Science still has some way to go when it comes to reaching gender parity. This year we highlight some of our early career researchers, and ask for their thoughts and experiences about working in science. From left: Jennifer Hinton, Liz Drury O'Neill, Aniek Hebink, Niak Koh and Alice Dauriach. Photo: A. Perl/SRC

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Where have all the women gone?

This year for International Women’s Day, we are highlighting some of our early career researchers, their work, and experiences so far in science

Story highlights

  • For International Women’s Day 2019, we highlight some of our early career researchers
  • We showcase their work and ask them about their experiences and thoughts about women in science
  • The centre has made efforts to better highlight its female researchers in its news coverage on this website

When it comes to gender parity, women in science still have some way to go. Studies have shown that women are at least half of the students in science, technology, engineering, mathematics, medicine programmes, but they are often underrepresented the more senior a scientific position becomes. This phenomenon is known as the ‘leaky pipeline’. While some of this can be explained by generational trend, studies suggest that there are still major gender biases that need to be addressed for academia to become more equal.

As one of our PhD candidates, Alice Dauriach, points out: "Where have all the women gone?"

Reflections from early career female researchers

For International Women’s Day 2019, we are highlighting the work and experiences of some of our early career female researchers.

We wanted to get their perspectives on what it is like to be a women in science, some of the challenges they have faced and how have overcome these challenges. We also wanted to get their thoughts on why it is important to have women in leadership positions in science, what they think academia can do to better support female researchers, and their words of advice for woman to embark on a career in science.

Watch the video below to see what they said.

Highlighting our own women in research news

In 2017, we evaluated our own news coverage when it came to who and what topics we were covering. In a centre with more than half female research staff, from PhD candidate to professorial level, we found that our female researcher’s work was only highlighted 38% of the time.

SRC always welcomes all staff to submit their work for outreach, and aims to highlight all of its staff equally. Yet, this was an important finding that we need to actively be doing more.

During 2018, we continued to collect work from all staff for outreach, but specifically encouraged our female staff. At the end of 2018, SRC had highlighted its female researcher 52% of the time out of a total of 163 news articles. Through regular encouragement, and without discouraging our male researchers, as well as through targeted outreach, such as our 2018 International Women’s Day campaign, we were able to strengthen our reporting on the female researchers at our centre. In fact, since 2015 this was the first time there had been a more than equal spread in reportage between men and women.

"We recognize that this is not going to change any structurally embedded gender inequalities in science, but we do believe that the simple act of highlighting and making our female staff at least equally as visible is a small step in the right direction," says Sturle Simonsen, head of communication at the centre.

"We plan to continue this trend of equal representation of male and female staff for the years to come."

Published: 2019-03-08

Related info

Read more about the early career researchers we are showcasing for International Women’s Day:

Alice Dauriach recently started her PhD with the Global Economic Dynamics and the Biosphere Programme, at the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences and Stockholm Resilience Centre. Her research focuses on understanding how financial markets, large corporations, and financial secrecy interact with the Earth system at a global level.

Elizabeth Drury O’Neill completed her PhD research at the centre in November 2018. Her thesis explored small-scale fisheries trade, markets and the accompanying relationships. She is continuing to research coastal livelihoods, fisheries and marine resource governance in the Swahili coast as a postdoctoral researcher.

Jennifer Hinton is a PhD candidate at the centre. Her work focuses on the effects of different business structures on global sustainability challenges such as pollution, resource use, and inequality. More specifically, she looks at common business structures, such as ownership, and global sustainability challenges.

Aniek Hebinck completed her PhD research at the centre in November 2018. Her PhD thesis outlines how participation of new actors in the food system contributes to transformative change towards sustainable food systems. She also works as a researcher at the Environmental Change Institute of the University of Oxford, where she continues to work on food systems change, participatory foresight and social equity.

Niak Sian Koh is a PhD candidate researching policy tools that could help balance development with biodiversity conservation and social equity. More specifically, her PhD analyses the institutional design and implementation of biodiversity financing mechanisms to safeguard good outcomes for people and nature. Safeguards for biodiversity policies are examined in both high and lower-income countries, such as Sweden and Madagascar.