The world’s leading climate science body is expected to decide this week on whether to establish a new task force on promoting gender equity within the male-dominated group. The move comes on the heels of a study finding that although the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has increased the proportion of women involved in writing its authoritative reports, barriers to participation remain.
IPCC, an international organization founded in 1988 by the United Nations, is best known for its lengthy, periodic reports assessing climate science and policy options for curbing global warming. The hundreds of authors that produce the reports are nominated by member governments and others. But just 2% of the authors of IPCC’s first report in 1990 were women, reported a study published last month in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). That share had increased to 23% by 2013, when its fifth report was being written, the survey found.
In 2015, the United Nations put a spotlight on improving gender equity within its programs, and IPCC moved to sponsor discussions of the issue. At one meeting held last September in Montreal, Canada, geographer Diana Liverman of The University of Arizona (UA) in Tuscon, an IPCC participant for 2 decades, presented the results of the PNAS survey. She and lead author Miriam Gay-Antaki, a geography doctoral student at UA, had sent the questionnaire to 223 women who had served as IPCC authors from 1990 to 2013.