How many senior women conservationists are there?

I was reminded when reading a Guardian article today that it is International Women's Day soon (for those of you who don't know, it's 8th March).  The Guardian report was of interest to me, as it talked about how there is a shocking lack of entries for women scientists on Wikipedia.  It's been over 8 decades since women won the right to vote in the UK, and you'd think that by now we should be seen as equal citizens to our male counterparts.  In fact, many of us believe that we are now considered equal.

How wrong they are.

The Times published an average salary of full-time academic staff in 2011-2012, clearly stating that in all cases across England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Island, women consistently earned less than men.

I took it upon myself to see whether there was an equal number of men and women employed in my University School of Anthropology and Conservation.  Only 34% of women made up the academic staff list; of two departments, anthropology raised the bar with 39% of staff being women, but only 27% of staff at DICE are women.

So maybe women don't want to be academics?

I then went to five of the largest international conservation organisation websites to look at their senior job boards and here's what I found:

World Wildlife Fund employed 36% women on their senior staff board.
This was 35% for Conservation International, 46% for Fauna and Flora International and only 33% for Wildlife Conservation Society.  Leading the way was The Nature Conservancy as the only large conservation NGO employing more women than men on their management team, with 55% of members being women.

However not one single CEO was a woman.

Could this be that women are less ambitious than men?  Or because some take time out of their careers to have children they are hindered to progress?  Or maybe they prefer more administrative jobs?

I'd be interested to interview female senior conservationists to ask their opinions about how hard it was for them to reach the top and whether they still feel there is sexism in the workplace.

In any case, although we have come a long way since the 19th century, I still believe we have much work to do.  First and foremost is to raise awareness that women are still not equal.  Let's spread the word - both men and women - to ensure that half the population are not left behind.  After all, Mother Nature herself needs all the help she can get.

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