GSA Connects 2021 in Portland, Oregon

Paper No. 175-7
Presentation Time: 3:05 PM


BERTA, Annalisa, Biology, San Diego State University, San Diego, CA 92182 and TURNER, Susan, Geosciences, Queensland Museum, Hendra, QLD 4011, Australia

Although the number of women vertebrate paleontologists (VPs) has increased in recent years, women still remain underrepresented and change has been slow. We report anonymized data for more than 1,200 women VPs. The number of women VPs in the 21st century has increased 70% since the founding of Society of Vertebrate Paleontology (SVP). The earliest women VPs (1700s–1850) studied early vertebrates and reptiles in near equal numbers. Beginning in the 19th century and continuing to the present women began studying fossil mammals. Initially, women VPs were primarily collectors and artists. Women VPs in academia and research increased through the 20th century forming 80% of the total from the 1970s to the present. Since the 1970s the number of curators has held steady 4–5%, with preparators 4–6% and outreach educators 1–2%. Women VPs were mainly European until 1940, when a larger proportion came from No. America, coinciding with an increase from the former USSR. Beginning in late 19th century and continuing to mid-20th century, women VPs from Asia were 20% of the total. Since 2000 there has been a 6% increase in women from So. America and a smaller increase from Africa.

We also analyzed SVP membership and scholarship records. Comparison of our dataset with those of other societies and meetings (CAVEPS, EAVP, NAPC, PA, PS, and SVPCA) revealed mostly similar significant gender gaps. Although initially not represented in leadership (i.e. first woman SVP president elected 1964), from 2006–2010 women achieved their highest representation, comprising nearly 50% of the Exec. Comm. Although female student awardees have held steady 34% since 2007, women have received 16% of senior awards. Women encompassed 10% of the membership until 1964, increasing to nearly 25% in 1975, expanding to 36% in 2017. Women presenting (talks, posters) at SVP annual meetings has increased from < 10% from 1940–1971 to 29% in 2017. Women first-authored 7% of JVP papers from 1981–1985, increasing to 26–32% from 2010–2017. Reasons for the underrepresentation of women VPs include challenges -- racial and gender equality, family issues and sexual harassment, revealed through research and interviews with VPs. Finally, we identify successful strategies and provide recommendations to ensure diversity and inclusiveness for paleontology and science in the future.