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Earth Science Women's Network

The official biography below was current at the time of the award. See the organization’s website for its latest information.

Earth Science Women's Network (ESWN), with a database of over 2,000 women geoscientists, was founded in 2002 by six atmospheric scientists. The organization is supported by the American Geophysical Union, and is designed to meet the career needs of women across the geosciences-broadly defined as scientific disciplines related to the study of the earth, environment, and energy issues. The goal of ESWN is to promote career development, build community, provide informal mentoring and support, and facilitate professional collaborations.

ESWN seeks to empower early career women nationally and internationally in the geosciences. The three main arenas of ESWN mentoring are: (1) online interactions, (2)in-person networking, and (3) professional development workshops. Mentoring activity of the ESWN began with an email Listserv in 2005, and this has motivated many of the subsequent online activities as social networking technologies improved. The online communications among network members provide opportunities to find colleagues with similar research interests and provide them the space to communicate about professional and personal issues and solicit advice from one another. The majority of the women (59 percent) hold a Ph.D. and are largely considered to be early-career scientists. Through the ESWN network, they discuss issues relating to gender in the workplace, learn about professional workshops and meetings, post job openings and organize informal events at professional gatherings. In 2009, a survey indicated that 95 percent of all ESWN listserve participants for the network to be a valuable tool.

In recognition of the importance of face-to-face interactions, ESWN-coordinated receptions have been organized at various venues, especially large scientific meetings. The networking events aim to remove feelings of intimidation and isolation often associated with large meetings, especially for early-career scientists. Career development workshops are also offered, and expand professional networking among both female and male ESWN members. National Science Foundation funding supports these professional development workshops through its ADVANCE program.

One ESWN member remarks that "ESWN benefits all members of the scientific community, male and female, by training scientists in essential skills of leadership, networking, mentoring, strategic planning, and writing; by helping female scientists build confidence and pursue scientific careers, thereby increasing diversity in the scientific workforce; and by advancing issues related to all members of the scientific community such as improving time management, instituting family-friendly policies, navigating careers in academia and industry, and dealing with the unique stresses faced by students, postdocs, and pre- and post-tenure faculty members."

The ethos of ESWN has influenced women to use their leadership roles in their respective workplaces to promote diversity, and mentor early-career women scientists. The ESWN network has been uniquely situated to build relationships that foster scientific breakthroughs, career advancement, and sustained mentoring.