As part of GeoWeek, students and staff from Aberystwyth University Department of Geography and Earth Sciences discussed women in Geography and Geoscience. We wanted to know what challenges are faced specifically by women in science and by Geowomen, and how they can be overcome. We discussed our motivations and inspirations, gender balance in different research networks, challenges faced specifically by women in academia, and the importance of role models.
Most people said that there were few women in senior positions. Sarah observed that this has not changed in the last decade. Some people have very supportive female research networks.
It seems that women may be disproportionally affected by short term contracts and a lack of stability, perhaps because they still do the majority of the caring and child care. Women may be less assertive or have imposter syndrome, and supervisors and senior academics must be aware of this. Fieldwork becomes difficult if women have children, and childcare may affect a woman’s ability to do long field seasons more than a man’s. Women in science may also still be affected by sexism, although this does not generally seem to be a significant problem.
Role models were seen as important, but they needed to be someone you could relate to. A female supervisor was seen as a positive thing, although male supervisors can also be good mentors.
The discussion then came back to working practices; flexibility is important, but workloads remain high. These issues affect men and women in academia and in other professions. Perhaps a wider, societal change is needed. We all want to go and live with Ruth Mottram in Denmark.
Our hour-long discussion is here in full below: