The EAG Forum as a Vehicle for Community Change and Improved Equity
As an international community and as an association, we have recently begun talking more openly about how to combat inequities in our discipline (EAG DEI Committee et al. 2022; EAG DEI Committee 2021; Riches et al. 2021; Pourret et al. 2021 and references therein). Our community as a whole benefits when talented individuals have access to opportunities, infrastructure, and scientific networks regardless of their professional privileges, access to certain networks, or personal identity.
How do we go about making this change?
It might be helpful to think of a concrete example of how opportunities in our field often come about. Let’s say you’re a doctoral student at a university without a particular analytical instrument, or a particular computational tool, that would provide some key additional information for your project. How would you initiate a collaboration that would let you move forward? Most likely through a person in your supervisor’s scientific network.
Or if you’re an early-career scientist looking to broaden your research and set up a research project together with someone with complementary skills, how likely do you think it would be to get a positive response if you just e-mailed other scientists without someone with name-recognition introducing you first?
To some extent, this may simply reflect the fact that science is a human endeavour, and that scientists are people too: we like to work with people we know, and with whom we already know we work well. But let’s be aware, first, of the cultural biases that may unconsciously influence our choice of scientific networks; and second, that such a process also propagates inequalities in accessing opportunities, and the concentration of privilege among the better-connected.
But isn’t it silly to use the term ‘better-connected’ in 2022, when all geochemists can—in theory—very easily be in contact with each other?
Since 2020, the EAG Membership platform has included the EAG Forum, a discussion forum for all things geochemistry. It’s easy to get started (here’s how!). Topics include teaching (online and in person), resources for geochemists, and careers and education, to name just a few. Every EAG member has access to this forum—and we as a community can make this a lively space for the exchange of information, ideas, and opportunities that will improve our science and promote equity within our discipline.
By the EAG Communications Committee, with thanks to the EAG DEI Committee
EAG DEI Committee ± E-DIAL Collaborators (2022) Where do geochemistry teams start and end? Professional and technical support is vital to us all!
EAG DEI Committee (2021) Professional Culture: Let’s Talk Tackling of Inequity, Injustice, and Absent Talent. Feature, EAG Blog. https://blog.eag.eu.com/news/professional-culture-lets-talk-tackling-of-inequity-injustice-and-absent-talent/
Riches AJV, Pourret O, Little SH (2021) Uniting to Advance Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in a Pandemic and Post-Pandemic World. Feature, EAG Blog. https://blog.eag.eu.com/news/uniting-to-advance-diversity-equity-and-inclusion-in-a-pandemic-and-post-pandemic-world/
Pourret O and 9 co-authors (2021) Diversity, Equity and Inclusion: Tackling Under-Representation and Recognition of Talents in Geochemistry and Cosmochemistry. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta 310, doi: 10.1016/j.gca.2021.05.054