Women in Soil Science: Growing Participation, Emerging Gaps, and the Opportunities for Advancement in the USA
Van Miegroet, Helga
Brevik, Eric C.
Berhe, Asmeret Asefaw
MetadataShow full item record
The soil science discipline has undergone significant changes since its establishment in the 1900s; from strong connections with agronomy to a broader focus on ecosystems, earth, and environmental sciences while also during this period experiencing a notable increase in diversity among soil scientists. In this review, we explore soil science from the perspective of gender demographics and disciplinary foci of soil scientists. We examine graduate student enrollment metrics; employment information in academia, the federal government, and the private sector; and membership data from SSSA to gain deeper insight into these changes and the implications for the future of soil science. Women earn nearly half of the advanced soil science degrees. The number of women pursuing soil science careers has also increased, albeit less markedly, as women now comprise 24, 26, and 20% of the soil scientists in academic faculty positions, federal agencies, and private industry, respectively. However, there is reason for concern that women linger in intermediate levels of employment, and further attrition occurs along the career ladder with only similar to 18% of the highest employment levels held by women; even fewer reach executive leadership levels in any sector. The growing participation of women in soil science is further reflected in a nearly 45% increase in female membership and meeting attendance in SSSA over the past decade, but recognition of their accomplishments and their presence in SSSA leadership positions remains low. We provide recommendations toward greater inclusion and gender diversity as this represents an important pathway to grow and innovate our science.