Reflecting on five years of WICGE

The Women in Coastal Geosciences and Engineering Network was launched during the 14th International Coastal Symposium (ICS), held in Sydney, Australia from 6–11 March 2016. As we reach the end of our fifth year, it is a timely opportunity to reflect on some of the network’s activities. Here are a few of those initiatives and achievements:

1.      In 2016 we established a committee of 12 volunteers and a membership of over 270 international coastal geoscience and engineering professions. Five years later our committee has 14 volunteers and we have 425 members spanning 55 different countries.

2. We established the state of gender diversity in our field as we started, so we could measure our impact later on. We released the findings of our assessment along with seven steps for improvement in a highly publicised  research paper  with an associated article in The Conversation. For that, we surveyed 314 members of the geoscience community on the status of women in coastal geosciences and engineering and estimated the proportion of women active in our field by membership proportions of women in coastal societies and editorial boards (see Figure 1 below for further detail).

 2. During the last five years we have liaised with numerous conference organisers to improve the gender balance of keynote speakers including the following events: Coastal Sediments, Coastal Dynamics, Coasts and Ports, and The International Conference on Coastal Engineering.

3. Established the Australasian Coasts and Ports Best Paper lead by a woman. Twice awarded so far (Rosey Hart, 2017 and Ana Paula Da Silva, 2019) with another due to be awarded in 2022. 

Award recipient Rosey Hart with WICGE committee members, Drs Kristen Splinter and Hannah Power at the 2017 Coasts and Ports Conference dinner.
Karen Palmer presenting the WICGE award to Ana Paula Da Silva from Griffith University, winner of the best conference paper by a female-lead author at the 2019 Australasian Coasts and Ports Conference.

4. Maintained regular communications with our members through posting regular blogs on the WICGE website, social media, producing an annual newsletter and establishing a SLACK member Channel that is very active and has a growing support network.

5. We have run many events and workshops including presentations and round-table discussions at conferences and institutions around the world e.g., International Coastal Symposium (x2), Coasts and Ports (x2), Coastal Dynamics, USGS Santa Cruz presentation and a Round Table discussion at the University of Southampton. 

“Making Waves: A Roundtable Seminar at the National Oceanography Centre”. Roundtable discussion at the University of Southampton, December 2019.

6. Established Unlearning Racism in geosciences (URGE) within the WICGE network through which WICGE members have learned from a curriculum about developing anti-racist policies to inform our organization’s operations and support anti-racist policy initiatives within membership institutions. 

That’s not a bad track record for a young organisation run by volunteers in our “spare time”! Indeed, in re-visiting the objectives that were initially set out when the network was launched, many of these can be resounding ticked off! We know, however, that there are many layers to diversity and know that we must keep on going to consolidate and improve our results. May the WICGE network continue to be this network to be instrumental in achieving gender equality in coastal geoscience and engineering, across age groups and career levels, in academia, government and industry.

Thank you to our members for your support – we could have not done it without you!! 

Posted on: 16/12/2021, by :