GSA Annual Meeting in Indianapolis, Indiana, USA - 2018

Paper No. 200-4
Presentation Time: 2:20 PM


MARIN-SPIOTTA, Erika, Geography, University of Wisconsin- Madison, 550 N Park St, Madison, WI 53706, BARNES, Rebecca, Environmental Science, Colorado College, Colorado Springs, CO 80903 and MORRIS, Aisha R., Education and Community Engagement, UNAVCO, Inc, 6350 Nautilus Drive, Boulder, CO 80301

Geoscientists are at the frontline of societally relevant work on natural hazards, energy, climate, water, and food security. Despite its importance to understanding Earth’s past, present, and future, the geosciences workforce is one of the least diverse in terms of gender, race and ethnicity. Increasing the participation of diverse communities enhances its societal relevance and contributes to building a more inclusive society.

Informal networks play a critical role in advancing careers by providing peer support. This is particularly important in fields where women are grossly underrepresented, as peer networks can reduce feelings of isolation and provide access to information and opportunities for professional development. The power of networks lies in their ability to mobilize people and information for educational and institutional change.

Here we highlight the example of the Earth Science Women's Network (ESWN), which grew from a group of six female graduate students and postdocs to a non-profit organization with more than 3000 members worldwide in 15 years. ESWN builds community through peer mentoring and development of personal connections online to identify challenges and opportunities for the advancement and promotion of women. ESWN’s activities support professional development for scientists at all career stages and include a jobs list and a program for undergraduate student recruitment into the earth science majors. Through societal partnerships and a NSF-funded award (ADVANCEGeo), ESWN is contributing to catalyzing institutional and cultural change to improve workplace climate conditions, particularly in light of high-profile cases of sexual harassment. ESWN is also working to change the public perception of scientists through a public outreach initiative and fundraiser, called “Science-A-Thon” which serves as a platform to humanize science, offers a wide range of potential role models for students and highlights individual stories to increase public engagement with science.