EGU2020-10949, updated on 12 Jun 2020
EGU General Assembly 2020
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

You can't be what you can't see - Increasing the visibility of female scientists

Ronja Ebner1, Allix Baxter2, Jana Cox3, Frances Dunn4, Kimberley Hagemans5, and Lonneke Roelofs6
Ronja Ebner et al.
  • 1Universiteit Utrecht, Geosciences, Earth Sciences, Netherlands (
  • 2Universiteit Utrecht, Geosciences, Earth Sciences, Netherlands (
  • 3Universiteit Utrecht, Geosciences, Physical Geography, Netherlands (
  • 4Universiteit Utrecht, Geosciences, Earth Sciences, Netherlands (
  • 5Universiteit Utrecht, Geosciences, Physical Geography, Netherlands (
  • 6Universiteit Utrecht, Geosciences, Physical Geography, Netherlands (

The Young Women of Geosciences (YWoG) go by the maxim “You can’t be what you can’t see”. We are a group of early stage researchers at Utrecht University striving to make universities more diverse and inclusive. The group was honoured with the university’s Diversity & Inclusion Award 2020 for its goals and activities. 

Although the Netherlands rank high in equality [Gender-Equality-Index of the EU, 2019] and the gender balance among students is close to 50:50, there is still a huge discrepancy when it comes to the male-to-female ratio of employed researchers and their wages [Monitor Vrouwelijke Hoogleraren 2019]. While the various causes for the gender gap are highly debated, we feel strongly that a lack of role-models is one of them.  

Hence, our goals are to increase the visibility of female scientists, connect women to improve the exchange of experiences and to raise awareness for problems caused by a non-diverse and non-inclusive environment. Our regular workshops and soft research on gender in the classroom are therefore aimed at understanding and improving the dynamics within mixed groups. For the same reason we keep our events open to people of all genders. 

In order to achieve our goals, we focus on showcasing role-models by organising “meet & greets”, where young scientists like PhDs and postdocs can learn from and connect to other female scientists in different stages of their careers. On those occasions, we not only invite scientists from Utrecht University but also well-known researchers from abroad, like Conny Aerts from the KU Leuven, Belgium, and first woman to recieve the Francqui Prize. For even broader outreach we organised a symposium on the Experiences of Gender in Academia with a keynote speaker from the Expertise Centre for Diversity Policy. This symposium was also used as an opportunity to improve the exchange with other female scientist networks like WISE from Delft, Netherlands, and WICS from Utrecht, Netherlands. The latter were also awarded with the diversity and inclusion award. 

You can be what you can see! 

How to cite: Ebner, R., Baxter, A., Cox, J., Dunn, F., Hagemans, K., and Roelofs, L.: You can't be what you can't see - Increasing the visibility of female scientists, EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-10949,, 2020

Comments on the presentation

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Presentation version 1 – uploaded on 02 May 2020
  • CC1: success stories, Maria Bostenaru Dan, 02 May 2020

    Earlier on during COVID I wrote on my experience on gender equality. I've been co-chair at mWISET at the Marie Curie Fellows Association and vice chair and now member at formerly GEMS now GEDI at the Marie Curie Alumni Association. In this quality I had different contributions including but not only conference session organisation (eurodoc, ESOF, EGU), participation (EU presidency conferences), representation in COST genderSTE, project writing. Further on I did also some research, within projects or with scholarships. Listing these all, a friend who read it said is sounds like a CV and not like an essay, and if this is my perception, that there is gender equality, since I am not doing it so well. Well, in Romania there is gender equality. Recently THE ranking made a classification according to sustainable development goals, and my university ranked very well in gender equality. 

    • AC1: Reply to CC1, Ronja Ebner, 04 May 2020

      Dear Maria,
      thank you for sharing your work in those organisations and groups. It is also wonderful to hear that you are working in an environment that ranks high in gender equality. Does this ranking represent your experience and do you maybe have a link to that list? It sounds like and interesting thing to look into.

      • CC2: Reply to AC1, Maria Bostenaru Dan, 04 May 2020

        Dear Ronja,

        this is the link!/page/0/length/25/name/mincu/sort_by/rank/sort_order/asc/cols/undefined

        Yes, in Romania women were promoted throughout history, and I did a number of studies on pioneer women in architecture and landscape.

  • AC2: Comment on EGU2020-10949, Ronja Ebner, 04 May 2020

    Dear Maria,

    Thank you a lot for the link. I will have a look at it.

    Have a nice evening


  • CC3: Comment on EGU2020-10949, Sonya Legg, 05 May 2020

    Hi @ronja, I think this is a great initiative. I wonder however if you might consider renaming to "early career" rather than "young" since some PhD students and postdocs may not be young, if they took a nontraditional path or time out for child rearing. They might feel more included. - Sonya Legg

    • AC3: Reply to CC3, Allix Baxter, 05 May 2020

      Hi @Sonya. This is Allix, one of the co-authors. This is a very good point and something we will definitely discuss! Thanks for the comment and joining in our chat. 

      • CC4: Reply to AC3, Sonya Legg, 05 May 2020

        Thanks, Allix! I hope I was able to convey that I think this is a great initiative, and no criticism intended. 

        • AC4: Reply to CC4, Ronja Ebner, 05 May 2020

          Don't worry. We read it as constructive critisism, which is very welcome :-)

        • AC5: Reply to CC4, Frances Dunn, 05 May 2020

          Absolutely, we understand! It is something that we've discussed previously, while wanting to keep 'branding' and identity clear in our name, as well as what we do and why. All suggestions welcome!