Breaking down barriers: The identification of actions to promote gender equality in interdisciplinary marine research institutions

Rebecca J. Shellock*, Christopher Cvitanovic, Mary Mackay, Merryn C. McKinnon, Jessica Blythe, Rachel Kelly, Ingrid E. van Putten, Paris Tuohy, Megan Bailey, Alpina Begossi, Beatrice Crona, Kafayat A. Fakoya, Beatrice P. Ferreira, Alice J.G. Ferrer, Katia Frangoudes, Judith Gobin, Hong Ching Goh, Paivi Haapasaari, Britta Denise Hardesty, Vreni HäussermannKelly Hoareau, Anna Katharina Hornidge, Moenieba Isaacs, Marloes Kraan, Yinji Li, Min Liu, Priscila F.M. Lopes, Marina Mlakar, Tiffany H. Morrison, Hazel A. Oxenford, Gretta T. Pecl, Jerneja Penca, Carol Robinson, Samiya Selim, Mette Skern-Mauritzen, Kumi Soejima, Doris Soto, Ana K. Spalding, Alice Vadrot, Natașa Vaidianu, Mona Webber, Mary S. Wisz

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)


Interdisciplinary research is paramount to addressing ocean sustainability challenges in the 21st century. However, women leaders have been underrepresented in interdisciplinary marine research, and there is little guidance on how to achieve the conditions that will lead to an increased proportion of women scientists in positions of leadership. Here, we conduct in-depth qualitative research to explore the main barriers and enablers to women's leadership in an academic interdisciplinary marine research context. We found that interdisciplinarity can present unique and additional barriers to women leaders (e.g., complexity and lack of value attributed to interdisciplinary research) and are exacerbated by existing gender-specific issues that women experience (e.g., isolation and underrepresentation and stereotyping). Together these barriers overlap forming the “glass obstacle course”—which is particularly challenging for women in minoritized groups. Here, we provide a list of concrete, ambitious, and actionable enablers that can promote and support women's leadership in academic interdisciplinary marine research.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)687-708
Number of pages22
JournalOne Earth
Issue number6
Early online date17 Jun 2022
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2022


  • academia
  • diversity
  • equality
  • equity
  • gender
  • interdisciplinarity
  • intersectionality
  • leadership
  • marine science
  • STEM


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