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‘Boys club’ culture stifles progress


‘Flagrant examples of inequality’ have been identified in a new study of the professional barriers being faced by women innovators worldwide.

Carried out by the ‘committee for the international network working for Women in Coastal Geoscience and Engineering’ (WICGE), which has members in three continents, the study reveals that despite representing a third of the CGE community, women hold just a fifth of its ‘prestige roles’.

Lead author Associate Professor Ana Vila-Concejo on a boat at the University of Sydney’s Great Barrier Reef research station, One Tree Island. Credit: Thomas Fellowes



“We found flagrant examples of inequality that included dramatic decisions such as an early career researcher deciding to undergo an abortion out of fear of jeopardising her chances of securing an academic position,” said Associate Professor Ana Vila-Concejo.


The seven solutions proposed in the paper:


  1. Advocate for more women in prestige roles.
  2. Promote high-achieving females.
  3. Create awareness of gender bias.
  4. Speak up.
  5. Get better support for return-to-work.
  6. Redefine success.
  7. Encourage more women to enter the discipline at a young age.


“The first four steps we recommend can be successfully implemented immediately, while others need institutional engagement and represent major societal overhauls,” added Shari Gallop from Macquarie University.


Read some of the ideas generated in the Twitter Chat we hosted with Knowledge4Innovation earlier this year on the importance of achieving gender equality in STEM; and do everything you can to be part of the solution.

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