Connecting women leaders and changemakers in Earth observations and the wider Geospatial field

Blog / Julia Wagemann & Sabrina Szeto / February 12, 2020

Women in Geospatial+ presenting at the AGU by Bente Lilja Bye. Photo by Emil Cherrington, tweets as @bzgeo
Women in Geospatial+ presenting at the AGU by Bente Lilja Bye. Photo by Emil Cherrington, tweets as @bzgeo
Women in Geospatial+ presenting at the AGU by Bente Lilja Bye. Photo by Emil Cherrington, tweets as @bzgeo
Women in Geospatial+ presenting at the AGU by Bente Lilja Bye. Photo by Emil Cherrington, tweets as @bzgeo

This week, the world celebrates the International Day of Women and Girls in Science, a day initiated by the United Nations to promote the importance of gender equality in science. Worldwide, less than 30% of researchers in STEM-related subjects are women. This underrepresentation of women is mirrored in the field of Earth observations as well, as many professionals are graduates in geography, forestry, physics and ICT.

While there is a positive trend in women pursuing a PhD and gaining entry-level positions in the field of Earth observations, at some stage, women stagnate in their careers, they face more challenges than men to advance professionally, and it is still rare to see women holding leadership and decision making positions in the industry. This is something that Women in Geospatial+ wants to change.

Each of us can be a geospatial changemaker and leader.

Here are four tips from Women in Geospatial+ on how you can contribute to closing the gender-gap in the field of Earth Observations:

  1. Challenge the status-quo: If your team at work has a gender imbalance, ask why and make an effort to change it. Learn how to run inclusive meetings and ensure that career-advancing work and opportunities are evenly distributed.
  2. Be aware of your professional network ties and make an effort to connect with and support people from underrepresented backgrounds. Introduce them to others in your network and share job opportunities you hear about.
  3. If you are invited to speak at a conference or panel - do not accept the invitation if all other speakers are male. Ask the organisers to invite a leader in the field who is from an underrepresented gender.
  4. Be a champion for women in Earth observations: Recognise the achievements of women in the field and suggest that a woman be a candidate for promotion.

Women in Geospatial+ is a professional network that promotes gender-equality and celebrates diversity in Earth observations and the wider geospatial industry. Launched on Twitter one day before International Women’s Day in March 2019, our network has since grown into a vibrant and active community with more than 850 registered members globally, over 1000 followers on LinkedIn and 3300+ on Twitter.

The fast paced growth of our community is a sign that many of us are looking for opportunities to network and grow professionally while changing workplace cultures that may not be inclusive. Many of our members say that they are one of the few women in their workplace, or sometimes, the only woman.

This is where Women in Geospatial+ comes in. We connect women and other underrepresented genders in the geospatial field by providing a safe platform via our Slack community for open and honest communication. We promote and foster the professional development of our members by sharing geospatial news, job vacancies as well as tips about leadership and career development. We also launched a year-long career mentorship program in September 2019, bringing together 42 participants from 17 countries.

Our network is not only virtual. Throughout the year, we create opportunities to meet in person at geospatial conferences, where we regularly run sessions focused on career advancement, featuring the work and achievements of women geospatial leaders, and where we organise informal meetups. We have exciting events planned in 2020 including a Women in Geospatial+ breakfast at Geovation in London in March.

We invite GEO and all geospatial industry stakeholders to join us in our mission. The time is now to build an inclusive industry culture where people from underrepresented genders are able to do their best work. In this day and age, we simply cannot afford to accept the underrepresentation of women and other genders any longer.

Let’s make a change together to shape a strong and inclusive Earth Observation and geospatial industry.

Partner with us. Visit our website and follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn.

 

About the authors

Julia Wagemann

Julia Wagemann is a geospatial data consultant and pursues a PhD on Big Data technologies for meteorological and climate data, in collaboration with the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF). Her work is in the intersection between data providers and data users as she investigates how large volumes of open environmental data can be made better accessible.

 

Sabrina Szeto

Sabrina Szeto is an independent geospatial consultant based near Munich, Germany. She advises nonprofits, businesses and land managers on how to use geospatial analysis to fulfill their missions.

 

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