Career advances in academia is commonly considered to be meritocratic, meaning that there is a believe that anyone can succeed and be successful with hard-work and dedication. Discussions around the risk of bias inherent to a meritocratic system are increasing. A merit-based system 'discriminates' on the basis of how much 'merit' a person has, favouring those who have more of it – or are perceived to have more of it.
Discussions around meritocracy focus on two immediate issues. It assumes as a pre-condition that everyone has equal opportunities to access and, consequently, acquire merits. And also, that the assessment of merits is not always shaped and influenced by objective criteria that predict performance to the future task or position.
Regarding the first condition, the average share of women STEM in EU-28 made up 39 % of graduates at doctoral level and 35 % of grade C, 28 % of grade B and 15 % of grade A academic staff (SHE FIGURES 2018). The leaky-pipe phenomenon undermines the quality of research and represents an invaluable loss to academia, economy and society. The underrepresentation of women in higher echelons and leadership positions in academia is a complex matter hardly justified by purely meritocratic criteria.
In terms of the second condition, the criteria that predict performance depend on the quality of the assessment. Fair assessment and decisions require two conditions: i) all people are perfectly rational (and unbiased) at all times; ii) all people have access to correct information. Neither of these are trivial.
This session will focus on what to do to avoid the loss of female talent in academia as well as to promote gender equality.
Moderator: Helen M. Glaves - EGU Vice-President
Co-Moderator: Alberto Montanari - EGU President
Mary Anne Holmes - Former Director and co-PI of ADVANCE-Nebraska
Ligia Pérez-Cruz - President of the Mexican Geophysical Union (UGM)
Mathias Wullum Nielsen - Associate Professor, University of Copenhagen