Turning the tide; trends in participation of women in oceanography

Author(s): Lewandowski, Katherine J.
Author Affiliation(s): Primary:
Eastern Illinois University, Department of Geology and Geography, Charleston, IL, United States
Volume Title: Geological Society of America, 2018 annual meeting & exposition
Source: Abstracts with Programs - Geological Society of America, 50(6); Geological Society of America, 2018 annual meeting & exposition, Indianapolis, IN, Nov. 4-7, 2018. Publisher: Geological Society of America (GSA), Boulder, CO, United States. ISSN: 0016-7592 CODEN: GAAPBC
Note: In English
Summary: Until the mid-to-late 20th century women were not welcomed as scientists on research vessels at sea. Thus, the record of women participating in oceanographic research is sparse until that time. However, there were women who persevered against all odds in the first half of the 20th century and impacted the science significantly. Three women who did just that were Mary Sears, Elizabeth T. Bunce, and Marie Tharp. These women, working in the United States, advanced the science of oceanography, mostly without sailing on research cruises, as well as serving as role models for the next generation of women oceanographers. It was in the 1960s that it became acceptable for women to go to sea to conduct oceanographic research; however, at first, it was not very common. Elizabeth T. Bunce helped to force this change. In order to get a sense of the scale of women participating in field work in oceanography in the late 20th and early 21st centuries, publicly available data through the Deep-Sea Drilling Project, the Ocean Drilling Program, the Integrated Ocean Drilling Program, and the International Ocean Discovery Program was investigated. These programs provide a list of every scientist participating in each cruise and it is available on their website. The total number of women contracted as scientists as a percentage of the total shipboard scientific party was assessed for each research cruise. In addition, the number of women serving as a co-chief scientist was also assessed. Over the course of the nearly 50-year history of the programs, the participation of women on cruises has increased from about 10% up to about 32% in 2017. Women have served as co-chief scientists 45 times over that time, with the frequency increasing into the 21st century. The tide is turning. Women are more visible in oceanography than they once were. Some of the stories of trail blazing women in oceanography are frequently told in books and on the internet, like that of Marie Tharp. Today, women hold positions of power within academia and professional organizations. However, more of these stories need to be told to keep up the momentum and attract the next generation of women oceanographers.
Year of Publication: 2018
Research Program: DSDP Deep Sea Drilling Project
IODP Integrated Ocean Drilling Program
IODP2 International Ocean Discovery Program
ODP Ocean Drilling Program
Key Words: 07 Marine Geology and Oceanography; Deep Sea Drilling Project; History; Integrated Ocean Drilling Program; International Ocean Discovery Program; Ocean Drilling Program; Oceanography
Record ID: 2019011970
Copyright Information: GeoRef, Copyright 2019 American Geosciences Institute. Reference includes data supplied by the Geological Society of America, Boulder, CO, United States

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