Career-Life Balance and How to Make a Successful Career in Marine Mammal Science

Workshop prior to the Society for Marine Mammalogy 2015 Biennial Conference

Date/Time: Sunday, December 13, 2015; 8:30 AM -12:30 PM

Venue: Hilton San Francisco, Union Square

Workshop Summary:

Globally, there is increasing recognition that family and care giving responsibilities are driving women away from STEM fields. However, this issue is not unique to gender, and other minorities or those (of either gender) with additional caring responsibilities can face similar difficulties. In particular, marine mammalogy is a challenging career in this respect because of the fieldwork and travel obligations necessary to excel in the field. This workshop aims to bring awareness to this issue within our community, and examine whether there is more that the Society for Marine Mammalogy could do to retain and maximize talent and diversity across its members.

Before the workshop we conducted a brief on-line survey of Society members. We will present the results of this survey to examine the demographics of the society with respect to gender and family commitments and provide us with information on what society members perceive to be the greatest challenges in maintaining a career-life balance.

Organizers and contact emails:
Samantha Simmons, Marine Mammal Commission, USA (ssimmons 'at'
Sascha Hooker, SMRU, University of St Andrews, UK (sh43 'at'
Gitte McDonald, Moss Landing Marine Lab, California State University, USA (gmcdonald 'at'
Alison Stimpert, Moss Landing Marine Lab, California State University, USA (astimpert 'at'
We are very grateful to the following for their support of this workshop, which enabled us to offset some of the fees involved: The Women in Acoustics Committee of the Acoustical Society of America , Loggerhead Instruments, Teledyne-Reson, Wildlife Computers


The following web-based resources were compiled for the workshop:


Women in STEM: Tools for Change Two factors have stalled women's advancement in science: implicit bias and lack of family friendly policies. Women now represent a large part of the talent pool for research science but many studies show they are more likely than men to “leak” out of the science pipeline before obtaining tenure at a college or university. While women comprised 40% of the earned doctorates in science and engineering in 2006, only 19% of full-time full professors in science and engineering were women. Moreover, among women full professors in science and engineering, only 5% are Asian, just under 5% are African American, and just over 3% are Hispanic/Latina.

Association for Women in Science.

Graduate Women in Science

American Association of University Women

Aurora Leadership, UK Women-only leadership development programme.

L'Oreal-Unesco Women in Science. Awards for postdoctoral women in science.

National Science Foundation Career-Life Balance Initiative:

ADVANCE program, aiming to contribute to a more diverse science and engineering workforce:

European Commission Gender Equality Policy

The Royal Society, UK, Diversity in Science:

Equality Challenge Unit, UK. Advancing equality and diversity in universities and colleges. Separate gender equality charter and race equality charter.

Disability Advisory Committee, supporting the inclusion of disabled people in STEM.

Diversity in Science: where are the data? Global figures on diversity in the science and engineering workforce are hard to come by, but what we know is not flattering. Fred Guterl, Scientific American.

Minorities in Tech. CODE2040 creates access, awareness, and opportunities for top Black and Latino/a engineering talent to ensure their leadership in the innovation economy.


Sexist attitudes: Most of us are biased. Jennifer Raymond. Nature 495, 33-34.

Explaining Gender Differences at the Top, Harvard Business Review. Francesca Gino & Alison Wood Brooks

Negotiation Strategies, Harvard Law School

Why women still can't have it all, by Anne-Marie Slaughter, The Atlantic.


Discrimination and Harrassment in the Field, Julia O'Hern, The Washington Post.

Legislation to prevent harassment on NOAA ships

Survey of Academic Field Experiences (SAFE): Trainees Report Harassment and Assault - PLOS ONE


The Clayman Institute for Gender Research, Stanford

Split positions can provide a sane career track - a personal account. Jane Lubchenko & Bruce Menge, BioScience.


Improving Your Work-Life Balance. Elisabeth Pain, Science Career Magazine. Based on a session at AAAS on work-life balance led by AWIS. Define your situation, Develop a strong support, system, plan and prioritize, learn to say "no", set guilt-free boundaries, recharge your batteries

'Serious Academics' at Play, Anne Curzan, The Chronicle of Higher Education. The importance of time for things that "help you relax and stay healthy."


Case studies of Mothers in Science, Royal Society publication. Some great quotes such as "The concept of work-life balance is rather problematic. The phrase suggests that your work has nothing to do with the rest of your life."

For Female Scientists, There's No Good Time to Have Children, Nicholas H. Wolfinger, The Atlantic.


Lab life with kids. Balancing research with raising children takes scheduling skills and organization. Kendall Powell, Nature 517:401-403.

Raising Kids and Running a Household: How Working Parents Share the Load. Pew Research Centre.

How caring for aging parents affects a career. Rosanna Fay, The Atlantic.