Women’s collaboration narrows gender gap in basic ice science

Women’s collaboration narrows gender gap in basic ice science

A perspective article published today in Nature Geoscience addresses the long-standing issue of gender representation in science, focusing on the field of basic ice science. Previous work has shown that despite progress toward gender equality over the past 50 years1Women are still greatly underrepresented in the field of geosciences2 They receive disproportionately fewer opportunities for recognition, such as invited talks, awards and nominations3. This lack of opportunities may have long-term negative effects on women’s careers. To help address these persistent gender gaps, the study assesses patterns in women’s publications in basic glaciology over the past 50 years. The study was co-led by Bess Kaufman of Colby College, USA, and Matthew Osman of the University of Cambridge, UK, and co-authored by Alison Criscitiello and Sophia Guest, both of the University of Alberta, Canada.

To assess relationships between gender, publication rate, and the influence of co-author networks, the study evaluates a comprehensive global dataset of abstracts representative of published work in basic glaciology extending from 1969 to 2021 in this historically male-dominated discipline. The Perspective article shows that the inferred gender gap in glaciology has declined from approximately 10:90% women:men in the 1970s to approximately 30:70% in the past decade. In contrast to previous work across the sciences, the authors found that the networks of women and men co-authors remained the same size and were similarly cited across time. This result may reflect the high degree of international cooperation and large collaborative teams that are typical in the field of basic glaciology.

Importantly, the gender composition of the co-authors differed significantly between men and women. Women-led studies. Surprisingly, over the past decade, studies led by women have had on average 20% more co-authors than studies led by men, a difference that has been shown to be larger in previous decades. Furthermore, since the early 2000s, analysis shows that women have outperformed by about 8% over their estimated share within the Ice Heart community in terms of publishing first papers. New analysis by Kaufman, Osman, Crisitiello, and Just suggests that senior women in particular stimulate women’s participation in publishing, and that collaboration between women can help close gender gaps in science.

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List of references:

1 Bernard, RE & Cooperdock, EHG There has been no progress in diversity in 40 years. Natural Earth Sciences 11, 292-295, doi:10.1038/s41561-018-0116-6 (2018).

2 Holmes, M.A., O’Connell, S., Frey, C. & Ongley, L. Gender imbalance in US geoscience academia. Natural Earth Sciences 1, 79-82 (2008).

3 Ford, H.L., Brick, C., Blaufuss, K. & Dekens, P.S. Gender inequality in speaking opportunities at the fall meeting of the American Geophysical Union. Nature Communications 9, doi:10.1038/s41467-018-03809-5 (2018).

4 Biko, T., Berman, B., Doyle, K. and Richardson, S. The first gender gap in authorship in the geosciences. Earth and Space Sciences 7, doi:10.1029/2020EA001203 (2020).

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About the Author: Irene Alves

"Bacon ninja. Guru do álcool. Explorador orgulhoso. Ávido entusiasta da cultura pop."

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