Women in limnology in the Iberian Peninsula: biases, barriers and recommendations

Sánchez-Montoya, María MarPastor, AdaAristi, Ibóndel Arco, Ana IsabelAntón-Pardo, MaríaBartrons, Mireia;Ruíz, CeliaFeio, Maria O.Gallardo, Belinda   Chappuis, EglantineCatalán, Núria. Limnética 35 (1): 61-72 (2016)

Gender biases in science have received increasing attention in recent years. Underrepresentation at the highest academic levels and bias in publication are some of the factors affecting women in science. In this study, we assessed the situation of women in Limnology, a specific field of natural sciences, within the geographic context of the Iberian Peninsula.We used a multi-faceted approach to diagnose the situation, and we propose guidelines to reduce gender gaps in Limnology. The database of members of the Iberian Limnological Association (AIL) was used to analyse the variability between genders at different professional stages. Data was also compiled on plenary speakers who attended conferences organized by different associations (AIL, SEFS and ASLO) to assess women’s visibility. A published data set was used to identify leadership patterns in publications with respect to gender. Finally, a survey of AIL memberswas conducted to understand their perception of the barriers in science that result in differences between the genders. This study recognized differences at the recruitment level (more tenured positions are held by men), visibility at conferences (fewer women are invited as plenary speakers) and publication as team leaders (men have more publications as first and last authors). Survey participants recognised the scarcity of grants/funding, difficulties in balancing life and career, and the scarcity of job opportunities as the three main barriers in science, regardless of gender. Yet, women identified family-related barriers such as having children and gender biases more frequently. Overall, our study indicates that there is a general gender bias in the field of Limnology in the Iberian Peninsula; however, it is slightly lower than the reported levels in Europe and for other disciplines in Spain. Finally, we provide a list of recommendations to balance the current biases based on suggestions made by the participants of a round table held at the XVII Congress of the AIL (Santander, July 2014). We encourage associations in natural sciences and the AIL in particular to use this study as a guideline for best practices as well as a baseline for future analysis of gender biases.