To explore who the volcanology community is today, the only data available comes from membership data collected by international organisations with a focus on volcanology (for data and methods, see Online Resources 1, 2 and 3). We are limited by the categories these organisations use to collect data on gender, and by the lack of data on other demographics and protected characteristics.Footnote 1
The International Association of Volcanology and Chemistry of the Earth’s Interior (IAVCEI) is part of the International Union of Geodesy and Geophysics (IUGG) (Cas 2022). Its organisational structures, volcanology focus and international affiliation make for an interesting comparison to volcanology groups that are regional (Engwell et al. 2020) or only include some aspects of volcanology, such as the American Geophysical Union (AGU) Volcanology, Geochemistry & Petrology (VGP) Section or the European Geosciences Union (EGU) Geochemistry-Mineralogy-Petrology-Volcanology (GMPV) Division.
The IAVCEI 2021 membership data reports only the geographical location of the membership and the gender identity (either male or female must be selected during registration, Fig. 1). In 2021, IAVCEI had 937 members (39% female, 61% male) across 62 countries (See Table 1). The overwhelming majority of countries around the world have more men than women IAVCEI members, and only three countries with > 4 members have close to 50% women (the UK, New Zealand and Mexico). A few countries have more women (e.g. Portugal, Denmark, the Philippines, Taiwan, Singapore, Brazil, Russia and Canada), and some countries have notably high percentages of men (e.g. Japan, South Korea, France, Ecuador and Peru). Across Africa, the Middle East and India IAVCEI members are few, but are all men.
The EGU GMPV report the gender, career stage and geographic location of members from 2016 to 2021. Since 2019, EGU has offered the option for members to select their gender as ‘male’, ‘female’, ‘other’ or ‘prefer not to say’. There were 1365 EGU GMPV members in 2021 across 69 countries (39% female, 59% male and 0% other gender, see Table 1 and Figure S1a in Online Resource 1). In 2021, the top five member countries were Germany, the UK, Italy, France and the USA (Figure S2 in Online Resource 2), and so the bulk statistics are strongly influenced by them. The global distribution and proportion of the EGU GMPV Early Career Scientists (ECS) members has broadly increased from 2016 to 2021 (Figure S3 in Online Resource 2). Members joining from new countries, such as Pakistan, Nigeria, Bulgaria or Georgia, tended to be ECS (Figure S2 in Online Resource 2). During this time, there have been notable increases in the number of ECS members in, for example, Japan, the Netherlands, Ireland, Hungary, Canada, Spain, Portugal, and Italy, but decreases in Belgium and Sweden (Figure S3 in Online Resource 2).
The AGU VGP provided us with the gender identity and geographical region data of its members from 2013 to 2021 and their career stage up to 2020. AGU offers the option for members to select their gender as ‘male’, ‘female’, ‘non-binary’, ‘prefer to self-describe’ or ‘prefer not to say’. Since 2013, these data have remained relatively stable, despite absolute numbers declining over this period (Figure S4 in Online Resource 2). With a total of 2919 members in 2020 (31% female, 67% male and 0.1% non-binary), the AGU VGP includes more individuals than the IAVCEI 2021 or EGU GMPV 2021 datasets (Table 1).
The AGU VGP section has a lower percentage of students and early career researchers (ECR) than the EGU GMPV ECS (42% compared to 59%, Table 1), but these groups have a similar gender balance across the organisations. The AGU VGP student and ECR data and the EGU GMPV ECS data both show that these groups have a higher proportion of women (46% and 44%, respectively) relative to the overall membership, and the AGU data suggests that this has been the case since at least 2014 (Table 1, Figure S5 in Online Resource 2). The senior volcanologists (non-student, non-ECR, non-ECS groups) have a particularly low female (19.7%, 31.2%) and high male (77.4%, 63.7%) proportion relative to the AGU VGP and EGU GMPV bulk statistics. This suggests a loss of women volcanologists with advancing career stage.
There are limitations to these data. Whilst IAVCEI, AGU and EGU are the largest international groups that volcanology members can engage with, not all volcanologists are members. Other volcanology organisations include the Latinamerican Association of Volcanology (Asociación Latinoamericana de Volcanología, ALVO) that was founded in 2010 and aims to strengthen and promote the ties amongst Latin American volcanologist; and several of their members may not be IAVCEI, AGU or EGU members, and so are not represented in these datasets. The inauguration workshop for IAVCEI’s International Network for Volcanology Collaboration (INVOLC), which is working to foster cross-country partnerships and overcome challenges related to access to resources, was attended by many volcanologists from around the world who were not members of IAVCEI (K. Fontijn, pers comm.). National volcanology-specific organisations or subject-specific sub-groups of IAVCEI, such as IAVCEI Commissions, also have their own members, but generally do not collect demographic data—however, collecting and publishing demographic data on their members would be a great resource for the volcanology community, helping groups to identify opportunities to increase diversity and be more inclusive.
The gender identity data currently available from IAVCEI is limited and is in urgent need of updating. Currently, IAVCEI members can only select ‘female’ or ‘male’ during registration, erasing non-binary and genderqueer scientists (Cameron and Stinson 2019). It also does not allow for transgender scientists to identify as such if they wish. Individuals should always have the option to self-identify their gender in any demographics data collection (Strauss et al. 2021). Some volcanology organisations do not see the need for them to collect such data:
"No such data have ever [been] collected, practically as it was never really relevant to anything we’ve done."—an IAVCEI Commission Lead in response to our request for data
However, the lack of data means that any EDI issues may not be known or recognised, and the effectiveness of any actions put in place to improve EDI cannot be assessed. Recently, some volcanology organisations and groups have started to collect membership data during registration to online events to learn about their members, for example prior to an IAVCEI Commission on Volcanic and Igneous Plumbing Systems (VIPS) online seminar in 2021, and for the IAVCEI Commission on the Chemistry of Volcanic Gases (CCVG) workshop in 2021. Other IAVCEI Commission leads we contacted expressed a desire to understand better why such data collection is needed, how this should be done responsibly and how data should be stored. Unfortunately, it is not possible for us to provide a template for this as the appropriate data to collect, and the laws which permit it to be collected, vary depending on geographical context. For example, in France, it is unlawful to collect data on race. However, in the UK Protected Characteristics data can be collected under the Equality Act. Ultimately each organisation should be guided by the requirements from their ‘host country’ (see Online Resource 4 for some suggestions), but we also suggest that the creation of a dedicated EDI role on the IAVCEI Committee would provide the community with a go-to person that organisations and groups in volcanology could contact to discuss ethical and lawful data collection methods and data storage.