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The Journal of Land Use Science dedicated their first issue of 2022 to 'Women in Land Science'. We invite you to read part of the issue's editorial introduction below and to read the rest of the issue (open access).
We are delighted to present this collection of articles under the theme ‘Women in Land Science.’ The three guest editors and one editor in chief all decided to collate such an issue at a March 2021 virtual meeting of the journal’s editorial board when brainstorming ideas of current interest and timely need, for this journal to address. The Journal of Land Use Science was seen as a perfect location for such a special issue focus. The journal itself is a strong representation of excellence in the field as well as representation by gender as highlighted both in the journal co-editors and the editorial board composition. More specifically, the journal is co-edited by two lead scientists, Dr. Daniel Müller and Dr. Darla Munroe, one man and one woman. Of the 22 members of the editorial board, there are 12 men and 10 women serving in this role. The representation of female scientists in key research leadership positions is an important factor within the discourse on gender bias.
In a recently published piece in AGU Advances (Ranganathan et al., 2021), the authors highlight the continuing persistence of inequality within academia in the geosciences. Their research finds that while 27% of faculty in academia in the US are women, this is not equal across ranks. More specifically, while 46% of assistant professors are female, this decreases to only 19% of full professors. The researchers did not have sufficient data to determine all the causes of such discrepancies especially related to higher attrition of female researchers; however, they do discuss other research that has pointed to higher female attrition linked to existing institutional cultures and policies such as very weak or inadequate childcare and maternity leave, a lack of protection from harassment, inadequate timelines to tenure, and existing cultures of sexism all leading to academic careers becoming inaccessible to women and other historically excluded groups. This article was part of a special issue in AGU Advances addressing ‘Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in the Earth and Space Sciences.’ Thus, the current JLUS issue is timely in that we are also making space for these discussions, happening in many other fields across the social and natural sciences.
According to UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS), less than 30% of the world’s researchers are women (uis.unesco.org 2021) and so the goal of this special issue is twofold. First, we wish to highlight some of the amazing research being conducted and led by female research scientists within the field of land-use science. In addition, we also wish to contribute to the necessary discussions on the challenges and possible deterrents for women researchers within these same fields. The fact that such an issue could also be the very first Open Access issue for the journal was extra motivation for us to put out a call and move papers through the submission, review, and revision process as quickly as possible. It is a testament to the passion and the dedication of the authors in this issue that we received such an intellectually rich set of contributions that are scientifically important, timely, and collectively can forge an ambitious agenda for the land-system science community in its efforts to broaden and diversify in the years to come.
In the sections below, we first reflect on our experience and relations to gender equity in land-use science. We then briefly summarize three emergent themes from the issue: the coherence among the land science applications featured in the issue, the contours of the extant gender gap in land science training, research, and authorship, and finally, what opportunities exist for quickest and effective interventions. In this final section of this introduction, we draw from the insights of these authors to issue an ongoing challenge to our community – given the work that remains to be for greater gender equity in land science, what role do we all have to play?