I recently received my annual election ballot from the American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG), an organization which I’ve been a part for almost 20 years. I was truly disappointed to see a candidate slate of six men for the three positions up for election to the Executive Committee (ExCom) this year.
AAPG has an overall representation of 18-20% female membership.
This figure should be much higher, and there are efforts within the organization to achieve this (e.g. PROWESS); however, not even one woman (that would have accounted for ~17% of the candidates, hence commensurate with the overall membership statistics) was present on the ballot.
This made me look into the historical representation of women in AAPG leadership (ExCom) which has grown from 4 to 8 members from 1917 to the present. When reviewing the data presented by AAPG in their 2017 Annual Report, I found that the cumulative percentage of female ExCom members since 1917 is a mere 6%. The first representation of female members was in 1987; since then, we’ve seen the percentage of women on the ExCom fluctuate from 0% to 29% (averaging 15%). The first female president wasn’t until 2001, and there have only been three in total (2001, 2014, & 2018).
Fortunately, the cumulative female representation since 1987 is 15% which at least represents the current membership. In total, approximately 34 of the total 563 positions (since 1917, 232 total since 1987) have been occupied by women; however, a concerning statistic is that these 34 positions appear to have been occupied by only 14 individual women. These few trailblazers should be lauded and thanked for their service.
Groups like PROWESS and dedicated individuals within the organization (e.g. Denise Cox, the incoming President) are working hard to encourage the expansion of female representation in AAPG – their effort should be applauded. But we must continue to strive to close this gender disparity when it comes to both general membership and elected officers.