As representatives of the E-DIAL team, we attended the European Geosciences Union General Assembly (23-27th May 2022) and presented our work through two talks in the EDI session (EOS3.1): ‘Promoting and supporting equality, diversity and inclusion in the geosciences’. This two-day session was intended to explore reasons for the under-representation of different groups (cultural, national, gender, etc.) by bringing together scientists, decision makers and policy analysts in the geosciences.
The session kicked off with presentations on existing positive actions to address diversity and inclusion such as linking continents through the Erasmus+ Capacity building progamme (Nuvunga et al., 2022), outreach and widening participation (e.g. ‘A touch of space weather’ to develop teaching in complex STEM topics for high-school teachers; Zychova et al., 2022), tackling representation in fieldwork (e.g. ‘FindAScienceBerth’ to connect underrepresented groups in marine science and enable their participation in off-shore research; Fisher et al., 2022) and an innovative digital technology platform that would allow wider access to analytical infrastructure by connecting geoscience researchers with labs (Raji et al., 2022). Additionally, there were innovative approaches to inclusivity utilising digital technologies to broaden participation in marine science for those who cannot access offshore fieldwork (McGregor et al., 2022).
On the second day, the session started with results of gender equity actions that the European Research Council (ERC) recently employed in its funding schemes (Jesus-Rydin et al., 2022). The results clearly showed that both the women applicant pool as well as women awardees increased through various specific actions, one of which was to allow time for career breaks such as maternity leave. The gender equity actions helped improve (cis) women representation in awarded ERC grants. Tackling underrepresentation in grants success is essential to promote diversity as the academic progression and recognition trajectories of an individual are dependent on research grant income. We were also confronted with some hard truth about sexism that our colleagues (from all extremes of the gender spectrum) are facing today, possibly rooted in binary gender stereotypes. The production of accessible material such as comic strips is an incredibly powerful tool to highlight the issues (Perez Diaz et al., 2022). Also, there were everyday tips that a workplace can follow to make the environment welcoming for diverse staff (Vehkamäki et al., 2022). After the coffee break, data on the lack of female recipients of academic awards were presented (Krause and Gehmlich, 2022). Since the data were based on web scraping methods, pronouns were used to represent binary gender in geoscience and cardiology disciplines. The data showed that for awards named after women and/or unnamed, a higher proportion of female scientists won the award compared to when awards were named after men. There were a few presentations that focussed on capturing diversity amongst presenters and convenors (Stadmark et al., 2022), and on early career scientists (Beniest et al., 2022), and about progress made by the LGBTQ+ working group in the EGU context (Bellomo et al., 2022).
Next up were our presentations from the E-DIAL project. Our first presentation showcased diversity data of the UK geochemistry community along with intersectional diversity data from a community survey (Anand et al., 2022). In our community survey, we captured 156 responses and our data showed that the majority (~70%) of UK geochemists contribute to more than one research area and key research areas are highlighted in this word cloud based on the responses.
Our survey results showed that approximately half of the UK geochemist respondents are women and <40 year of age. Unsurprisingly, our data suggest that binary gender identities dominate the UK geochemistry academic community, similar to results for the UK Polar Science community presented in the same session, based on data of the British Antarctic Survey (Fisher et al., 2022). We also investigated ethnicity, disability and socio-economic background of respondents to capture diversity and inclusion across UK geochemistry (results to be published soon). Our second E-DIAL presentation focussed more specifically on diversity in geochemistry on the UK academic ladder (Maters et al., 2022). The 156 respondents included PhD students, postdoctoral researchers, senior researchers, lab support staff, lab managers, academic staff and those in a senior leadership role. A word cloud of these responses shows the range of careers of respondents. We found that approximately half of the UK geochemists are working full time and overall diversity data across the academic ladder appears to be dominated by women. The latter reflects higher tendencies of women (and other minorities) to engage more with and/or respond more to EDI research surveys.
These preliminary E-DIAL results are currently being analysed alongside of qualitative responses about the lived experiences of our respondents to gain a more complete understanding of diversity and inclusion across the UK geochemistry academic ladder.
The newsworthy study of Krauss and Gehmlich 2022 was captured by Nature news (Gibney, 2022), for which E-DIAL member Pallavi Anand was approached for comments. Pallavi further suggested that awarding bodies should consider about allowing anonymous self-nomination to promote increased diversity of the candidate pool. If people from minoritised group are not being recognised, then it should be possible for them to put their name in the hat by self-nomination, which is currently not possible.
Reflecting on the EDI session that we attended and summarised above, we think that the discourse on diversity in the geosciences must go beyond binary gender representation. We are well past the time when a mere balance of men and women in a community may be considered a positive indication of its diversity. While positive action on (binary) gender inequities is an important first step, this might not result in alleviating inequities experienced by other minorities that are leaving academia (this includes e.g. LGBTQ+ scientists, see Freeman, 2018). As a first step, a broader range of demographic data needs to be collected to understand inequities with respect to such other underrepresented minorities. If we are to celebrate diversity in its truest sense, then data on awardees beyond binary gender identities should be published; this includes information on for example trans and non-binary gender identities, sexuality, ethnicity (Black Asian Minority Ethnic groups), disability and socio-economic background, should be published. Such data can and should then be used to enhance action plans that have proven successful in alleviating inequities in (binary) gender representation and develop new holistic action plans that can be proven effective for a wider range of inequities within the geosciences. The preliminary E-DIAL results presented in this session were noteworthy as one of the few examples that aimed to capture such broader markers of diversity (in the UK geochemistry community). This has been possible because of the Natural Environment Research Council’s (NERC) EDI enrichment funding opportunity, which enabled us to collect the data presented at EGU through a survey distributed across the UK geochemistry academic community. We hope to see similar funding opportunities become available across Europe either through national funders’ initiatives or through the ERC to enable collection and analyses of broader diversity data on, for example, the EGU make-up (awards, presenters, convenors) and on ERC and other grant awardees. Such evidence is critical to highlighting patterns and issues relating to EDI and has the potential to bring new (holistic) supportive initiatives to alleviate inequities experienced by all underrepresented minorities. This would transform the research environment and culture to promote diversity and inclusion across the European geoscience community.
Jesus-Rydin, C., Fariña-Busto, L., and Romanowicz, B.: Gender equity actions at the ERC: results of sustained measures, EGU General Assembly 2022, Vienna, Austria, 23–27 May 2022, EGU22-4838, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu22-4838, 2022.
Nuvunga, F. O., Miguel, I., Vitória, S., Holden, E., Dino, G., and Pereira, M. D.: Linking continents through their educational programs, EGU General Assembly 2022, Vienna, Austria, 23–27 May 2022, EGU22-406, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu22-406, 2022.
Zychova, L., Lefever, K., and Crosby, N.: A Touch of Space Weather - Outreach project for visually impaired students, EGU General Assembly 2022, Vienna, Austria, 23–27 May 2022, EGU22-5555, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu22-5555, 2022.
Fisher, B. J., McGregor, A., Hendry, K. R., Van Ladeghem, K. J. J., Marzocchi, A., Fielding, S., Darlington, E., Anderson, M., Joshi, S., and Sieradzan, K.: FindAScienceBerth: connecting underrepresented groups in marine science with available berths on scientific research vessels, EGU General Assembly 2022, Vienna, Austria, 23–27 May 2022, EGU22-5267, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu22-5267, 2022.
Raji, M., Bond, C., Carter, E., Davies-Vollum, S., Butcher, G., Lewis, E., Thomas, B., and Williams, R.: Leveraging Digital Technology to Improve EDI in Geosciences: GeoCoLab, EGU General Assembly 2022, Vienna, Austria, 23–27 May 2022, EGU22-12869, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu22-12869, 2022.
McGregor, A., Fisher, B., Baker, C. A., Robinson, C., Damerell, G. M., Liszka, C. M., Simmonds, N., Fielding, S., and Muschitiello, P.: Is first-hand fieldwork still the best way into a career in marine sciences? Highlighting digital twinning of the oceans as a complementary and more inclusive pathway into a career in the marine sciences, EGU General Assembly 2022, Vienna, Austria, 23–27 May 2022, EGU22-5569, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu22-5569, 2022.
Perez Diaz, L., Wright, K., Arnould, M., Coltice, N., Gerault, M., and Mallard, C.: Sexism in Science: Changing the conversation with comics , EGU General Assembly 2022, Vienna, Austria, 23–27 May 2022, EGU22-3875, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu22-3875, 2022.
Vehkamäki, H., Beck, L., Demakova, A., Lauri, K. A., Li, X., Lintunen, A., Mazon, S. B., Neitola, K., Rajewicz, P., Karppinen, L., Nieminen, T., Schiestl-Aalto, P., and Vesala, T.: Everyday tips for making the workplace culture welcoming for diverse staff, EGU General Assembly 2022, Vienna, Austria, 23–27 May 2022, EGU22-3915, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu22-3915, 2022.
Krause, S. and Gehmlich, K.: Does the persistent lack of female recipients of academic awards have to surprise us if few scientific prizes and medals are named after women?, EGU General Assembly 2022, Vienna, Austria, 23–27 May 2022, EGU22-2562, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu22-2562, 2022.
Anand, P., Appiah, F., Lawrence, A., Bots, P., Gagnon, J., Bhagwat, S., Riches, A., Little, S., Maters, E., ChiFru, E., and Ngwenya, B.: Assessing diversity and inclusion within the UK’s geochemistry academic workforce, EGU General Assembly 2022, Vienna, Austria, 23–27 May 2022, EGU22-8410, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu22-8410, 2022.
Maters, E., Appiah, F., Lawrence, A., Bots, P., Gagnon, J., Riches, A., Bhagwat, S., Chi Fru, E., Little, S., Ngwenya, B., and Anand, P.: Are diverse geochemists retained and thriving on the UK academic ladder?, EGU General Assembly 2022, Vienna, Austria, 23–27 May 2022, EGU22-5926, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu22-5926, 2022.
Bellomo, K., Di Chiara, A., Rutter, W. A. J., Davies, H. S., Prior-Jones, M., Piispa, E. J., Muchow, M., and Beard, D. B.: Insights from the LGBTQIA+ working group at EGU 2022, EGU General Assembly 2022, Vienna, Austria, 23–27 May 2022, EGU22-9149, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu22-9149, 2022.
Beniest, A., Stadmark, J., and Jesus-Rydin, C.: Early Career Scientist (ECS) attendance and participation at the annual EGU General Assembly: are online meetings more accessible than in-person meetings for ECS?, EGU General Assembly 2022, Vienna, Austria, 23–27 May 2022, EGU22-9117, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu22-9117, 2022.
Stadmark, J., Beniest, A., and Alves de Jesus-Rydin, C.: Who presented and convened at EGU General Assemblies 2015-2021?, EGU General Assembly 2022, Vienna, Austria, 23–27 May 2022, EGU22-5125, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu22-5125, 2022.
Freeman, J. LGBTQ scientists are still left out, Nature, 559, 27-28, doi.org/10.1038/d41586-018-05587-y, 2018.
Gibney, E. 2022 Women more likely to win awards that are not named after men, Nature news, doi.org/10.1038/d41586-022-01506-4, 2022.