GSA Annual Meeting in Denver, Colorado, USA - 2016

Paper No. 307-7
Presentation Time: 3:20 PM


KIMBALL, Mindy A., Geography & Environmental Engineering, US Military Academy, 745 Brewerton Road, West Point, NY 10996,

In the 1960s and 1970s Dr. Erving Goffman conducted gender studies focused on images and roles in advertising that established a framework for analyzing gender displays in print publications. Current efforts to increase diversity in academia, technical professions, and the business world commonly advocate for print materials, web pages, and other media outreach to represent diverse populations so that the groups they want to attract can imagine themselves fitting in (or see people like themselves already there). GSA Today, whether deliberately or not, is doing just that.

An adaptation of Goffman’s “gender advertisements” methodology is used to analyze the portrayal of women in Volume 5 through Volume 25 of GSA Today, the last full twenty years of monthly publications on news and information within the Geological Society of America. To narrow the focus in this study, only two forms of gender identity in the publication are explored: photographs containing people, and authors of content articles (e.g. science articles, news updates, letters, and book reviews). While the number of women in the total membership of GSA has increased over the last 20 years, along with women in most scientific disciplines, the representation of that portion of the population in our Society’s publication also increased. In January 1995, women comprised 22 percent of the people pictured in GSA Today, and 17 percent of the named authors providing written content. By December 2015, women accounted for 56 percent of the individuals in photos and 36 percent of content authors. Trends over the twenty years demonstrate periods of rapid increase in representation and plateau periods. Shifts in percentages did not correlate directly with changes in Society leadership or GSA Today editorial staff. Thanks to the ease of access to archived publications, future variations on this work hold the potential to provide further insights. How many grants or awards are named after or awarded to women? How many women led special field trips? How many Congressional Science Fellows were women?

The results of this study augment previous work on quantifying women in the geosciences, but also shed light on more subtle ways we might focus efforts to encourage and inspire other women to choose a career in Geology and to feel valued and welcomed in this profession.