The Climate For Women In Climate Science

Feb. 12, 2018

Diana Liverman, UA Regents’ Professor in the School of Geography and Development, and Miriam Gay-Antaki, who graduated with a Ph.D. in geography from the UA in summer 2017, have published a paper about the experience of women climate scientists working for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

The paper, published on Feb 12, 2018 in the prestigious Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, is titled “The Climate for Women in Climate Science: Women Scientists and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.”

Gay-Antaki, who was first author on the paper, is now a visiting instructor at Colorado College.

“Women in science face barriers to professional advancement,” the authors wrote.  “The study contributes to the larger literature on gender and science and provides recommendations for greater inclusion.”

From paper abstact:

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is an authoritative and influential source of reports on climate change. The lead authors of IPCC reports include scientists from around the world, but questions have been raised about the dominance of specific disciplines in the report and the disproportionate number of scholars from the global north.

In this paper, Gay-Antaki and Liverman analyze the as yet unexamined issue of gender and IPCC authorship, looking at changes in gender balance over time, and analyzing women’s views about their experience and barriers to full participation, not only as women but at the intersection of nationality, race, command of English and discipline.

They show that the proportion of female IPCC authors has seen a modest increase from less than 5 percent in 1990 to more than 20 percent in the most recent assessment reports. Based on responses from over 100 women IPCC authors, Gay-Antaki and Liverman found that many women report a positive experience in terms of the way they were treated and their ability to influence the report, while others felt that some women were poorly represented and heard.

Gay-Antaki and Liverman suggest that an intersectional lens is important: not all women experience the same obstacles: they face multiple and diverse barriers associated with social identifiers such as race, nationality, command of English and disciplinary affiliation. The scientific community benefits from including all scientists, including women and those from the Global South. This paper documents barriers to participation and identifies opportunities to diversify climate science.

You can read the full paper.