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Andrew Alden

Women in the Geosciences Day

By October 17, 2013

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As part of Earth Science Week, today celebrates the women in the field. In my time, I've watched women steadily grow in numbers and positions of influence. Today women earn as many degrees in geoscience fields as the men do. That success is still working its way upward as the old guard remains highly mannish. That imbalance exists partly for historical reasons, partly because of sheer inertia, and partly from resistance both witting and unwitting.

There are many efforts going on to redress this imbalance: anti-discrimination laws help everywhere, of course, but in the sciences in particular the learned societies are taking official action—publishing research and conducting discussions and issuing statements. Societies like the Association of Women Geoscientists help more directly by giving women a break and a refuge from feeling beleaguered as a minority. Many men simply do the right thing by quietly behaving in professional ways; many more do their best but find they have to deal with some uncomfortable things about themselves or their peers. It's harder, but just as necessary, to everyone to speak up when bad behavior is entrenched in a workplace's culture.

The testimony of women geoscientists is a potent force in all of these efforts. I have found the blogs of women (and their outspoken male supporters) to be powerful reading for that reason, and I hope you'll visit some today and in the future:

  • Kim Hannula's discontinued blog, All of My Faults Are Stress-Related, is still a classic for its insights into the academic life.
  • Stephanie Sykora's exuberant Exploring the Earth is an intrepid travelogue through some wonderful places.
  • Elisabeth Klosters' Earth Science Society presents thoughtful posts on a variety of topics from philosophy of science to her favorite dreikanter.
  • Anna Perttu blogs as Infrasound Huntress with a fierce focus on infrasound.
  • Mika McKinnon blogs as GeoMika and spans a wide range of the field.
And that's just the top few from my Twitter list. Check them out and post your own favorites in the comments.

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