Skip to main content

Equity, diversity and inclusivity at sea

In summer 2017 - for the first time that we know of! - all three of the main UK ships, the RRS Discovery (pictured, with Kate's ICY-LAB science team!), the RRS James Cook and the RRS James Clark Ross were out at the same time on expeditions, all led by female chief scientists. 

Today, we can celebrate a strong representation of women in sea-going science in the United Kingdom, providing positive role models and mentors to encourage and support early career female marine scientists. However, women continue to face challenges to their progression in their careers, especially those who are also members of other underrepresented groups. 

Dr Kate Hendry led a group of women from around the UK from a range of career stages and backgrounds, who are all active or recently active in sea-going research, with the aim of writing a discussion of equity, diversity and inclusivity (EDI) issues in UK marine science. The group has recently published an article in Ocean Challenge with a focus on both successes in gender equality over the last few decades and lessons learned for improving diversity of sea-going science further and more broadly into the future.

Some of the earliest female career marine scientists in the UK started off in fisheries research in the early twentieth century, including Rosa Lee (1884-1976), who was the first woman to graduate in Maths from Bangor University and the first woman to be employed by the Marine Biological Association. She worked at the Lowestoft Laboratory (that later became the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science, Cefas), and published highly-renowned articles including in Nature. “All of this, whilst never being allowed to step foot on a research vessel, and having to leave her employment in the civil service when she got married”, commented Dr Hendry. 

Rosa Lee, one of the first female UK marine scientists, in a group of staff at the Marine Biological Association’s Lowestoft laboratory in 1907(Photo courtesy of Cefas)

Dr Hendry added: “As a science community, we’ve come a long way in terms of gender balance and representation, not only in the top science jobs but also in other roles at sea including crew and marine technicians. We wanted to document the history of how these changes happened, and whether any of the pathways to gender equity could be transferred to tackling other forms of underrepresentation in UK marine science, at all career levels”.

The article ends with some firm recommendations to the community to improve sea-going EDI into the future, including the formation of a special interest group by the UK marine science organisation, The Challenger Society, and guidance to the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) for additional training, financial support, and recognition.

----------------------------

Cabot Institute member Dr Kate Hendry is an Associate Professor in the School of Earth Sciences at the University of Bristol.

Dr Kate Hendry



Popular posts from this blog

Powering the economy through the engine of Smart Local Energy Systems

How can the Government best retain key skills and re-skill and up-skill the UK workforce to support the recovery and sustainable growth? This summer the UK’s Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) requested submission of inputs on Post-Pandemic Economic Growth. The below thoughts were submitted to the BEIS inquiry as part of input under the EnergyREV project . However, there are points raised here that, in the editing and summing up process of the submission, were cut out, hence, this blog on how the UK could power economic recovery through Smart Local Energy Systems (SLES). 1. Introduction: Factors, principles, and implications In order to transition to a sustainable and flourishing economy from our (post-)COVID reality, we must acknowledge and address the factors that shape the current economic conditions. I suggest to state the impact of such factors through a set of driving principles for the UK’s post-COVID strategy. These factors are briefly explained belo

Farming in the Páramos of Boyacá: industrialisation and delimitation in Aquitania

Labourers harvest ‘cebolla larga’ onion in Aquitania. Image credit: Lauren Blake. In October and November 2019 Caboteer  Dr Lauren Blake  spent time in Boyacá, Colombia, on a six-week fieldtrip to find out about key socio-environmental conflicts and the impacts on the inhabitants of the páramos, as part of the historical and cultural component of her research project, POR EL Páramo . Background information about the research can be found in the earlier blog on the project website . Descending down the hill in the bus from El Crucero, the pungent smell of cebolla larga onion begins to invade my nose. The surrounding land transforms into plots of uniform rows of onion tops at various stages of growth, some mostly brown soil with shoots poking out along the ridges, others long, bushy and green. Sandwiched between the cloud settled atop the mountainous páramos and the vast, dark blue-green Lake Tota, all I can see and all I can smell is onion production. Sprinklers are scattered around, dr

IncrEdible! How to save money and reduce waste

The new academic year is a chance to get to grips with managing your student loan and kitchen cupboards. Over lockdown the UK wasted a third less food than we usually would. This is brilliant, as normally over 4.5 million tonnes of edible food is wasted from UK homes every year. For students, it’s even higher. The average cost of food waste per student per week is approximately £5.25 - that's about £273 per year !  It’s not just our bank accounts that are affected by food waste – it’s our planet too. The process of growing, making, distributing, storing and cooking our food uses masses of energy, fuel and water. It generates 30% of the world’s CO₂ greenhouse gas emissions. The same amount of CO₂ as 4.6 million return flights from London to Perth, Australia! So it makes sense to keep as much food out of the bin as possible, start wasting less and saving more.  Start the new term with some food waste busting, budget cutting, environment loving habits! Here’s five easy ways to reduce