Representation of Women in the Geoscience Workforce in 2013

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Currents #119 investigated the representation of women in geoscience faculty positions in the United States. To extend that conversation of gender representation in the geosciences, NSF’s 2013 restricted-use data file integrating the National Survey of College Graduates and the Survey of Doctoral Recipients was used to look at the representation of women in the geoscience workforce as a whole. These are longitudinal surveys that follow individuals through their careers. For this investigation, the data were filtered to include anyone with their highest degree in a geoscience degree field, which included geological sciences, atmospheric sciences and meteorology, oceanography, geography, astronomy, environmental sciences, and geoscience-related engineering fields. This dataset included 3917 employed individuals in 2013.

Overall, women made up 34% of the geoscience workforce in 2013. When those individuals were broken into their age groups, it is clear that the representation of women in the geoscience workforce has increased with time. Among 23-30 year olds, 49% were women compared to the 10% of women among 60 years old and older working individuals. The top figure shows an approximately 10% difference in female representation in each age group.

The graph below shows the difference in gender representation by age within various industries. The age groups were combined for a clearer graph, with the darker colors representing the 23-40 year olds. Among 23-40 year olds, women represented at least 39% of the geoscience workforce in any industry, and they represented over 50% of the geoscience workforce in five different industries in 2013.

The geosciences have made some major strides to address the gender gap in the workforce over the past couple of decades, and AGI expects this trend to continue as the workplace continues to adapt and change into positive and inclusive spaces for everyone working in the geosciences.