Women Making Progress in Ice Core Science, But a Huge Gender Gap Remains

A new study led by Bess G. Koffman, an assistant professor of geology at Colby College in Waterville, Maine, finds that women have made significant gains in the field of ice core science but a very large gender gap remains. Ice cores are cylinders of ice drilled from ice sheets and glaciers. They are essentially frozen time capsules that allow scientists to reconstruct climate far into the past.

Prior work has shown that despite progress toward gender parity over the past 50 years, women continue to be significantly underrepresented within the discipline of ice core science and receive disproportionately fewer opportunities for recognition, such as invited talks, awards, and nominations. This lack of opportunity can have long-term negative impacts on women’s careers.

Researchers examined articles published in the field of ice core science from 1969 to 2021. They found that the percentage of women authors in the field has increased from 10.9 percent to 30.7 percent over the past decade. The gender makeup of co-authors differs substantially for man vs. woman-led studies. Within the past decade, woman-led studies have contained on average 20 percent more women coauthors than man-led studies. The analysis also found that women have outperformed by about 8 percent of their estimated proportion within the ice core community in terms of being first authors on published papers.

The authors conclude that senior women, in particular, catalyze women’s participation in publishing and that collaboration between women can help close gender gaps in science.

The full study, “Collaboration Between Women Helps Close the Gender Gap in Ice Core Science,” was published on the website of Nature Geoscience. It may be accessed here.

Filed Under: Research/Study


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