Dr Cecilia Medupin is a Lecturer in the School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, at The University of Manchester and convener of Women in Environmental Sciences group. On Ada Lovelace day, Cecilia gives her eight-point plan for how to tackle inequality for women in environmental science. Including:
Historically, women across the globe experience discrimination in relation to gender roles, sexuality, education, employment opportunities and so on. Over the past three decades there has been some progress in women empowerment in the areas of politics and education. There has also been an increase in the enrolment of women in higher education, especially in the humanities and the social sciences. However, low representation of women is known to be a problem in science, technology, engineering and mathematics areas; both within education and employment.
Women, especially those in deprivation feel the impact of climate change and environmental degradation more than most. Goal five of the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which focuses on women empowerment and gender equality, is an international strategy for achieving gender equality. However, in order to operationalise many international and national gender equality policies and environmental plans, environmental sensitization must be linked to gender empowerment issues. Women must be supported to take stronger initiatives in creating a sustainable world and, women in leadership positions should also support other women to advance their careers. This must occur at all levels including local, regional, national and international levels. It must also involve family units, urban and rural communities, education systems, industry and regulatory institutions.
As an initiative to identify environmental issues that border women and the local communities in the UK, The University of Manchester organised a workshop for Women in Environmental Sciences (WiES). The workshop provided a platform to raise ideas and solutions around some of the issues highlighted in the recent UN’s SDG reports. These are the eight recommendations that came out of this workshop:
Participants agreed that many of the action areas identified during this event would be taken up at a follow-up event. It was further resolved that WiES will develop a link for sharing information and key developments for communication with participants and other interested parties after the event. Tackling inequality for women in environmental science is not going to happen overnight, but this group is a great start to making the changes that need to happen both within The University of Manchester and more broadly.