back
Gender stereotyping was amongst the most common manifestation of inequality in coastal geoscience and engineering roles. Stereotyping of women working in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) as not being as competent (or being incompetent), and not being taken seriously, is a key theme.
The existence of the “boys club” – in the experience of one survey respondent: “During a job interview, the lead engineer (male) was explaining how they have the ‘boys club’ here at the office. They did offer me the job, but I didn’t want to work in that type of environment.”
The “maternal wall” results from expectations that a woman’s job performance is affected by her having children.
Microaggressions and harassment – being overlooked and ignored in favour of male colleagues was a key issue, for example, one respondent noted: “Getting my first big grant and employing a male post-doctoral – our project partners treated him as the boss.” While another recalled comments about looks, such as “comments on my ‘pretty face’ being an asset for attracting clients”.
• Advocate for more women in prestige roles.
• Promote high-achieving females.
• Create awareness of gender bias.
• Speak up.
• Get better support for return-to-work.
• Redefine success.
• Encourage more women to enter the discipline at a young age.
Shari Gallop from Macquarie University, said: “The first four steps we recommend can be successfully implemented immediately, while others need institutional engagement and represent major societal overhauls.”
We are a network of women working in coastal geoscience, engineering across academia, industry and government. While gender equality is an issue across many disciplines, it is a particular problem in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics). In marine-related sciences, anecdotal evidence suggests that gender inequality may be most prevalent in coastal geoscience and engineering. This is often apparent at conferences with no female keynotes, a general lack of representation on committees and panels, and few women in senior positions in academia and industry.
The contributing organisations for this study include the University of Sydney, Macquarie University, NUI Galway, University of Wollongong, Bournemouth University, University of Waikato, Edge Hill University, University of Seville, Flinders University, University of Baja California, University of Newcastle, University of Bordeaux, UNSW Sydney. This blog post is based on the NUI Galway/University of Sydney joint press release.