Geological Society of America Issues New Position Statement: Removing Barriers to Career Progression for Women in the Geosciences

Boulder, CO, USA: GSA’s governing Council approved a new position statement, Removing Barriers to Career Progression for Women in the Geosciences, at its May 2018 meeting in Denver, Colorado.

Chair-Elect of GSA’s Geology and Public Policy Committee (GPPC) and Position Statement Panel Chair, Monica Gowan, noted, "Culture starts at the top and resonates through the ranks. A culture that tolerates systemic barriers and beliefs resulting in unequal access to or exclusion from career opportunities for women is unacceptable. GSA leadership saw it as vital to create a position statement stating so."

Purpose. This position statement (1) affirms the pressing need for a change in professional culture so that all people are welcomed, supported, and thrive in the geoscience profession; and for policies that aspire to the highest standards of conduct as a professional society; (2) advocates for resolving implicit and explicit biases and the elimination of harassment, bullying, and sexual misconduct in the workplace; (3) recommends elevated personal and professional responsibility and evidence-based policies that extend beyond civil and legal remedies, to promote inclusive, safe, and productive environments in the geoscience classroom, laboratory, field, and office; and (4) establishes GSA's commitment to identifying and implementing reporting procedures and clear consequences for members who practice discrimination, harassment, bullying, retaliation, sexual misconduct, or sexual violence.

Read the full text of the position statement.

Along with the position statement on Diversity in the Geosciences, GSA endorses the right for all to work in a safe, supportive, non-discriminatory, and recrimination-free environment where trust, respect, equity, fairness, accountability, and justice are honored.

"We've seen that biases and problematic behaviors by people abusing their power and privilege are present in the sciences, yet discrimination and prejudice are antithetical to the scientific method," said Gowan. "In any learning or workplace environment, one thing everyone should be able to count on is professionalism and mutual respect."

Gowan went on to say, "Many of us have blind spots, or powerful denial, about the presence and severity of cultural norms and behaviors within the geosciences that inhibit gender equity. The #MeToo and #MeTooPhD movements are only beginning to reveal the damages and loss of human capital from these and other discriminatory barriers encountered by women in science."

"We were fortunate to be guided by a distinguished panel of gender equity leaders and researchers who generously gave their time and subject-matter expertise to write this Position Statement and compile an extensive bibliography of relevant resources," said Gowan. "Together with my colleagues on GSA's Geology and Public Policy Committee who also worked very hard on this Position Statement, we are grateful to the Panel and GSA Council for their leadership on this fundamental issue and for demonstrating that equity is central to who we are as ethical professionals."

Related to this position paper, the GSA Geology and Society Division, GSA Geology and Public Policy Committee, Association for Women Geoscientists, and the Earth Science Women's Network are co-sponsoring a Pardee Keynote Symposium at the GSA Annual Meeting in Indianapolis, 4-7 November 2018, titled, "Women Rising: Removing Barriers and Achieving Parity in the Geosciences." Susan Stover and Kelly Kryc are the session conveners.

Full versions of all GSA position statements are available at

The Geological Society of America (GSA), is a global professional society with members from academia, government, and industry in more than 100 countries. Through meetings, publications, and programs, GSA enhances the professional growth of earth scientists and promotes the geosciences in the service of humankind. GSA encourages cooperative research and shared findings among earth, life, planetary, and social scientists, fosters public dialogue on geoscience issues, and supports all levels of earth science education.

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For Immediate Release
6 June 2018
GSA Release No. 18-21


Christa Stratton