University of Glasgow: ONLINE ENGAGEMENT EVENT SET TO ENCOURAGE GIRLS INTO GEOSCIENCE

Young female and nonbinary people across the UK and Ireland are being encouraged to consider a career in geoscience with a virtual event day in June.

The Girls into Geoscience initiative, now in its seventh year of operation, aims to introduce young female students in the later stages of high school (S5 and S6 in Scotland, GCSE to A-Level in the rest of the UK and Transition Year to Leaving Certificate in Ireland) to study and pursue a career in the scientifically diverse field of geoscience.

Geoscience is the study of Earth’s past, present, and future. It incorporates a wide range of expertise from across the sciences to help develop our understanding of Earth’s complex intersecting biological, hydrological, geological and ecological systems.

Girls into Geoscience was launched in 2014 at the University of Plymouth, expanding to include the universities across the UK and Ireland. This year’s events will be held online on 28th and 29th June 2021.

The Girls into Geoscience events bring together women from industry, government bodies, academia and high schools in order to highlight and promote geoscience and its potential as a valuable subject and career for women to pursue. Geoscience is rarely offered as a subject in its own right in schools across the UK but aspects of geoscience are taught in mainstream subjects such as chemistry, biology, geography and physics.

This year’s event, like last year’s, will be held online due to the continuing COVID-19 pandemic, which offers new opportunities to expand the diversity of speakers along with the number of attendees.

Girls signing up to take part this year can look forward to a varied selection of speakers talking about their careers in the geosciences. A series of question and answer panels will cover topics including life in the field, careers, and University life. Attendees can also choose from a host of virtual fieldtrips, from the Himalayas to Skye, and workshops looking at Peruvian glaciers, natural hazards, microfossils, climate change and forensic geology.

Dr Amanda Owen, lecturer in sedimentology at the School of Geographical and Earth Sciences, helped organise the University of Glasgow’s involvement in previous events. She is part of the event’s organising committee with GiG teams from University of Plymouth, Aberystwyth University, University of Leeds and the iCRAG centre in Ireland.

Dr Owen said: “We were thrilled to have more than 200 girls take part in last year’s event, even though it was entirely online. It shows that young women across the UK are already curious about careers in geoscience, and it’s great that taking the event into the virtual world actually allowed us to reach many more girls than we would have been able to with any of our previous physical events.”

Dr Jodie Fisher and Dr Sarah Boulton from the University of Plymouth, and co-founders of Girls into Geoscience, said: “As our planet continues to experience the effects of climate change in the coming decades, the field of geoscience is set to become even more important. Geoscientists will play a vital role in helping us monitor, mitigate and adapt to the changes we’re already beginning to see around the world.”

Elspeth Wallace, Education and Public Engagement Officer at iCRAG centre, Ireland added: “Anyone can be a geoscientist, regardless of gender, ethnicity or disability. A key part of Girls into Geoscience is showing participants that the field of geoscience can be a balanced, safe place in which everyone is welcome. The brilliant line up of our role models from a diverse range of areas really goes to show that no matter what area of geoscience you’re interested in, there’s a place for you.”

Dr Marie Busfield from Aberystwyth University said: “Geoscience is such a diverse and important subject, combining so many different elements of chemistry, physics, biology, environmental science, geography and geology, and with a vital role in looking after the future of our planet. I’m so excited to join our ever-growing GiG network again this year to offer an incredible and free programme of talks, workshops, panels and field trips by amazing leaders in the field to showcase what the fascinating world of geoscience is all about!”

This year the team has expanded to include the University of Leeds who will be involved with the event for the first time. Dr Tracy Aze, of the School of Earth and Environment, said: “We are delighted to be joining the incredibly successful Girls Into Geoscience initiative as the new ‘GiG North’ chapter. The project has already inspired so many young people to get more involved geosciences, so we are very excited to provide a presence in the north of England to help foster this further. This year we are joining the virtual event team and we look forward to running campus-based event in future years.”


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