Perceptions and impacts of gender inequality in the geosciences are strongly gendered
The leaky pipeline phenomenon refers to the disproportionate drop-out of female scientists at higher academic career levels and is a major problem in the natural sciences. Identifying the underlying causes is challenging, and thus solving the problem remains difficult. To better understand the reasons for the leaky pipeline, we assess the perceptions and impacts of gender bias and imbalance—two major drivers of the leakage—at different academic career levels with an anonymous survey in
... survey in geoscience academia (n=1220). The survey results show that both genders view male geoscientists as substantially more gender-biased than female scientists, with nearly half of the female full professors considering their male colleagues as biased (vs. 21.3% of male full professors). Moreover, female geoscientists are more than twice as likely to experience negative gender bias at their workplaces and scientific organizations compared to male geoscientists, and female professors report experiences with negative bias at the highest rate (37.8%) among all career stages. There are also pronounced gender differences regarding (i) the relevance of role models, which are most important at the PhD level for women, but at the postdoc or higher levels for men, (ii) family-friendly working conditions, which are important in the future to 76.1% of female PhD students vs. 57.9% of male PhD students and (iii) the approval of gender quotas for academic positions (supported by 44.9% female vs. 7.9% male respondents). Given the male dominance in senior career levels, our results emphasize that those feeling less impacted by the negative consequences of gender bias and imbalance are the ones in position to tackle the problem. We thus call for actions to better address gender biases and to ensure a balanced gender representation at decision-making levels to ultimately retain more women in geoscience academia.