Why there are so few female earth scientists ( and this is how to change it)

This topic is very alive and well among earth scientists showing the large turnout during the workshop at the Earth Science Congress (NACGEO). Led by Anouk Creusen and Tamara van de Ven and an enthusiastic panel (Femke Vossepoel, Konstantina Katsanou and Joep Storms), topics such as application procedures, visibility and communication were discussed.

The workshop was hosted by KNGMG on empowering girls to become the geoscientist of tomorrow. The workshop was part of the ENGIE project of EIT -European Institute of Innovation and Technology. For many years we observe that females are well attended by earth sciences studies but there is still a lack of female earth scientist at universities and earth sciences professions.

All participants (m/f/x) feel that the outflow of women from the profession is a problem for society as a whole.

A difficult question is how to prevent this outflow.

In earth science vacancies, generally more men respond and fewer women. One solution is to have vacancies written by women or to remove the name and gender when evaluating letters and resumes. Again, the latter poses difficulties because how do you describe your maternity leave without giving an impression about your gender? It is also touched upon that women should be more visible and respond to vacancies even if they do not meet all the requirements. 

In addition, the division of roles within a relationship is also discussed where caring tasks and social interaction always fall even more on the woman's plate, no matter how good the man's intentions.

The emphasis is still too often on adjusting women's behavior. Most participants agreed. It is not a problem of only the women but of the whole society. Change is therefore needed from both men and women.


The workshop concluded with some golden tips from the panel:

- Who you know is at least as important as what you can do. So network, even outside your own organization

- Talk to your partner, don't wait because only together can you ensure that work and private life are divided fairly. This is not in the interest of all women, enough men also want to share care and understand that this is only normal.

- Apply even if you do not meet 120% of the requirements of a position, many men do so even if they have only half of the required capabilities or experience.


By Tamara van de Ven


Log in to read and post comments

GAIA works together with