Supporting women in paleo

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    @egardner – I know the Society of Vert Paleo has a Code of Conduct that it posts up at every meeting, but I am not sure of what happens if someone violates the code. I feel that the consequences of such actions should be clearly stated and not something handled behind closed doors. Transparency is needed to ensure that all parties are treated accordingly.

    One a slight side-note, this is a topic we are hoping to discuss at a “Supporting Diversity” workshop that @michelle-barboza and I are helping to organize for SVP Calgary. Rebecca Hunt-Foster is leading the charge on this and submitted the workshop proposal on Monday. Hopefully it gets approved. If it does, I hope that some of you can make it the workshop to bring up subjects like the ones brought up in the forum.


    Michelle Barboza

    I’m happy to report that efforts to support women in paleontology are taking place in organizations beyond the myFOSSIL forums, and I thought I would share this article written by @taorminalepore, highlighting the actions taken to support women in paleontology at the 2016 annual meeting of the Society of Vertebrate paleontology.

    The article was posted in the PLOS paleo community, a blog hosted by the online, peer reviewed journal, PLOS one:

    I’m excited to see how initiatives concerning women in paleontology continue to evolve over the upcoming year, especially those highlighted at professional conferences! What steps might professional societies take to include/expand these efforts?


    @michelle-barboza @gsantos

    As an addendum: fingers crossed on the submitted SVP workshop proposal on diversity in science!

    And, with regard to PaleoSoc, I run their social media (took over from Phoebe Cohen recently) and can chat with Tony Martin (communications officer) to see whether the society should clarify sanctions for policy violations? Bruce might have some thoughts? @bmacfadden

    Bruce MacFadden

    Hi Tara @taorminalepore – Please tell me more about policy violations.


    Hi Bruce, we were just wondering earlier in November about whether there are any sanctions in place for folks who violate discrimination policies, as listed here:

    – thanks for your input!

    Eleanor Gardner

    Welcome to the myFOSSIL community, @kate-griener!  We would love your engagement on the Women in Paleontology forum.  As a professional employed in the petroleum field, have you found yourself having to overcome discrimination in your field?  Have you connected with fellow women / mentors in your field for support?  I hope you’ll join us for our first Women in Paleo webinar on Jan 25th! 🙂

    Kate Griener

    Hi @egardner! I would love to be engaged in the Women in Paleontology forum. I am very fortunate to have supportive mentors who are both female and male, but I think it is difficult to completely escape gender-based discrimination as a woman in science or as a woman in a field that has so long been dominated by men.

    I recently finished reading The Fossil Hunter by Shelley Emling, which details the life of Mary Anning, who faced blatant discrimination from the geological community during her lifetime despite being a leader in the field of paleontology. While we have obviously come a long way since Anning’s time, subtler forms of gender discrimination and “unconscious biases” still exist – e.g. primarily men in highest positions, being interrupted/spoken over during presentations, prevalence of “boys’/men’s club” mentality, being passed over on opportunities, being excluded from certain groups/meetings, etc. I think one of the most important ways we can combat gender discrimination in paleontology and in STEM disciplines in general is through educating and mentoring a younger generation to show them examples/role models of women pursuing and succeeding in these areas. I grew up with a number of great women role models (my mom has a master’s degree in occupational therapy; my favorite biology and calculus teachers in high school were both women; I received a BS in math at a school with more female math professors than male; my graduate advisor was a woman; and I’ve had women supervisors and technical mentors since joining the workforce). I think these experiences certainly shaped me as a person and also gave me an understanding growing up that I could pursue a career in any discipline that interested me, whether it was in the sciences or elsewhere.

    Please let me know how I join you for the first Women in Paleo webinar. This sounds like a great discussion!

    Eleanor Gardner

    Ah, shoot, I somehow didn’t get the notification that you’d replied @kate-griener!  My apologies.  If you’d like to watch the recording of the first Women in Paleo webinar, you can find it here:  The next webinar will take place on Feb 22 with Dr. Brenda Hunda of the Cincinnati Museum Center.  The remaining two webinars in the series will be on March 29 and April 26.  To join the live webinars, just connect at and enter as a guest with your name.  Note: we use AdobeConnect conferencing software which requires Flash Player.

    I believe that @bmacfadden recently read Shelley Emling’s book, too, and I think he co-led a trip to Lyme Regis to trace Mary Anning’s footsteps.  Bruce has mentored quite a few female graduate students over the years.  How have you taken steps to avoid unconscious bias against women in science, @bmacfadden?

    , I think it is great that you had excellent role models throughout your life.  A paper I read last year indicated that when girls and young women are exposed to a variety of female role models in science *and* are provided with encouragement/support, they are significantly more likely to pursue a career in STEM.  Sounds like you got the perfect mix. 🙂  What is your average day on the job like (do you have an “average day”?)?

    Michelle Barboza

    Welcome to the Women in Paleontology forum @kate-griener! I really connect with your note on unconscious bias. I’m a graduate student in vertebrate paleontology (I’m actually one of the many female grad students of @bmacfadden that @egardner mentioned!) but I’m also really interested in science communication and I run a podcast about the history of women in STEM. In the last episode of the podcast, I highlighted the story of 19th century American geneticist Nettie Stevens. Her story really clearly exemplifies the issue of unconscious bias!

    Mary Anning will actually be featured on the podcast as well! I’m excited to have paleontology graduate students Amy Atwater and Meaghan Emery (hosts of the blog Mary Anning’s Revenge) join me as guests on the episode. I’ll let you know when it goes up in the late spring!

    As for role models, @taorminalepore is doing super rad work as a paleontology educator at Alf Museum of Paleontology, where she works with high school students. You might want to check out the Women in Paleo: Spotlights section of the forum to learn about what other ladies are up to!

    Eleanor Gardner

    Hi, all!  Reviving this thread to share the following story that was published via Wired Magazine today:  Although it highlights problems in engineering specifically, the problem is broadly applicable across all areas of STEM.

    Over the years, I’ve sadly encountered many people who simply discount gender bias in science (and particularly in paleontology).  I’m curious to learn more about what was covered at the SVP diversity & inclusion workshop!

    , @gsantos, @sboessenecker, @rboessenecker … who else from myFOSSIL attended the workshop?



    The workshop was really a great success. We had plenty of folks there working together to discuss issues faced by many minority groups within the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology and solutions that the society could implement to help our members from diverse backgrounds.

    In short, one of the biggest solutions we came up with was increasing representation of diverse members among leadership and in the public’s views. Whether that was through having more people of diverse backgrounds take positions in leadership or continuing the Women in Paleo luncheon or making the LGBT+ dinner an official part of SVP. We also came up with the idea of mentorship programs for students and early career scientists to help those navigate the field and advise on some of the difficulties that they may come by.

    There are many other topics that we touched on, gender bias being another major one, that we will be writing up and including in some kind of article that summarizes the workshop.

    One of the most important parts of the workshop was that the VP of SVP, Emily Rayfield, participated in the discussion and that all of what we had discussed will be passed on to the newly formed Diversity Committee at SVP to help them move forward.

    I will share the article soon as its ready!

    This is only the beginning of positive change for SVP and hopefully for the rest of paleontology and science in general!

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