Creating and Promoting Gender Equity and Diversity in Professional Geological Societies: A Focus on AAPG

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Rachelle Kernen , Clara Abu , Jonathan Allen, Sumiyyah Ahmed, Kathryn J Amos, K. Lee Avary, Lauren Birgenheier , Joy Frank-Collins, Terra George, Kiara Gomez, Autumn Haagsma, Nicole Hart-Wagoner, Andrea Lopez, Chioma Onwumelu, Bethany Rysak


When professional organizations allow gender inequity to persist, they continually lose talented, valuable individuals who enrich and lead their groups and drive innovation. This paper presents an analysis of membership data and ways in which member contributions are recognized by the American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG) between 2017-2020, in relation to gender. These are compared to similar data from the American Geophysical Union (AGU), and the Geological Society of America(GSA). All three of these societies (AAPG, AGU and GSA), whilst based in the USA, have substantial international membership. There is clear evidence of continued gender inequity in these professional geological societies, particularly in the AAPG; details are presented herein. Within the AAPG, there have been notable improvements in reducing the extent of gender inequities over the last decade. However, substantial gender inequities remain in the percentage of women and gender-diverse individuals holding leadership and technical positions, giving distinguished lectures, and receiving technical awards. The AAPG trails behind the GSA and AGU across the membership of women and diversity and inclusion efforts, programs, and frameworks. Because the AAPG is a major international geoscience professional organization, this inequity greatly contributes to the gender disparity that exists in the broader geoscience community. The evaluation of historical AAPG membership data in this study, alongside the review of published literature and actions to improve equity diversity and inclusion in other professional societies, allows for an opportunity to propose a range of improvements for AAPG to implement. We propose that implementing diversity standards in AAPG’s most visible and prestigious awards will advance gender equity and give meaningful recognition and power to those present with a reduced opportunity to influence. We note and include reference to literature on this topic, that gender equity issues must be addressed concerning race and ethnicity. Specific actions should be taken to provide support for marginalized women such as women of color and Indigenous women, and gender-diverse people. As geoscientists, it is our moral and ethical obligation to address these issues so professional societies such as AAPG can demonstrate tangible efforts to eliminate the discrimination, bias, and barriers many women and gender-diverse individuals encounter and support them in having equitable opportunities and recognition as professional geoscientists.



Education, Physical Sciences and Mathematics, Social and Behavioral Sciences


gender equity, professional societies, geoscientists


Published: 2021-02-10 04:11

Last Updated: 2023-03-22 08:39

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CC BY Attribution 4.0 International

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