The July 2015 meeting of the Working Group on Ecosystem Monitoring and Management (WG-EMM) in Warsaw, Poland, demonstrated that CCAMLR has come a long way when it comes to broad participation.
As part of an ongoing and increasing trend toward greater diversity, Parties from all continents were represented at the Warsaw meeting, with an increased proportion of the attendees being women. Women represented just over 30 percent of delegates at this year’s EMM meeting, the highest figure to date. More than half of the participating countries sent female delegates, up from only 20 percent of countries in 2010.
Dr Polly Penhale, from the US National Science Foundation, and a long-standing member of CCAMLR Scientific Committee working groups, noted how representation at meetings has evolved over the years. She also pointed out that two of the women in attendance in Warsaw were recipients of the CCAMLR scientific scholarship.
“About 20 years ago, there were very few women in the Scientific Committee and Commission meetings.
“That situation is changing and I believe that scholarships and mentoring programs are critical in ensuring that opportunities continue to arise for young scientists, especially women, in the less traditional fields of science,” said Penhale.
Fifteen of the women participating in the Warsaw meeting gathered at a local pizza restaurant, for the annual ladies’ night, to exchange their perspectives on the meeting and various CCAMLR related issues.
Dr Lucy Robinson, the CCAMLR Secretariat’s Fisheries and Ecosystems Analyst, who was attending WG-EMM for the first time, felt that both formal and infomal aspects of the meeting were of great value.
“It was really interesting to see scientists from all over the world bringing different perspectives to the table.
“The social event gave us the opportunity to share experiences, ask questions and build connections,” said Robinson.
Dr Penhale recalled that the tradition of a ladies’ night started many years ago at the annual meetings in Hobart, Australia. A group of women would get together for dinner, networking and mentoring, followed by a movie at the State Cinema.
“After about a decade or so, there were so many women involved in the Scientific Committee and Commission, with so many other after-session activities and meetings, it became too hard to schedule a place big enough for us all to attend,” she said.
Although recognising that the discontinuation of ladies’ night in Hobart reflects a positive change in gender balance over the years, Dr Penhale is pleased to see the tradition continuing at the smaller working group meetings.