According to a recent Microsoft study detailed in an article entitled, “Girls in STEM: the importance of role models,” young girls who are exposed to successful women in science, technology, engineering and math fields are more likely to pursue pro-STEM career aspirations. High school-aged girls perform the same as, and in many instances, better than boys in math and science in terms of grade performance. From 2010-17, data published by the American Geosciences Institute last November indicates that enrollment and graduation rates of women with bachelor’s and master’s degrees and doctorates in geological sciences have remained fairly steady between roughly 35-45 percent, as compared to roughly 20-25 percent in 1985. But according to the National Science Foundation and AGI, from 2010-17 the percentage of women with geoscience degrees working as geoscientists had decreased from 17 to 11 percent.
So, while historically we are seeing some of the highest percentages of women pursuing and earning degrees in geosciences, the percentage of women that work as geoscientists is roughly half of the percentage of men working as geoscientists. Within AAPG, female membership has hovered around 20 percent (between 19-21 percent) since 2014 and prior to that, it was significantly less (less than 18 percent).
Addressing the Need for Role Models
So why don’t we see more women pursuing careers in STEM, and specifically petroleum-related geology?
This is at least partly due to the lack of visibility of role models and problems in workforce retention. In order to create awareness and highlight women role models to address these issues, AAPGWN Publicity Director Amanda Pascali has created an AAPGWN social media campaign to highlight the #FEMALEGEOLOGIST movement and to increase the visibility and achievements of women geoscientists. The goal of this initiative is to directly encourage and boost female geologists’ career profiles and therefore increase the percentage of women staying in geosciences. Our hope is that the increased exposure and visibility will grant them more opportunities to be seen by their peers and superiors as competent and capable technical leaders to whom future generations can aspire.
Since beginning our #FEMALEGEOLOGIST campaign in June, activity on our LinkedIn Page (AAPG Women’s Network) has increased roughly ten times. Likewise, our Facebook Page (AAPG Women’s Network), Twitter (@AAPG_WN), and Instagram (@geosteminist) activity has also increased dramatically. This initiative has significantly improved our outreach and engagement of AAPG members and non-members and we hope to increase our membership by demonstrating our mission to reach equality, diversity and inclusion for women in the greater AAPG community.
Connect with us on social media to hear about our upcoming events and initiatives. Please like, comment and share our posts with your online community so we can continue to expand the reach of AAPGWN! If you or any other woman you know would like to be featured, please send us an email at [email protected] to request more information. You can also join the Women’s Network here: aapg.to/aapgwnsig.