The “Glass Obstacle Course” facing women in marine science

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Serious change is needed to counter the lack of gender equality in marine science, according to a new study from the Australian National University (ANU).

The authors of the study say that this is not only a problem with diversity, but also an obstacle to achieving our goals of sustainability in the global ocean.

The study collected data from 34 women leaders in 27 countries, highlighting not only gender barriers to women’s leadership, but also concrete actions that could help overcome them.

“To solve the biggest problems facing our oceans, we need to bring together different people from a number of different disciplines,” said lead researcher Dr Rebecca Shelock of ANU.

“Having women leaders is important, because with diversity comes new ideas, new opinions and innovations. Without women and other minority groups, we miss all this.

The study found that 70% of respondents felt that their own experience showed that interdisciplinary maritime research was more challenging for women leaders than for their male counterparts.

This is due to a number of social barriers, including isolation, underrepresentation and stereotypes.

“Our women leaders said that these barriers affect their mental well-being, job satisfaction and their success and career development,” said Dr. Shelock.

“Together, they form a glass bar of obstacles, where gender-based processes create barriers and barriers for women scientists to avoid all the time.”

Professor Greta Pekl, director of the Center for Marine Socioecology at the University of Tasmania, was one of the women leaders in marine research interviewed for the article.

“When it comes to interdisciplinary research, collaborative and consultative leadership is often most effective,” said Professor Hell.

“It’s not always the case, but listening skills, creativity and innovation can lend themselves to leadership styles that are more common among women,” said Professor Hell.

The study identifies several actions proposed by current leaders to support and encourage more women in leadership positions.

This includes creating a family-friendly environment in academic institutions, informal networking opportunities, and support and engagement from superiors and peers.

“We need to make changes in the way both women and men work, not just women. This includes institutional reforms such as changing the culture of academia, improving parental leave and adopting flexible working practices.” said Dr. Shelok.

“We hope that this document can provide a roadmap for both institutions and the scientific community, allowing them to consider what strategies they can use to promote and support women’s leadership.”

“After all, this is not a woman’s problem, it is the responsibility of everyone in society to make this change.”

“We are at a crucial time facing some of the biggest challenges, such as climate change and food security. We need women in leadership positions more than ever.”

The study was published in One Earth.

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More info:
Rebecca Shelock, Breaking Barriers: Identifying Actions to Promote Gender Equality in Interdisciplinary Marine Research Institutions, One Earth (2022). DOI: 10.1016 / j.oneear.2022.05.006.… 2590-3322 (22) 00261-5

Provided by the Australian National University

Quote: The “Glass Obstacle Course” for Women in Marine Science (2022, June 7), retrieved on June 7, 2022 from -women-marine-science.html

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