Status of Women in the Geosciences

Ioana StefanescuFriend of WISE, Dr. Roy Plotnick, WISE student, Ionana Steanescu (pictured at left) and Dr. Alycia L. Stigall of Ohio University (whose lab alumni include former WISE Chic President Jennifer Bauer), have published a paper on the status of women in the geosciences by examining who has been presenting at the North American Paleontological Convention (NAPC). NAPC is held every four to five years and is the one conference where all the different flavors of geoscience gather together.

What they found is that participation of women has increased over the years and that this increase is due to collaboration. Women’s increase in presenting at the meeting is not reducing men’s participation as 90% of the abstracts included a male name. This does mean that women were more likely to be part of a group of presenters than to be solo authors. The other finding of note is that the increase in women’s representation appears to be attributable to an increase in student authorship.

While the news is good in the geosciences in terms of women’s participation in this specific and important meeting, the authors do note that there is still a lack of women in leadership positions and being keynote speakers. This speaks to one aspect of WISE’s work. While we want to see the number of women go up in STEM, we also want to see women’s role in leading their respective fields go up as well.

Evolution of paleontology: Long-term gender trends in an earth-science discipline
Roy E. Plotnick, Alycia L. Stigall, Ioana Stefanescu