TOWARDS GENDER EQUALITY IN EDUCATION AND CAREER IN THE EARTH OBSERVATION AND GI SECTOR
Keywords: gender gap, gender bias, gender inequality, STEM, Copernicus, GIS, EO
Abstract. Gender inequality is omnipresent in our society and in the field of education and training, the gender gap is especially evident in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) disciplines. While different studies have been conducted about potential reasons explaining this gap, little is known about gender inequality and underlying factors in the Earth Observation and Geoinformatics (EO*GI) domain. To close some parts of this knowledge gap, the initiative Women in Copernicus was established with the overall goal to make women working in the EO*GI field and especially in the Copernicus ecosystem more visible. This paper analyses the results of a survey of 462 women identifying reasons for not choosing STEM education and the barriers related to educational choices in their career path. The main obstacles that hinder choosing a STEM education for these women are stereotypes in society, missing female role models but also culture, television and society message transmitted by the media. The lack of self-confidence is an essential factor in this choice and is also experienced as a barrier during individual career paths. This analysis provides insights valuable for political decisions making targeting at a gender-balanced work environment and emphasizes the importance of attracting more girls and young women towards a STEM education and supporting them during their career to reach skills and occupational equality and strengthen the economic development of the EO*GI sector.