Diversity discussions at EPSC 2018 and analysis of women’s participation in ESA missions
October 1, 2018

Diversity discussions at EPSC 2018

Diversity and inclusion were topics for discussion at the European Planetary Science Congress (EPSC) 2018 at Berlin.  On Friday 21st September, we held a networking lunch where participants were asked to discuss questions on how Europlanet can ensure that its activities, events, facilities and services are accessible and inclusive for the whole research community, how the new Europlanet Society, with its network of regional hubs, can address issues around diversity and inclusiveness.

We had a fantastic turnout and responses are now being evaluated by the Europlanet Diversity Committee and will be used to develop an Action Plan for the Europlanet Society.

Gender and participation in missions

At future EPSC meetings, we hope to have full sessions dedicated to diversity and inclusion. At EPSC 2018, we had a preview of this with a poster presentation by Arianna Piccialli on a preliminary study analysing the historical trend of participation of women scientists in ESA solar system missions.

Piccialli and her colleagues counted the science team members of 10 ESA solar system missions over a period of 38 years and determined the percentage of women on each team. 

The results are striking: several missions had no women as Principal Investigators (PI), the highest participation of women as PI is 23% for ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter, but there is no upwards trend towards women’s participation as PI over the years. Preliminary findings indicate that the percentage of women’s participation as Co-Investigators (Co-I) is always less than 18%. 

The study of gender breakdown for ESA mission and instrument teams follows on from an analysis of participation of women in US planetary science missions by Julie Rathbun et al and uses the same methodology to provide consistency between the two studies.

Participation of women scientists in ESA solar system missions: an historical trend. Arianna Piccialli et al

The authors encountered some difficulties in identifying team members, particularly for older missions, and hope to use the presentation at EPSC 2018 as an opportunity to promote further discussions, refine numbers and collect personal stories from the planetary scientists involved.

If you would like to find out more, or have information or stories to contribute, please contact Arianna Piccialli or download the poster.