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Open Access The Sea Change Needed for Gender Equality in Ocean-Going Research


Since the 1950s, there has been an increase of women participating in ocean-going science. However, the number of women scientists in the field remains significantly less than that of men, especially in senior roles. In this commentary, we take a feminist perspective to understand the challenges women face in pursuing a career in ocean-going science. Based on the limited literature and reports of women in ocean-going research, we identified several cultural and structural barriers and constraints faced by women. These fell into four main categories: (1) behavioral/social norms and gender-biased culture in science and at sea; (2) failure to provide for balancing duties of family care with extended periods away from home; (3) gender-insensitive design of ship facilities, operations, and personal protective equipment (PPE); and (4) the need for a safe working environment at sea; i.e., gender-related aspects of health, safety, and personal security at sea. To overcome these barriers, the following interventions are suggested: (1) greater awareness raising and training to shift destructive mindsets as well as affecting behavioral and cultural change; (2) consideration of gender-sensitive design and safe operation of research vessels; and (3) more comprehensive and effective implementation of gender equality policies for research at sea.

Keywords: field work; gender; ocean science

Document Type: Commentary

Publication date: June 8, 2022

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  • The Marine Technology Society Journal is the flagship publication of the Marine Technology Society. It publishes the highest caliber, peer-reviewed papers on subjects of interest to the society: marine technology, ocean science, marine policy and education. The Journal is dedicated to publishing timely special issues on emerging ocean community concerns while also showcasing general interest and student-authored works.
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