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Journal Article

Participation of women scientists in ESA solar system missions: a historical trend


Rengel,  Miriam
Department Planets and Comets, Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research, Max Planck Society;

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Piccialli, A., Rathbun, J. A., Levasseur-Regourd, A.-C., Määttänen, A., Milillo, A., Rengel, M., et al. (2020). Participation of women scientists in ESA solar system missions: a historical trend. Advances in Geosciences, 53, 169-182. doi:10.5194/adgeo-53-169-2020.

Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0006-D5F9-1
We analyzed the participation of women scientists in 10 ESA (European Space Agency) Solar System missions over a period of 38 years. Being part of a spacecraft mission science team can be considered a proxy to measure the “success” in the field. Participation of women in PI (Principal Investigators) teams varied between 4 % and 25 %, with several missions with no women as PI. The percentage of female scientists as Co-I (Co-Investigators) is always less than 16 %. This number is lower than the percentage of women in the International Astronomical Union from all ESA's Member State (24 %), which can give us an indication of the percentage of women in the field. We encountered many difficulties to gather the data for this study. The list of team members were not always easily accessible. An additional difficulty was to determine the percentage of female scientists in planetary science in Europe. We would like to encourage the planetary community as a whole, as well as international organizations, universities and societies to continuously gather statistics over many years. Detailed statistics are only the first step to closely monitor the development of achievement gaps and initiate measures to tackle potential causes of inequity, leading to gender inequalities in STEM careers.