Observations from women in science communication
Sonia Bluhm and Alysha Huxley, Scientell
Communication is a field traditionally dominated by women. Science communication is an emerging specialist branch within the field of communication. A high proportion of women are already working in science communication, but as an emerging field, we have the opportunity to shape how inclusive it continues to be.
We make up 50% of Scientell. As women working as practitioners in science communication, we have observed gender trends and changes in the field.
At the recent Australian Science Communicators conference in Canberra, Sonia observed that the conference had a great gender mix – a roughly equal number of men and women (or maybe even slightly more women), which was fantastic. This is quite different from many scientific conferences we have attended recently, where men often dominate the room.
But while equal (or possibly even greater) numbers of women in science communication is good, it doesn’t necessarily equate to an equal power division.
We have observed that women primarily work as science communicators within organisations or as sole operators, whereas there is a higher proportion of male-led companies. Men in higher positions of power is a pattern across many industries. Thankfully, it is something that society is now recognising and working to change. As with other industries, more women in senior roles in science communication encourages other women to see those higher roles as a possibility for themselves, and a chain reaction begins. Of course, not all women want to own their own company or be senior leaders, but we need to ensure opportunities exist for those who do.
On International Women’s Day, we encourage women to seek opportunities to work in inspirational businesses and organisations with trusted colleagues and good leaders. The phrase ‘you can’t be what you can’t see’ is relevant. We encourage women to be proactive in your employment choices. Look for companies with inclusive employment plans and consider their hiring policies and maternity leave conditions.
As science communication becomes a dinner table term, we need to hear more women’s names and voices and see more of our faces leading the way.
Across all areas of STEM, there are increasingly more resources and groups available to support women. Here are our picks:
- Your institution may also have resources, such as this from the University of Melbourne: https://science.unimelb.edu.au/about/diversity-and-inclusion/women-in-science