The “glass obstacle course” faced by women in marine sciences

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According to new research from the Australian National University (ANU), major changes are needed to tackle the lack of gender equality in marine science.

The study authors say it’s not just a diversity issue, but a barrier to achieving our global ocean sustainability goals.

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

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

“Having women leaders is important, as with diversity comes new ideas, new opinions and innovation. Without women and other minority groups, we miss all of this.”

The research found that 70% of research participants felt that, based on their own experience, interdisciplinary marine research was more challenging for female leaders than their male counterparts.

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

“Our female leaders said these barriers affected their mental well-being, job satisfaction, success and career progression,” said Dr Shellock.

“All of these together form a glass obstacle course, where gendered processes create obstacles and barriers that female scientists can constantly dodge.”

Professor Gretta Pecl, director of the University of Tasmania’s Center for Marine Socioecology, was one of the leading women in marine research interviewed for the article.

‘When it comes to interdisciplinary research, collaborative and consultative leadership is often the most effective,’ said Professor Pecl.

“This is not always the case, but listening, creativity and innovation skills can lend themselves to more common leadership styles among women,” said Professor Pecl.

The research identified several actions suggested by current leaders to support and promote more women in leadership positions.

This included creating family-friendly environments at academic institutions, informal networking opportunities, and support and engagement from superiors and colleagues.

“We need to make changes in the way both women and men work, not just women. This involves institutional reforms such as changing academic culture, improving parental leave and adopting flexible working practices,” she said. dr. Shellock.

“We hope this document will provide a roadmap for both institutions and the scientific community, enabling them to think about what kind of strategies they can use to promote and support female leadership.”

“Ultimately, this is not a female problem, it is the responsibility of everyone in society to make this change.”

“We are at a crucial point where we are addressing some of the biggest problems like climate change and food security. We need women in leadership positions more than ever.”

The research was published in One Land.


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More information:
Rebecca Shellock, Breaking down barriers: identifying actions to promote gender equality in interdisciplinary marine research institutes, One Land (2022). DOI: 10.1016 / j.oneear.2022.05.006. www.cell.com/one-earth/fulltex… 2590-3322 (22) 00261-5

Provided by the Australian National University

Citation: The “glass obstacle course” facing women in marine sciences (2022, June 7) retrieved June 7, 2022 from https://phys.org/news/2022-06-glass-obstacle-women-marine -science.html

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