Tackling gender barriers with Girls into Geosciences

Schools from across the country will be attending a special conference aimed at inspiring girls to consider careers in science industries and research – and confront some of the gender barriers that persist to their entry.

Girls into Geoscience will hear from female professionals who work in different geological fields, talking about their careers and experiences in areas such as petroleum, engineering and off-shore exploration.

And the event at Plymouth University will feature a number of interactive workshops, including how Google Earth can help explore the tectonic plates, how to reconstruct past climate change through micropalaeontology, and how to lift the lid on the structure of the planet.

Dr Sarah Boulton, a Lecturer in Remote Sensing in Geodynamics, in the University’s School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences, and one of the organisers of the event, said: 

“Physical sciences still lag behind other subject areas in terms of gender equality both in respect of the students taking courses and the staff teaching them. Nationally, earth science has 35 per cent female academics compared to 65 per cent male, and that ratio is similarly reflected in terms of female and male students entering the subject at undergraduate level.”

Year 11 and 12 girls from across the country are booked to attend the conference on 16 July, which is being sponsored by BP. A representative from the company will be among those talking about their careers in the morning, as will Plymouth graduate Danielle Pullen, who has gone on to work in engineering geology.

After further talks on geology at sea, and the life of an academic, the afternoon will be given over to 45-minute workshops, all presented by Plymouth academics, and which will all link into the A-Level curriculum.

The workshops include using Google Earth to calculate rates of plate motion, measure fault parameters and look at landscape change due to active tectonics, and examining microscopic seashells and deep sea sediments to reconstruct past environments and climates.

“I love being a geologist as I get to investigate how our planet works and get to travel around it,” said Sarah. “We want to show the girls that geology isn’t just for the boys and inspire them to think about careers and possibilities they may not have considered before.”

Earth sciences at Plymouth

The fantastic surrounding geology makes Plymouth the perfect place to study Earth sciences.

Formally accredited by the Geological Society of London, our courses provide a supportive atmosphere resulting in outstanding student feedback.