Women in Coastal Geoscience and Engineering (WICGE) Research

Women in Coastal Geoscience and Engineering (WICGE)


 Making Practical Changes to Achieve Gender Equality

in Coastal Geoscience and Engineering

Dr. Siddhi Joshi (National University of Ireland Galway), Dr. Shari Gallop (Macquarie University), and Associate Professor Ana Vila Concejo (University of Sydney)

Making Waves towards Gender Equality

In September, the international network Women in Coastal Geoscience and Engineering (WICGE) published a paper on 'Steps to improve gender diversity in coastal geoscience and engineering' Palgrave Communications (a multidisciplinary social science journal under the Nature Publishing Group). This study has generated much engagement and discussion and is already within the top 1% of most impactful papers on Altmetrics, with tens of thousands reached on Twitter and Facebook. We also published a related piece in The Conversation which generated some interesting discussions. The study was led by Associate Professor Ana Vila Concejo (University of Sydney) and the 12 other committee members of WICGE, and is making waves around the world including in mainstream news outlets and local radio stations.


Women are still heavily unrepresented in our discipline and this has not been self-correcting with time in the way we might have hoped. WICGE analyzed gender representation in the boards and committees of nine societies, 25 journals, and 10 conferences and ran a global survey of perceptions and experiences of gender bias in the discipline.

Key Results

· Women represent 30% of the international coastal geoscience and engineering community but are underrepresented in prestige roles such as journal editorial board members (15% women) and conference organizers (18% women).

· 81% of respondents perceived the lack of female role models as a key hurdle for gender equity and a significantly larger proportion of females (47%) feel held back in their career due to gender in comparison with males (9%).

Key ways gender bias manifests include lack of women role models/ colleagues, gender stereotyping, "boys club" cultures, discrimination due to pregnancy/ maternity responsibilities, microaggressions and harassment.

Seven Steps for Gender Equality

Based on our findings, we have identified seven steps to make coastal geoscience more inclusive for women:

1. Advocate for more women in prestige roles: Ensure fair representation of women as keynote speakers at conferences, on society boards and journal editorial boards. Have clear pathways to prestige roles giving women an opportunity to apply if they wish to do so.

2. Promote high-achieving females: Recognise the achievements of females, and select them for roles that increase their visibility as role models.

3. Be aware of gender bias: Consciously reflect on personal biases when hiring, promoting and mentoring staff.

4. Speak up, call it out: Point out to conference organisers all-male panels and keynote programs and, where they are underrepresented, write to chief editors suggesting women for editorial boards.

5. Provide better support for returning to work after maternity leave: Higher levels of support and more flexible conditions for women returning from maternity leave encourage women to stay in their employment after having children, thereby increasing their prospects of reaching more senior posts.

6. Redefine success: Recognise the diverse range of definitions of what it means to be a successful researcher.

7. Encourage women to enter the discipline at a young age: Many school-age girls are put off the idea of entering STEM disciplines as they are socially and culturally deemed to be "male" pursuits. This needs to be addressed.

The Role of WICGE

Since the launch in 2016, WICGE has been working in the background making practical changes for gender equality. This includes rising up and promoting women in our discipline to create more visible role models such as through our online platforms, and creating an international network which creates inclusivity and connections. At a practical level, we have been holding events at various international and national conferences to promote awareness of the issues and get people talking about it. We have also introduced some sponsored awards such as at Australasian Coasts and Ports 2017 for the WICGE Award for best paper led by a female author sponsored by Engineers Australia that went to Rosey Hart from the University of Newcastle for her work on tidal dynamics in coastal lakes.

CERF-JCR is a strong supporter of WICGE, including through their key role running the International Coastal Symposium (ICS), where WICGE was launched at the 2016 conference in Sydney, Australia. More recently, at ICS 2018 in Busan, Republic of Korea, CERF-JCR and WICGE jointly launched an award for the best poster by a female early career researcher, with a 3-year sponsored CERF membership and JCR subscription. This was awarded to Ms. Yehui Gang from the Korea Institute of Ocean Science and Technology (KIOST)/University of Science and Technology for her work on: Biological impact assessment of polluted sediments using pore water and elutriate as exposure media.


Dr. Chris Makowski (Senior Vice President and Assistant Director of the Coastal Education & Research Foundation [CERF] and Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Coastal Research [JCR]) introducing WICGE at the International Coastal Symposium (ICS) 2018 in Busan, Republic of Korea.


Presenting the CERF-WICGE Award for Best Poster by Female Early Career Researcher at the ICS 2018 in Busan, Republic of Korea. From left to right: Dr. Chris Makowski (CERF-JCR), Dr. Shari Gallop (Macquarie University & WICGE committee member), Associate Professor Ana Vila Concejo (University of Sydney & WICGE committee member), and Ms. Yehui Gang (KIOST/ University of Science and Technology).


About Women in Coastal Geoscience and Engineering (WICGE)

WICGE was launched in 2016 at the International Coastal Symposium (ICS) in Sydney. WICGE is a network of people that aim to achieve gender equality in coastal geoscience and engineering,  across age groups and career levels, in academia, government and industry. We have been undertaking practical actions such as working for gender balance in leadership roles such as conference keynotes and starting initiatives such as awards for early career females at conferences. We are also building a network of people including all genders and backgrounds using our online presence and during conference events, connecting people and spreading awareness.

More information:

- Website: www.womenincoastal.org

- Twitter: @WomeninCoastal

- Facebook: @WomeninCoastal


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