Women in Science: ERIKA (Empowerment /Employment of female researchers in Key Assignments


Sustainability of marine management and thus marine systems is dependent upon maximum efficiency and use of human resources, ability and associated capacity. Especially in the realm of marine science in the developing world, we currently are not even close to utilizing and harnessing this potential. Sustainability of marine and especially coastal ecosystems is imperative with regard to Human Future and thus is an ambitious and challenging goal. The greatest loss of human capacity, particularly related to solution-oriented and community inclusive environmental management is the loss of educated woman at the cusp between a finished education and entry into the workforce. This is due to a variety of issues but particularly due to the lack of neutral, unbiased and open human facilitators and particularly female facilitators. The sustainability of planetary resources is primarily dependent on female innovation and networking. We wish to set up a working group to address this issue.

The potential of female researchers and scientists is globally highly under-achieved, although the number of female graduates are about equal to male numbers. With increasing faculty rank the percentage of females in high ranks is much lower than the one of male scientists. Comparing highly developed economies and emerging economies, both institutional systems facing the same problem of this gender gap in higher positions, but it is especially unequal in emerging systems. As seagoing observations are still a major part of the oceanographic methods, the number of chief scientists on a research vessel can serve as an indicator for female participation. Orcutt and Cetinić (2014) found that the percentage of female chief scientists increased overall in the last decade, but the percentage is still low in comparison to the percentage of women in oceanographic academia and the number of these from emerging countries is likely to be very much lower. In 2019 the World Ocean day theme was “Gender and the Ocean” which addressed the importance of gender equality. With regard to the effective conservation and sustainable use of oceans, seas and marine resources the role of woman is increasingly being recognized. In this theme, it was stated that actions towards gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls are still needed in all ocean-related sectors to achieve the Sustainable Development Goal 5.

How ERIKA contributes to POGO priority areas

By empowering a large group of female researchers, the working group will contribute to the development of key skills, capabilities and capacities needed to achieve the vision of a sustainable, state-of-the-art global ocean observing system which serves the needs of science and society. It will address the Sustainable Development Goals and fostering suitable and excellent young scientists to work with Governments, Foundations and Industry. The benefits to society and required funding to build and sustain the systems into the future will be articulated.

This working group aims to put together a group of known female facilitators in marine science by combining existing networks and initiatives. Together we will to develop a concept for fellowships / positions for females in marine bodies focussed on developing countries. This concept will facilitate persons with a high potential for evolving into co-facilitators and who will see the need to help other women and society. By implementing this concept in an internationally visible campaign, we want to make this highly visible, prestigious and “desirable” by employers. We will find key sponsors to run this concept and identify institutions for a trial run. This position / scholarship should be applied for by the potential institution and employers in a competition for positions through a central neutral body- POGO in association with GOOS. The deliverable will be a concept for a sustainable key position of female scientist position and the preparation of trail assignment

The deliverables are:

  • D1: Development of a concept for a welcoming implementation of female researchers in key positions in existing institutions
  • D2: Presentation of ideas and concept on high-level conference(s)
  • D3: Engaging in a close cooperation and interactions with other bodies with the same like Women4oceans, WIMOSA, ECOPS (Early career Ocean Professionals), Women in STEM, WomeninPolarScience, Society for Women in Marine Science (SWIMS), IOC, GIZ (Gesellschaft für International Zusammenarbeit) etc.
  • D4: Engaging key sponsors for this programme

Status: Active Working group

Year: 2020-2022

Members involved

Working group Participants


  • Karen Helen Wiltshire, AWI, Germany


  • Glenn Nolan, Marine Institute, Ireland
  • Eva-Maria Brodte, AWI, Germany
  • Edem Mahu, University of Ghana, Ghana
  • Mary Wisz, WMU, Sweden
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