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Challenges and supports for women conservation leaders



Leadership and inclusivity are increasingly recognized as fundamental to conservation success, yet women's leadership within the conservation profession is understudied. This study identifies gender‐related challenges women conservation leaders experienced in their careers, and supports helping them advance. Using an intersectionality framing to identify intersections between gender, race/ethnicity, age, and leadership position, we conducted and analyzed semi‐structured interviews with 56 women leaders in conservation organizations across the United States. All interviewees reported experiencing or witnessing a gender‐related workplace challenge in at least one of six categories, and the vast majority reported encountering four or more of these challenges: salary inequality and difficulty negotiating, formal exclusion, informal exclusion, harassment and inadequate organizational response, assumptions of inadequacy, and assumptions of wrongness. Participants also experienced two categories of supports: structural supports and supportive relationships. Women's experiences varied based on age, race and ethnicity, and leadership position. Our results indicate more effort is needed to identify effective strategies for making conservation a more inclusive, empowering, and appealing profession in which to work.
Challenges and supports for women conservation leaders
Megan S. Jones | Jennifer Solomon
Human Dimensions of Natural Resources
Department, Colorado State University, Fort
Collins, Colorado
Megan S. Jones, Human Dimensions of
Natural Resources, Colorado State
University, 1480 Campus Delivery, Fort
Collins, CO 80523-1480.
Funding information
Colorado State University Libraries Open
Access Research and Scholarship; Human
Dimensions of Natural Resources
Department at Colorado State University
Leadership and inclusivity are increasingly recognized as fundamental to conserva-
tion success, yet women's leadership within the conservation profession is under-
studied. This study identifies gender-related challenges women conservation
leaders experienced in their careers, and supports helping them advance. Using an
intersectionality framing to identify intersections between gender, race/ethnicity,
age, and leadership position, we conducted and analyzed semi-structured inter-
views with 56 women leaders in conservation organizations across the United
States. All interviewees reported experiencing or witnessing a gender-related work-
place challenge in at least one of six categories, and the vast majority reported
encountering four or more of these challenges: salary inequality and difficulty
negotiating, formal exclusion, informal exclusion, harassment and inadequate orga-
nizational response, assumptions of inadequacy, and assumptions of wrongness.
Participants also experienced two categories of supports: structural supports and
supportive relationships. Women's experiences varied based on age, race and eth-
nicity, and leadership position. Our results indicate more effort is needed to identify
effective strategies for making conservation a more inclusive, empowering, and
appealing profession in which to work.
conservation, equity, gender, inclusivity, intersectionality, leadership, organizational management,
semi-structured interviews, women
Inclusive, diverse leadership is increasingly recognized as
fundamental to conservation success. Conservation scientists
and practitioners have argued that the profession will more
effectively protect biodiversity if it includes different gen-
ders, races, ethnicities, and cultures (Tallis & Lubchenco,
2014) and represents a plurality of values and viewpoints
(Matulis & Moyer, 2016). Including local women as
knowledge-holders and decision-makers in community-
based conservation has been linked to improved outcomes
globally in protected area management (Allendorf &
Allendorf, 2012), community forest governance (Agarwal,
2009), fisheries management (Leisher et al., 2015), climate
change mitigation (Larson et al., 2015), and water conserva-
tion (Kevany & Huisingh, 2013). Women have also been
influential leaders of grassroots environmental activism cam-
paigns at local, national, and international scales (Bell &
Braun, 2010). However, women's representation in leader-
ship positions within the conservation profession itself has
been understudied in peer-reviewed literature. This study
aims to address this by extending the research on conserva-
tion leadership to analyze women's experiences of gender-
related challenges and supports.
Received: 14 January 2019 Revised: 8 March 2019 Accepted: 22 March 2019
DOI: 10.1111/csp2.36
This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original
work is properly cited.
© 2019 The Authors. Conservation Science and Practice published by Wiley Periodicals, Inc. on behalf of Society for Conservation Biology
Conservation Science and Practice. 2019;e36. 1of11
Any discussion about leadership and gender must recog-
nize that gender inequalities operate within many socially
constructed systems of privilege that control individuals'
access to power, knowledge, and resources (Johnson, 2006).
Intersectionality theory (Crenshaw, 1991 is a framework to
investigate how intersecting axes of social difference
including gender, race, ethnicity, class, age, sexuality, and
disabilitycombine to shape people's heterogenous experi-
ences (Healy, Bradley, & Forson, 2011). In this study we
employ an intersectional framing to understand how women
conservation leaders' experiences of gender-related chal-
lenges interweave with race and age at different levels within
organizational hierarchies. In so doing we combine literature
on workplace gender inequality with research by feminist
political ecologists such as Sundberg (2004, p. 61), who
calls for studies to examine if and how conservation, con-
servationistsand researchers are implicated in the (re)pro-
duction of unequal social relations in the daily discourses,
practices, and performances of conservation.
A plethora of evidence of gender inequality exists across
U.S. society. Women were historically excluded from many
leadership positions, and gender parity has yet to be reached
at the top of many occupations: women comprise 33% of full
professors, 20% of U.S. Congress people, and 6% of Fortune
500 company chief executive officers (CEOs) (Center for
American Woman and Politics, 2018; Snyder, Brey, &
Dillow, 2018; Zarya, 2017). In conservation, research on a
subsection of U.S.-based organizations suggests women
occupy most junior positions, for example, internships, but
fewer senior positions such as executive directors (Taylor,
2015), and that White women fill more senior leadership
roles than women of color, who also navigate racial inequal-
ities (Taylor, 2014).
It has been extensively demonstrated that gender imbal-
ance at the tops of organizations derives at least partially
from pervasive gender prejudice and discrimination. Gender
discrimination occurs when women receive fewer leader-
ship opportunities than men even with equivalent qualifica-
tions(Eagly & Carli, 2007, p. 67, emphasis in original),
and is rooted in prejudice result[ing] from the mismatch
between the stereotyped attributes that people ascribe to a
group and those they ascribe to a particular social role
(Eagly & Carli, 2007, p. 96). Prejudice against women
leaders thus derives from people's divergent expectations of
leaders and women, and manifests in resistance to women's
leadership. Working women often receive less approval than
men for the same behaviors, and less support, mentorship,
respect, and recognition (McClean, Martin, Emich, & Wood-
ruff, 2017); experience sexually harassment (McLaughlin,
Uggen, & Blackstone, 2012); and struggle to appear both
competent and warm (Eagly, 2007). Gender discrimination
manifests in unequal salary, hiring, and promotion processes
(Moss-Racusin, Dovidio, Brescoll, Graham, & Handelsman,
2012). In this paper we use the term gender-related chal-
lengesto encompass these difficulties.
Various supports have been identified that can
strengthen women's professional leadership. These include
transformed hiring practices, organizational analyses of
diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), trainings, mentoring
programs, role models, championing by senior leaders,
women's groups, and peer support. The utility of different
support structures has been extensively debated, especially
regarding how women's needs vary with inequalities of
race, class, and age (Healy et al., 2011) and the tensions
between organizations' responsibilities to change and
expectations placed on women to navigate unequal systems
by themselves (Van Oosten, Buse, & Bilimoria, 2017).
These types of support structures can be beneficial to all
employees, but are widely recognized as being particularly
necessary for people who are disadvantaged in the work-
place by social, political, and economic systems of privi-
lege such as gender, as well as race/ethnicity, class,
disability, and so on (Shore, Cleveland, & Sanchez, 2018).
Gender equality is considered a human right by the United
Nations, and gender diverse leadership correlates with high
managerial performance (Dezsö & Ross, 2012), increased orga-
nizational profit (Litz & Folker, 2002), and improved employee
well-being (Melero, 2011). Gender diversity has been linked to
effective conservation: an international comparative study of
46 natural resource management groups found women's partici-
pation was associated with significantly more collaboration,
reciprocity, persistence, and conflict resolution (Westermann,
Ashby, & Pretty, 2005). Similarly, a 10-year study of Fortune
500 companies found companies with women CEOs and on
the Board of Directors pursued more environmentally friendly
business strategies than those with fewer women (Glass,
Cook, & Ingersoll, 2015). The central role women play in
protecting biodiversity and preventing climate change at all
decision-making levels has been recognized by international
targets such as the Convention on Biological Diversity
(Alvarez & Lovera, 2016). Given these implications, it is cru-
cial to assess the current situation in the conservation profes-
sion. With that aim, we investigated U.S.-based women
conservation leaders' perceptions of how gender roles have con-
strained their careers, and what supports helped them advance.
2.1 |Data collection
Interview participants were identified using snowball sam-
pling, beginning with a seed group drawn from the authors'
professional networks (Newing, 2011). Participants met five
inclusion criteria: self-identify as a woman, be currently
based in the United States, work for an organization with a
conservation mission, be employed in a leadership role, and
have a natural and/or social science background. Using a
positional definition of leadership (Bruyere, 2015), partici-
pants were considered conservation leaders if they occupied
midlevel to senior leadership positions (e.g., scientist/pro-
gram coordinator through superintendent/executive director).
Through these parameters we sought to understand how
women occupying central and influential roles felt con-
strained or empowered within their organizations.
Reflecting our grounding in intersectionality theory, we
used purposive sampling to solicit greater participation from
women of color, who often encounter distinct challenges
given their positions at multiple intersecting axes of discrim-
ination (Crenshaw, 1991). We also used purposive sampling
to reach participants of diverse ages, located across the U.S.,
working at various leadership levels, and based in different
organizational types. Interviews were conducted until satura-
tion was reached, that is, additional interviews contributed
few novel insights (Newing, 2011).
Potential participants were contacted via email. We
contacted 110 women, 79 of whom responded. Ultimately
63 women were interviewed. Interviews were conducted
in person (19%), over the phone (44%), and via Skype
(37%) from June to September 2016, lasted 4590 min
(averaging 58 min), and were transcribed by the first
author and a research assistant. Participants gave verbal
informed consent and were informed that their interview
would be redacted of personally identifiable information
and that they could withdraw from the study at any time.
Semi-structured interview questions (see Supporting
Information), derived from a literature review, focused on
participants' experiences of gender-related challenges
throughout their conservation careers, and supports to over-
come those challenges. Demographic information was col-
lected on participants' age, education, race/ethnicity, marital
status, children, and location.
2.2 |Data analysis
Interviews were analyzed using grounded theory, a system-
atic methodology for identifying emergent themes and incor-
porating them into theoretical models (Charmaz, 2014). We
first parsed the interviews into concepts (i.e., specific chal-
lenges and supports) using initial coding and then, based on
comparisons across the transcripts, clustered these concepts
into categories using focused coding. Memos were kept
throughout. To mitigate acquiescence bias, participants were
coded as having experienced particular challenges or sup-
ports only when they expounded on their experience
(Newing, 2011). Combining grounded theory driven analy-
sis with a deductively developed interview guide allowed us
to contextualize the data within the wider intersectionality
literature on working women and leadership while allowing
for participants' unique conservation experiences. In our
analysis we focused particularly on connections participants
made between their race/ethnicity, age, leadership level,
organization type, and gendered experiences.
3.1 |Characteristics of the participants
Fifty-six interviews qualified for analysis based on the inclu-
sion criteria.
At the time of the interviews 15 participants
worked for federal agencies, five for state agencies, 31 for
nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), and five for other
conservation organizations. Three participants self-identified
as African American, one as African American-Hispanic,
one as Asian American, four as White-Hispanic, and 47 as
White non-Hispanic (16% of color, 84% White). Participants'
aged ranged from 26 to 64 (median age 44) and were based
in 19 U.S. states.
3.2 |Gender-related challenges in the
conservation workplace
We derived six categories (see Figures 13) of gender-
related challenges that participants had perceived experienc-
ing in the conservation workplace. All participants reported
experiencing or witnessing a gender-related challenge in at
least one category while working in conservation; the vast
majority reported experiencing or witnessing a gender-
related challenge in four or more of the six categories.
3.2.1 |Salary inequality and difficulty
Encompasses women conservation leaders' experiences
being paid less than men and/or struggling to negotiate
effectively (Figure 1). Some participants working at NGOs
lamented that their organization provided no transparency
about salaries, while others at agencies noted mandatory sal-
ary transparency merely allowed them to ascertain they were
being paid less than male colleagues. Some stressed that
even when equity adjustments are made, a legacy of inequal-
ity endures: as Participant 19 wondered, how many years
have I been being underpaid?
3.2.2 |Formal exclusion
Captures women conservation leaders' experiences being
denied opportunities to advance or seeing other women
denied advancement, particularly by being passed over for
promotions (Figure 1). Participants at NGOs, and federal
and state agencies offered recent examples of men in senior
leadership positions promoting more junior men over well-
qualified women. Several participants noted this seemed
most common in senior leadership.
3.2.3 |Informal exclusion
Comprises occasions when women are denied opportunities
to participate in decision-making, such as being excluded
from scientific and leadership tasks (Figure 1). Many
Women do not receive
Men are promoted more
quickly than women
Less competent men are
hired in over more
competent women, rather
than promoting the
Women are not invited to
(or not present in)
decision-making spaces
Women are talked over,
interrupted, or not
invited to talk in
meetings with men
Men restate women’s
ideas and receive
recognition for the idea
that the women do not
Men ask women to do
administrative tasks that
are not part of the
women’s leadership roles
“[He is] being promoted to potentially be the lead of
this topic for which my [female] colleague is much,
much, much, much more qualied. I mean he basically
has no qualications for that role.” (Participant 22)
“To me that is what the old boys’ [club] is, it’s like
these informal side conversations where people are
making huge decisions that are then brought back to
the table without collaborative, collective decision-
making.” (Participant 39)
“I have heard from other women who have had higher
positions than me – you know, Ph.D.'s, well-respected,
very accomplished, that they have had the experience
where in a meeting, men talk over them a lot, interrupt
them a lot, take credit for their ideas.” (Participant 47)
“When I rst started the last job there was a lot of
ganging up against the few female employees that
there were, a lot of them didn’t last. A lot of ‘you can
make my coffee, you can make my photocopies’ and it
was like, ‘I’m actually the biologist here’ [laughs].”
(Participant 57)
“I also just don't think women get moved up as quickly.
Even if they’re doing the same level of work […] Men,
I feel like, would get the bump [up] before they took on
more responsibility.” (Participant 10)
Inequality &
Organizations fail to
assess or address
gendered salary
“So you can go online and look up people's salaries
[…] I was the lowest paid person in my job class in my
last job, and I’m the one of the lowest paid people in
my job now.” (Participant 57)
Women are paid less
than male colleagues at
the same level
“Literally, her [the HR representative’s] mouth
dropped open and she was like, ‘I cannot believe you
are making so little, why are you at this level?’ and I
was like ‘I do not know!’ There is no transparency in
how salaries are set.” (Participant 20)
Women feel unequipped
to negotiate
“I also didn't even enter this job knowing things like
negotiating my salary, or that I could.” (Participant 5)
“They sent a very loud message of, ‘no we don't really
want you up here.’ Even though I was obviously leaps
and bounds the most qualied to do that job. And that
hurt.” (Participant 54)
FIGURE 1 Gender-related challenges experienced by women conservation leaders: Salary inequality, formal exclusion, and informal
participants stressed that this occurred across positional
and generational power imbalances, with more senior men
excluding more junior women and/or older men excluding
younger women, while others noted that informal exclu-
sion still occurs despite them having attained senior lead-
ership positions. Participants of color noted informal
exclusion that White participants did not, with all but one
describing a sense of isolation being the only, or one of
the only, people of their race/ethnicity at their organiza-
tion and in most conservation spaces. Many reported that
colleagues tended to exacerbate this through direct com-
ments (positive or negative) and requests that they take on
additional DEI work. Participant 39 explained that White
women might struggle to sit at the conservation table, but
for women of colorwe haven't even stepped into the
3.2.4 |Harassment and inadequate
organizational response
Encapsulates women conservation leaders' accounts of being
harassed and/or sexually harassed at work, and organizations
tacitly tolerating this (Figure 2). Many participants empha-
sized that this occurred across asymmetries in formal and
age-related authority, through which older men in senior
leadership roles harass younger, more junior women. Some
participants in their 40s and 50s reported that although they
were no longer objects of harassment, they were still
& Inadequate
Women experience
verbal or physically
threatening behavior
from male supervisors
and colleagues
Women do not report
incidents because of a
fear of retaliation or a
belief that reporting will
not lead to change
If organizations do take
formal action, women
believe it is not sufcient
Women who do report
harassment experience
retaliation from
colleagues or supervisors
Organizations do not
take action when an
incident is reported
Women experience
sexual harassment, i.e.
unwelcome sexual talk or
behavior from male
supervisors and
Harassment policies and
reporting mechanisms are
only put into place after
an organizational
harassment scandal
“There were some harassment issues, of a male
harassing a female, at [location redacted]. And the
person in charge, the supervisor, was a male, and then
the next supervisor was a male, and so the issue never
got taken care of.” (Participant 17)
“It was denitely not like a ‘good for her for standing
up for herself.’ It was more of like a, ‘wow, what a
troublemaker, couldn’t she have handled that
herself’.” (Participant 37)
“It’s certainly something that has come up for younger
[female] colleagues of mine who are potentially in
direct supervision relationships with older males who
– and it’s more of an inappropriate language, and
maybe the supervising individual doesn’t even realize
that they’re making someone feel very uncomfortable.”
(Participant 7)
“I’ve thought about reporting it and then I was like,
why? He won’t be held accountable for change. It
would be on me, and it would be something like, ‘you
need to take that less personally’.” (Participant 9)
“And how it’s been handled – well it appears that
there may have been a settlement here or there […]
but is it really solved? I doubt it, because I think that
individual is still around.” (Participant 32)
“[We] had a really huge sexual harassment scandal
this past winter and spring and so since then, they have
totally overhauled their policies.” (Participant 61)
“There was a man who was purported to punch a hole
in the drywall next to a woman’s head and he didn’t
get red. I’m not even sure he got reprimanded.”
(Participant 43)
FIGURE 2 Gender-related challenges experienced by women conservation leaders: Harassment and inadequate organizational response
“They’ll still be surprised like, ‘oh, you got that job?!
Really!’ You’ll be like, ‘yeah, I did, why are you
surprised? [...] you’re surprised because I’m a
woman,’ and it – it’s just insidious, it just is. But then
you keep being battered by it along the way [...] the
impact of that is like, ‘woah, maybe I shouldn’t have
gotten that job’.” (Participant 45)
Assumption of
Assumption of
Men disbelieve or are
surprised at women’s
Men assume that women
cannot be the authority
gure in a given situation
Male employees or
colleagues challenge
women’s right to be in a
leadership position
Women feel they have to
work harder than men
Women strive not to fail,
because they perceive
every mistake counts
against them
Women who claim
authority by being
assertive are perceived
negatively and critiqued
by their colleagues and
Women who do not
behave assertively are
told to be more assertive
Women are seen as being
the wrong age: too old,
young, or middle-aged
Women are perceived as
being too overtly
feminine to do their job
“I denitely encountered a lot of people that either
outright told me that I shouldn’t be where I was or that
they didn’t believe that I could do the work, or it was
pretty obvious that that was the case, and you had to
make sure that people saw that you were competent.”
(Participant 55)
“She was brilliant and incredibly assertive – everyone
hated her. Other people that were brilliant and
incredibly assertive that weren’t women, didn’t have
that level of, you know, negativity surrounding them.”
(Participant 37)
“The number of times I’ve been told by my
predecessors or the kind of community here in
[location redacted] that I’m not erce enough or I’m
not loud enough or I’m not assertive enough or I’m not
aggressive enough...” (Participant 45)
“I would never wear high heels to a conservation
conference [...] it’s a judgment of, you know, that’s –
that means that you’re not serious about this work and
you’re not ready to get out in the eld and you know,
do what needs to be done.” (Participant 7)
“I go into a lot of situations knowing, ‘Okay, I’m going
to be with all men, and I have to be on my game’
because they are going to look at you as less than
equal, that’s a given.” (Participant 33)
“He was like, ‘are you sure you’re old enough to be
here?’ [laughs]” (Participant 27)
“Especially in the eld sciences, being out in the eld
[…] I have been in situations where men assumed that
the women scientists wouldn’t be able to do as much as
the men scientists, or that they shouldn’t be in charge
of certain tasks.” (Participant 18)
“Most women that I know who are very high-level
conservation professionals are super organized, super
dedicated, go above and beyond – you know, and some
of the men who are in leadership positions, they can’t
even like keep a calendar straight.” (Participant 34)
FIGURE 3 Gender-related challenges experienced by women conservation leaders: Assumption of inadequacy and assumption of wrongness
sometimes expected to listen to male colleagues' sexual
comments about other women. Several mentioned that sex-
ual harassment was more egregious when doing fieldwork.
3.2.5 |Assumption of inadequacy
Encompasses an underlying impression, suggested by men's
(and occasionally other women's) statements and actions, that
they believe women are incapable of doing conservation sci-
ence and/or being conservation leaders (Figure 3). Race and
ethnicity intersect with gender here: two participants of color
reported comments from others demonstrating their assump-
tion that women of color are not (and cannot be) conservation
leaders. Participant 61 explained: most of the time people
just don't think that I'm a scientist.Many participants
reported experiencing this assumption predominantly when
they were younger and less senior, while others experienced it
throughout their career. Several observed how men assume
women lack fieldwork skills, such as changing truck tires,
driving boats, or identifying birds (Participants 8, 56, 11).
3.2.6 |Assumption of wrongness
Encompasses an underlying impression, suggested by men's
(and occasionally other women's) statements and actions,
that they believe women are unfit for conservation leader-
ship (Figure 3). Many participants underscored the tension
in conservation science between femininity and fieldwork.
To appear feminine is to undermine one's credibility as a
field scientist, and downplaying one's femininity feels partic-
ularly important for younger women, whose credibility may
already feel jeopardized by gender and age. Two participants
of color stressed the difficulty of disentangling multiple
marginalities of race/ethnicity and gender when others
assume they are too young to lead. Several participants in
their 40s and 50s also noted they are discountedfor being
older (Participant 45). Finally, many participants highlighted
that women of all ages and leadership levels struggle to be
both assertive and well-liked.
3.3 |Supports mitigating gender-related
challenges in the conservation workplace
We derived two categories comprising the professional sup-
ports that participants described as most meaningful for
overcoming obstacles and advancing in their careers
(Figure 4).
3.3.1 |Structural supports
Encompasses formal opportunities offered by conservation
organizations, societies, and fellowships, and structural
changes adopted by conservation organizations. Formal
opportunities include mentoring programs, coaching, and
trainings in DEI, leadership, and resilience. Structural
changes entail efforts by organizations to improve the work-
place for women, including assessing diversity, improving
harassment policies, and evaluating salaries. Several partici-
pants who stressed the benefits of organizational trainings
were based at federal agencies, while one worked at a big
international NGO (BINGO). Others at BINGOs lamented
the lack of funding for leadership development. A few par-
ticipants suggested that formal opportunities became more
accessible as they advanced in rank, but are not always visi-
ble: the resources are there if you ask. Do you know that
you can ask? Like, I didn't know!(Participant 10).
3.3.2 |Supportive relationships
Includes relationships with leaders (advisors, supervisors,
upper management, and mentors) and peers (colleagues
across organizations). Most participants stressed five catego-
ries of important behaviors that leaders of all genders could
adopt: provide opportunities, learn women's individual
needs, give feedback and guidance, connect women to their
networks and champion their work, and demonstrate confi-
dence in women, thus building women's own self-
confidence (see Figure 4 for illustrative quotes). Women
leaders specifically were described as providing additional
support by being role models: Seeing women who are com-
petent and in leadership positions is really important too.
You can make your own way, but it's definitely harder if
you don't see where you can get(Participant 68). Partici-
pants of color emphasized that role models and mentors of
their own race/ethnicity are particularly helpfulbut often
difficult to find. Participants also described support from
peers who share experiences of workplace challenges, and
men who demonstrate their belief in gender equality. Both
leaders and peers provide support by being trustworthy peo-
ple with whom participants could have honest conversations.
Although participants mentioned that some younger male
colleagues seem more egalitarian than older men, many
underscored that they believe inclusive leadership by older
people is essential because of these leaders' greater posi-
tional power within organizations.
The six categories of gender-related challenges emerging
from our analysis suggest women conservation leaders navi-
gate various forms of gender inequality in the conservation
workplace. In our sample gender biases spanned many
arenasincluding organizational structures, supervisor-
supervisee relationships, and interactions with colleagues
and were experienced by women of various ages, working in
diverse organizations, and from junior leadership to execu-
tive roles. Women of color reported struggling with race-
related informal exclusion and assumptions of inadequacy.
Young women encountered more sexual harassment than
older women, particularly from older and more senior men,
assumptions of inadequacy, and perceptions that femininity
is incompatible with field science competence. More senior
women reported obstacles to formal promotion. These
results corroborate research on women's workplace
“What’s been really helpful is participating in some
leadership trainings, some really good ones, and then I
think that taught me the skill to seek a mentor, to seek
mentors or to seek assistance where I probably
wouldn’t have done it.” (Participant 53)
Formal opportunities for
women to gain skills
Structural changes to
make organizations more
gender equitable
Provide opportunities
Learn women’s
individual needs
Give feedback and
Connect women to their
networks and champion
their work
“The [male boss] was a wonderful mentor to me and
really gave me opportunities to grow and to learn and
took me into his condence and made me sort of his
right hand person, and I just grew leaps and bounds in
that experience just because he believed in me and just
gave me opportunities.” (Participant 40)
“So it’s not just about having the right mentors to
interact with, and role models, but also people who
you’re responsible to who have the capacity, for
everybody they supervise, to kind of understand them
as an individual and gure out how to equip them to
be successful.” (Participant 13)
“What is most helpful for me is having someone who
can work with me pretty regularly, so either a direct
boss that’s a woman that is really focused on my
advancement, or a close colleague, because they can
catch the sort of day to day things or decisions that we
make, that we could be making in a better way to
promote ourselves or advance our positions.”
(Participant 42)
“Just people believing in me. People that made me feel
like I could do it, or assumed that I could do it. I think
that made a big difference for me, just sort of have that
and these other things are just kind of smaller little
bumps then, and don’t become big barriers for you.”
(Participant 59)
“Having the sexual harassment support system, having
that in place […] then you can be a fully condent,
competent woman in your job, and you don't have to
worry about will I lose my job, […] being so careful.”
(Participant 68)
Demonstrate condence
in women, thus building
women’s self-condence
Leaders who:
“I watch her in action, and she’d always promote me
and make sure I had exposure and experience and
opportunity and always introducing me, just very
cognizant. She was a great role model on how to be a
good mentor. She still is.” (Participant 62)
FIGURE 4 Supports experienced by women conservation leaders: Structural and relational
leadership experiences in STEM and other professions in the
United States, and are indicative of widespread sociocultural
constructions of gender roles whereby women are often per-
ceived as unfit for or incompatible with leadership, and
treated accordingly (Eagly & Carli, 2007; Purcell, Mac-
Arthur, & Samblanet, 2010).
Questions remain about whether and how these patterns
are changing. Many older White participants reported
experiencing fewer gender-related challenges as they gained
age, experience, and seniority, but complex interactions
between these factors preclude easy explanations of causal-
ity. Some participants of color emphasized that efforts to
increase gender equality in conservation do not automati-
cally transition to racial equality unless race is specifically
considered, an observation reinforced by previous research
(Bowser, Roberts, Simmon, & Perales, 2012). Participants
also described many supports helping them advance that
may transform conservation workplaces. Some support
structures are issue-specific, such as organizational investi-
gations into salary inequity and sexual harassment. Others,
such as leadership and DEI trainings, are more comprehen-
sive efforts to change institutional culture and empower indi-
viduals. Supportive relationships with peers and leaders, but
particularly those in senior positions, were seen as critical
for increasing women's access to opportunities, building
women's skills and confidence, normalizing women's repre-
sentation in senior leadership, and creating inclusive conser-
vation workspaces. These supports may also be useful to all
people, regardless of gender. However, these findings reflect
the wider literature, where mentorship and inclusivity specif-
ically have been shown to benefit women leaders to help
address gender imbalances such as men's tendency to have
greater self-confidence than women, and men's dispropor-
tionate access to benefits from homophilous (i.e., based on
shared characteristics) social networks with more senior
male leaders (Purcell et al., 2010; Schipani, Dworkin,
Kwolek-Folland, & Maurer, 2009).
Questions remain about whether and how workplace gen-
der inequality undermines conservation's ability to achieve
its goals of biodiversity protection and ecological steward-
ship (Matulis & Moyer, 2016; Tallis & Lubchenco, 2014).
The challenges identified here may limit women conserva-
tionists' leadership directly, if they are promoted less fre-
quently than men, or indirectly, if they are perceived as less
competent or less fitted for leadership. They may also erode
women's confidence or lead them to perceive workplaces to
be unfair, unwelcoming, or unsafe. For instance, a Depart-
ment of the Interior study suggests many employees who
experience workplace harassment report that it damages their
working relationships, undermines their well-being, impairs
their work, and prompts them to attempt to leave their job
(CFI Group, 2017). Research suggests sexual harassment is
also common in scientific fieldwork (Clancy, Nelson, Ruth-
erford, & Hinde, 2014), and women scientists are more
likely to quit than women in other professions (Glass,
Sassler, Levitte, & Michelmore, 2013). Gender inequality at
all levels can thus be deleterious to organizational success.
In this study we used intersectionality theory to explore
women conservation leaders' perceptions of how gender
identity has affected their careers in interaction with the
unique circumstances that different individuals navigate
(Healy et al., 2011). Findings suggest that further research
could productively apply this framing to disentangle the
complexities of doing conservation work globally. For
instance, this could include investigation of how perceptions
about women's conservation leadership challenges and sup-
ports vary across cultures (Straka, Bal, Corrigan, Di
Fonzo, & Butt, 2018) or within specific organizations
(e.g., Belmaker, 2018), as well as exploration of how women
may themselves uphold or dismantle systems of privilege in
conservation. More comprehensive investigation is also needed
into the perceptions and experiences of women of color in con-
servation leadership, particularly the differences and similarities
amongst their experiences, as well as those of other marginal-
ized groups such as those whose experiences are shaped by
social class, sexuality, or gender identity (Bowser et al., 2012;
Taylor, 2016). Finally, research is needed to understand how
men in conservation perceive and take action about issues of
gender, intersectionality, and difference, and to identify actions
conservation institutions are undertaking to become more inclu-
sive and just (Bennett, 2018).
Conservation is avowedly a crisis discipline, in which
human, technical, and financial capital is widely recognized
as insufficient to overcome the environmental challenges we
face (Bottrill et al., 2008). It is therefore counterproductive if
people working in this field are being subtly and systemati-
cally excluded, intentionally or otherwise. More effort is
needed to identify effective strategies for making conserva-
tion a more inclusive, empowering, and appealing profession
in which to work.
This work was supported by the Human Dimensions of Nat-
ural Resources Department at Colorado State University and
the Colorado State University Libraries Open Access
Research and Scholarship fund. The study was conducted
under CSU IRB Protocol 16-6599H. We thank our study
participants for giving their time and sharing their
The authors have no conflicts of interest to declare.
J.S. conceived the idea. M.S.J. and J.S. designed the study.
M.S.J. collected the data. M.S.J. analyzed the data with sup-
port from J.S. M.S.J. led the writing of the manuscript with
support from J.S. Both authors approved the final manu-
script for publication.
Due to possible sensitivity of human subjects' data, inter-
view files and transcriptions are only accessible to the
The study was conducted under CSU IRB Protocol
16-6599H. Participants gave verbal informed consent for
their interview to be audio-recorded, transcribed, and dis-
seminated with personally identifiable information redacted.
Although it was not the focus of this study, it is worth noting that
people of all genders can be negatively affected by narratives of mas-
culinity and femininity in the workplace, such as in organizational
cultures where men feel they must provetheir manhood or when
men are victims of workplace sexual harassment (e.g., Berdahl, Coo-
per, Glick, Livingston, & Williams, 2018).
Seven of the 63 interviews conducted did not meet the inclusion
criteria and thus were excluded from analysis for the following rea-
sons: interviewee was based outside the United States at time of inter-
view (n= 2), was primarily based at an academic institution (n= 1),
did not have a science background (n= 1) or leadership role (n= 2),
or interview audio-recording quality was too poor for analy-
sis (n= 1).
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Additional supporting information may be found online in
the Supporting Information section at the end of this article.
How to cite this article: Jones MS, Solomon J.
Challenges and supports for women conservation
leaders. Conservation Science and Practice. 2019;
... There are limited published data outlining how conservation organizations consider gender within their own institutions (Jones and Solomon, 2019), and a tendency across the conservation sector to view gender inequity as an issue only for locally based community conservation, primarily in low-income and emerging economies, rather than an issue conservation organizations themselves need to address (Westberg and Powell, 2015;James et al., 2021). Despite this, evidence shows women are under-represented and/or excluded from decision making within organizations focused on conservation, climate, and natural resource management, as well as in research and policy-setting contexts (Jones and Solomon, 2019). ...
... There are limited published data outlining how conservation organizations consider gender within their own institutions (Jones and Solomon, 2019), and a tendency across the conservation sector to view gender inequity as an issue only for locally based community conservation, primarily in low-income and emerging economies, rather than an issue conservation organizations themselves need to address (Westberg and Powell, 2015;James et al., 2021). Despite this, evidence shows women are under-represented and/or excluded from decision making within organizations focused on conservation, climate, and natural resource management, as well as in research and policy-setting contexts (Jones and Solomon, 2019). ...
... Other research also demonstrates that traditional gender roles are commonly reflected within conservation organizations (Mahour, 2016). For example, women often occupy administrative roles (with a focus on so-called "soft skills"), while men are over-represented in positions of leadership, risk-taking, or those that involve travel and fieldwork (Westberg and Powell, 2015;Jones and Solomon, 2019). This often leaves women with lower status, lower paid roles, and leads to them being sidelined as scientific experts and/or decision-makers (CohenMiller et al., 2020;Westberg and Powell, 2015). ...
Full-text available
The planet is facing climate and biodiversity loss crises that impact all of humanity and yet globally, women remain underrepresented in leading solutions to these urgent conservation challenges. As one of the world’s largest conservation non-profit organizations, The Nature Conservancy (TNC) provided a large case-study for understanding inequity for women in the conservation sector. In 2018, all 1,789 conservation and science staff at TNC were surveyed to understand how they are able to develop their careers and contribute to conservation research and decision making. Of the 904 responses (490 men and 414 women), results show that men influence conservation and science decisions more than women; women face multiple barriers across their conservation careers due to gender bias; women experience sexual harassment and discrimination, as well as fear retaliation more than men; and men reported the sector as a more equitable and favorable place for women than women themselves experienced. Our data demonstrates that gender equality (equal representation of men and women) does not automatically mean that women no longer face systemic inequity and that intersectional issues such as race, location and caring responsibilities can all make it even more difficult for women to excel. Respondents drew from experiences across their conservation careers, to suggest how the conservation sector could address these issues. Based on our findings, we recommend practical ways the conservation sector can improve gender equity, including via workplace and cultural change measures, as well as changes to recruitment, pay transparency, and career development policies.
... Here, we define women as individuals who internally identify as female regardless of external appearance, and/or have faced similar cultural or societal expectations and challenges associated with being female (APA, 2022). Women usually face challenges throughout their careers related to sexist prejudices, harassment, assumptions of inadequacy, and toxic power dynamics, which can result in a great degree of mental and/or emotional distress and demotivate them from staying in STEM (Jones and Solomon, 2019;Baker, 2020;James, 2020;Thornton et al., 2020). A recent study on mental health among conservationists showed that women are one of the groups with the highest risk of psychological distress (Pienkowski et al., 2022). ...
... Understanding where these issues of gender and colonialism intersect in Southeast Asia is important to developing effective strategies for increasing women in leadership roles. For example, racism and ageism are discussed at length as major forms of discrimination in the US (Jones and Solomon, 2019), whereas religion and local culture intersect more with gender issues in Indonesia. When the patriarchal nature of many Southeast Asian societal structures (Nilan and Demartoto, 2012) is combined with the lack of safe and/or inclusive spaces, women can be discouraged or demotivated from pursuing a career in conservation. ...
... Many of these societal and systemic inequity issues are likely better understood by a woman mentor who has experienced similar challenges, making a woman-to-woman mentorship an important relationship to nurture. Woman-to-woman mentorship can be an enabling factor to greater empowerment, career advancement, and independence and provide support to the mentee to better navigate the challenges embedded in existing social systems (Jones and Solomon, 2019;Larasatie et al., 2020;Thornton et al., 2020;Nocco et al., 2021). Yet, mentorship as an action and how it can support the next generation of conservationists has not been discussed thoroughly and leaves a great deal of untapped potential for how we can improve capacity building efforts for conservation. ...
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Growing evidence indicates that women’s involvement and leadership are important to creating inclusive conservation programs, increasing likelihood of success, and achieving sustainability. Effective future women leaders can be created by providing them with dedicated mentorship, as in long-term support and dynamic learning that encompass the entirety of a person, not only their technical training. Mentorship by women is key to ensuring more women are empowered, can advance their careers, and become independent leaders in their domains. The ways mentorship contribute to a woman’s career have been frequently studied in medicine, sports, and education, yet rarely in conservation. Providing real examples of long-term mentorships centered on the perspective of a mentee from the Global South will demonstrate an applicable roadmap towards recruiting and retaining women in conservation. We recount two sets of ten-year long mentor-mentee relationships—one with a foreign mentor and the other domestic—based on our personal experiences in Indonesia. We examined issues raised by Indonesian women in conservation and provided targeted solutions that may be applicable to a broader audience. The resulting group of empowered, capable women can rely on one another for technical and moral support, along with work together to shift social norms towards becoming more inclusive of women in more varied roles and at multiple career levels in conservation. In highlighting real examples, mentees can understand what they should seek out and expect from mentorship, and how women from the Global North and Global South can provide true mentorship to more women without access to the same opportunities. We hope to inspire more women from the Global South to continue their careers and be leaders in conservation.
... There are various barriers and bias that contributes to promoting unequal opportunities and therefore women's contribution to scientific research (Davies et al., 2021). Barriers include 1) leave and pay inequity, 2) women's heavier care, domestic and office workloads, 3) conscious and unconscious bias which include discrimination and harassment and 4) lack of recognition (e.g. less funding or under cited in peer-review literature) (Elder and Schmidt, 2004;Sardelis and Drew, 2016;Jones and Solomon, 2019;Jones et al., 2020;Giakoumi et al., 2021). The lack of promotion and the gender pay gap are the leading reasons why most women leave the STEM industry (Hunt, 2016). ...
... Our results showed that women's credibility is still a main challenge. A number of studies have also highlighted that women struggle to be taken as seriously as men or given the same respect that men receive in the work environment (Holleran et al., 2011;Sardelis and Drew, 2016;Jones and Solomon, 2019). This makes it easier for women to lose their credibility or have their ideas dismissed. ...
... Although many of the higher-level conservation positions are dominated by men who often do not see or acknowledge women's challenges in conservation or other STEM based fields (Blickenstaff, 2005;Jones and Solomon, 2019), our results showed that women perceived no influential difference in how men or women run conservation programs. One survey participant did say that organizations should be more concerned about saving a species rather than what gender was in management positions, suggesting no reason why high-level conservation positions should be dominated by men. ...
Full-text available
Women make up a small percentage of the scientific community, including conservation. Today, conservation efforts are vital for the survival of many species, however there is a gender bias within the conservation field. Encouraging more women into conservation could be a key to increasing efficiency and success in conservation goals of organizations and governments. Here we investigate the long running Earthwatch, working guest and intern volunteer programs of the Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF) to understand women’s involvement with volunteer based conservation, and questionnaire data to understand women’s contribution to conservation after volunteering and what challenges women face in conservation. Our results showed there was significantly more female volunteers than male volunteers (p-value <0.000) and on average, females contributed to 73.7% of the volunteer population annually. Volunteer’s age at time of volunteering varied between the three volunteer programs. Women’s motivations for volunteering and challenges that women face in conservation was dependent on the volunteers’ age. CCF’s holistic approach to conservation, volunteers’ love for cheetahs and ability to gain practical skills were the leading motivations why women volunteered with CCF. Many (87%) of the female interns said volunteering was a means of helping them gain employment. Women’s credibility, family responsibility and personal safety were the main challenges that women face working in conservation today. Addressing gender disparities in every stage of career progression will lead to overall improved conservation outcomes.
... However, leadership is not only about the absence or the presence of a set of skills. Leadership is also influenced by gender, since women and men may demonstrate different behaviours and display different abilities when facing contrasting work conditions and opportunities, and this can impact organisational outcomes (Jones & Solomon, 2019). For example, Tenouri (2020) points out multiple differences between men and women related to decision making, with the latter relying more on evidence-based information. ...
... Effectiveness can be defined by various tools to "measure the adequacy of an organisation's purposes and the extent to which those objectives are attained" (Aborass, 2021), so research has tended to focus more on understanding organisational aspects which contribute to conservation effectiveness. Considering the important role played by conservation leaders, a better understanding of the links between leadership and gender also has the potential to help us to improve organisational outcomes, and consequently, global biodiversity practices and achievements (Black, 2019;Jones & Solomon, 2019). However, there remains a lack of study on leadership, and specifically the relationships between leadership and gender and minorities, in the conservation sector (Jones & Solomon, 2019;Tallis & Lubchenco, 2014;Bowser et al., 2012). ...
... Considering the important role played by conservation leaders, a better understanding of the links between leadership and gender also has the potential to help us to improve organisational outcomes, and consequently, global biodiversity practices and achievements (Black, 2019;Jones & Solomon, 2019). However, there remains a lack of study on leadership, and specifically the relationships between leadership and gender and minorities, in the conservation sector (Jones & Solomon, 2019;Tallis & Lubchenco, 2014;Bowser et al., 2012). ...
Full-text available
Effective leadership has been advocated as important in guiding successful conservation programmes to achieve more impactful biodiversity results. Conservation work demands diverse capabilities, so organisations must be aware of what influences leadership effectiveness, including the influence of gender. The Conservation Excellence Model (CEM) allows assessment of conservation project effectiveness, including leadership aspects. The objectives of this study are to: 1) evaluate a mammal species conservation programme in Brazil, a region of critical importance to biodiversity, 2) benchmark with other conservation programmes to identify effective practices, and 3) conduct an in-depth evaluation of leadership skills to explore gender-related aspects of leadership. This study emphasises that good conservation organisational practices are related to Monitoring and Evaluation (within Strategic planning and Theories of Change) and the engagement of the local community. Both male and female leaders displayed common leadership characteristics such as the ability to build partnerships, establish the programme’s purpose and vision, and delegate tasks. Both females and males were considered committed leaders, although only men were described as “role models”. Other differences included how women were characterised as “hands-on managers” and men as “giving training opportunities”. Leadership roles appear male-dominated, representing challenges for women to achieve higher positions. Women notably face a lack of mentorship, lengthy work hours, exclusion from decision-making, and sexual harassment. Nevertheless, a more diverse leadership community which includes women will be critical for promoting future organisational effectiveness and positive biodiversity outcomes.
... In other cases, conservationists can face hard choices when trading-off objectives 23 , which could be compounded by ideological con icts with peers (e.g., 24 ). These challenges are not equally experienced within the sector and can vary by job role, geography, race and ethnicity, sexual orientation, religion, gender, and other identities and social relations [25][26][27] . For example, several recent studies examine workplace stressors -such as isolation from family, poor health and safety, and inadequate compensation -experienced by conservation rangers 22,28−32 . ...
... Respondents had a mean Kessler-10 score of 20.9 (standard deviation (SD) = 7.0) and median score of 20.0 (inter-quartile range = 9.0, see SI 3 for the distribution of scores). Among the respondents, 14.8% had scores suggesting moderate distress (25)(26)(27)(28)(29), and a further 13.0% had scores indicating severe distress (> 30). Personal characteristics and workplace conditions associated with psychological distress Two structural equation models were implemented with 2306 observations ( ve respondents with nonbinary gender identities were excluded from the sample for reasons described in the methods). ...
... Similarly, resident communities and Indigenous groups play crucial roles in conserving nature, but our study does not explicitly explore their experiences. Future research could explore these dimensions, potentially using in-depth qualitative methods to provide nuanced insights (e.g., 27 ). ...
Full-text available
Biodiversity conservation work can be challenging but rewarding, with potential consequences for conservationists’ mental health. Yet, little is known about patterns of mental health among conservationists and its associated protective and risk factors. A better understanding may help improve working conditions, supporting conservationists’ job satisfaction, productivity, and engagement, while reducing costs from staff turnover, absenteeism, and presenteeism. We surveyed 2311 conservation professionals working across 122 countries, asking about experiences of psychological distress, personal characteristics, and workplace conditions. Over half were from and worked in Europe and North America, and most had university-level education, were in desk-based academic and practitioner roles, and responded in English. Moderate or severe distress was reported by 27.8% (Kessler Psychological Distress Scale scores over 24). Respondents with low dispositional and conservation-specific optimism, poor physical health, limited social support, women, and early-career professionals were most at risk in our sample. Heavy workload, job demands, and organisational instability were linked to higher distress, but job stability and satisfaction with one’s contributions to conservation were associated with lower distress. We suggest ways employers and others might ‘promote the positives’ and manage the risks of working in the sector, potentially supporting conservationists’ mental health and abilities to protect nature.
... We are aware that our data reflect a significant gender bias in the leading positions of Protected Landscape Areas Administrations (except 1 woman, all our respondents were men). However, we were not able to influence structural gender inequality (Jones and Solomon, 2019) due to the nature of the purposive sampling process aiming at heads of the Protected Landscape Areas Administrations. Lastly, we would like to stress that the views of our respondents represent particular perspectives (of protected area managers) and not a general view or a view of different stakeholders. ...
... (2) Ensure there are early and equitable career development opportunities for women ECRs r Offer women ECRs early opportunities to manage and lead research, beyond that of their degree. r Superiors to provide opportunities for women ECRs to expand their external collaborative networks and assist them in taking up opportunities for skill development and leadership Jones and Solomon, 2019;de Winde et al., 2021). r Provide more compensated opportunities and resources for women ECRs to facilitate equitable access to publishing (Llorens et al., 2021;Maas et al., 2021;Mori, 2021;Schipper et al., 2021). ...
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Diverse and inclusive marine research is paramount to addressing ocean sustainability challenges in the 21st century, as envisioned by the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development. Despite increasing efforts to diversify ocean science, women continue to face barriers at various stages of their career, which inhibits their progression to leadership within academic institutions. In this perspective, we draw on the collective experiences of thirty-four global women leaders, bolstered by a narrative review, to identify practical strategies and actions that will help empower early career women researchers to become the leaders of tomorrow. We propose five strategies: (i) create a more inclusive culture, (ii) ensure early and equitable career development opportunities for women ECRs, (iii) ensure equitable access to funding for women ECRs, (iv) offer mentoring opportunities and, (v) create flexible, family-friendly environments. Transformational, meaningful, and lasting change will only be achieved through commitment and collaborative action across various scales and by multiple stakeholders.
... Biodiversity conservation and management increasingly considers gender equity as integral to inclusive decision-making (Tallis & Lubchenco, 2014;Matulis & Moyer, 2017;Lau, 2020). Even though women play influential roles in conservation, environmental activism, and leadership at local, national, and international scales (Bell and Braun, 2010), gender inequality in conservation remains pervasive (Jones and Solomon, 2019;James et al., 2021). This is a serious problem because gender inequality hinders the achievement of biodiversity protection and ecological stewardship (Tallis & Lubchenco, 2014;Matulis & Moyer, 2017). ...
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Human-bat interactions are becoming more frequent with growing proximity between people and wildlife. As such, it is important to understand the perspectives of human stakeholders in these interactions, especially considering how media coverage of bats’ potential roles as the reservoirs of the ancestral virus to SARS-Cov2 has exacerbated negative perceptions of bats. We used Q-methodology to describe diverse viewpoints on bat conservation and management and identify areas of consensus among stakeholders in Singapore. We derived perspectives, problems, and priorities for bat conservation and management based on qualitative and quantitative analyses. The results reveal three distinct discourses. The ecocentric viewpoint advocates conserving bats for their intrinsic value. The anthropocentric viewpoint outright rejects the idea of conserving bats because of the perceived public-health threat that bats pose. The third discourse prioritizes educating citizens and enhancing general appreciation for biodiversity. All stakeholders agree on the need to reconsider COVID-19-related concerns about bats and address misconceptions that could hinder conservation. The top recommendation by stakeholders is to assess and improve bat-related attitudes and beliefs so that citizens become more supportive of conserving bats for their inherent value and roles in maintaining Singapore’s ecosystems. Considering both diverging and consensus viewpoints and engaging various stakeholders in conservation and management decisions can yield both attitudinal change and more effective solutions while meeting the ecological and social needs of conservation.
The article reports the findings of a pathbreaking national study that examines executive compensation in American environmental nonprofits. This article seeks to accomplish two goals: (1) examine the gender disparities in the pay of chief executive officers (CEOs), executive directors, and presidents in environmental organizations; and (2) analyze the ethnic/racial differences in the wages of the top executive in said nonprofits. The study uses financial information from Internal Revenue Service Form 990 to examine top executive salaries in 2,703 organizations. The author collected data from tax forms filed between 2018 and 2020. The article examines how gender and race/ethnicity are associated with compensation. It also analyzes how region, organizational type, urbanization, organizational revenue, staff size, the board size, the receipt of bonuses and incentives, the size of the bonuses/incentives, and the size of the base wages are related to overall compensation. Men occupied 51.2% (1,383) and women 48.8% (1,320) of the top executive positions in the organizations studied. Whites dominate the CEO position, that is, 92% or 2,488 of the CEOs were White, and 8% (215) were people of color. The study found significant gender pay gaps. While the median compensation for men was $117,468, it was $88,568.50 for women. Hence, women CEOs earned 75.4% of what men were paid. There was also an ethnic/racial pay gap. The study found that White CEOs earned a median income of $102,801. The median wage for Asian CEOs was 97.6%, Black CEOs was 96%, Latinx CEOs was 80.8%, and Native American CEOs was 73.4% of what White CEOs earned. White men obtained the highest median compensation of all gender, and racial/ethnic groups studied. The total compensation also varied by region, organizational revenues, organizational type, level of urbanization, staff size, board size, receipt of bonuses and incentives, the size of bonuses/incentives, and size of base wages. The size of the organization’s revenue, whether a CEO received bonuses/incentives, region, the CEO’s race/ethnicity, the CEO’s gender, and size of the staff were significant factors in the multivariate regression model.
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We propose that a key reason why the workplace gender revolution has stalled (England, 2010) is that work remains the site of masculinity contests among men. In this article, we outline a theoretical framework for thinking about work as a masculinity contest, beginning with a brief review of scholarship on masculinity and exploring how the workplace is a context in which men feel particular pressure to prove themselves as “real men.” We identify different dimensions of masculinity along which employees may compete and how the competition may differ by work context. We propose that organizations with Masculinity Contest Cultures (MCCs) represent dysfunctional organizational climates (e.g., rife with toxic leadership, bullying, harassment) associated with poor individual outcomes for men as well as women (e.g., burnout, low organizational dedication, lower well‐being). We discuss how papers in this special issue contribute insight into MCCs and end with a discussion of the contributions made by conceptualizing work as a masculinity contest, and directions for future research.
Technical Report
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Environmental institutions have been working on diversity efforts for the better part of five decades. This report discusses the findings of a study of three types of environmental institutions: 191 conservation and preservation organizations, 74 government environmental agencies, and 28 environmental grantmaking foundations. It also reports the findings of interviews conducted with 21 environmental professionals who were asked to reflect on the state of diversity in environmental institutions. The study focuses primarily on gender, racial, and class diversity in these institutions as it pertains to the demographic characteristics of their boards and staff. It examines the recruitment and hiring of new workers as well as the types of diversity initiatives undertaken by the organizations. The report also discusses other kinds of diversities such as cultural, sexual orientation, inter-generational, and rural-urban.
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Innovative professional development approaches are needed to address the ongoing lack of women leaders in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) careers. Developed from the research on women who persist in engineering and computing professions and essential elements of women’s leadership development, the Leadership Lab for Women in STEM Program was launched in 2014. The Leadership Lab was created as a research-based leadership development program, offering 360-degree feedback, coaching, and practical strategies aimed at increasing the advancement and retention of women in the STEM professions. The goal is to provide women with knowledge, tools and a supportive learning environment to help them navigate, achieve, flourish, and catalyze organizational change in male-dominated and technology-driven organizations. This article describes the importance of creating unique development experiences for women in STEM fields, the genesis of the Leadership Lab, the design and content of the program, and the outcomes for the participants.
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This paper explores the impact of two types of voice and gender on peer-rated social status and subsequent leader emergence. Across two studies—a three-wave field study and an experiment—we find that speaking up promotively, but not prohibitively, is positively and indirectly related to leader emergence via status, and that this relationship is conditional on the gender of the speaker. Specifically, men who spoke up promotively benefited the most in terms of status and leader emergence, not only compared to men who spoke up prohibitively, but also compared to women who spoke up promotively. This research extends our understanding of the outcomes of voice by articulating how it impacts one’s place in his or her group’s social structure, and ultimately whether he or she is seen as a leader. We also add to our understanding of leader emergence by suggesting that talking a lot or participating at a high level in a group may not be enough to emerge as a leader—it also depends how you do it and who you are.
The ocean is the next frontier for many conservation and development activities. Growth in marine protected areas, fisheries management, the blue economy, and marine spatial planning initiatives are occurring both within and beyond national jurisdictions. This mounting activity has coincided with increasing concerns about sustainability and international attention to ocean governance. Yet, despite growing concerns about exclusionary decision-making processes and social injustices, there remains inadequate attention to issues of social justice and inclusion in ocean science, management, governance and funding. In a rapidly changing and progressively busier ocean, we need to learn from past mistakes and identify ways to navigate a just and inclusive path towards sustainability. Proactive attention to inclusive decision-making and social justice is needed across key ocean policy realms including marine conservation, fisheries management, marine spatial planning, the blue economy, climate adaptation and global ocean governance for both ethical and instrumental reasons. This discussion paper aims to stimulate greater engagement with these critical topics. It is a call to action for ocean-focused researchers, policy-makers, managers, practitioners, and funders.
Effective leaders are critical in determining successful outcomes of conservation programs. As the business and economic leadership literature shows, awareness around cultural differences in leadership attributes is important for positive project outcomes set in inter-cultural contexts. We conducted a systematic review of the literature to understand whether, and how, the influence of cultural context was acknowledged when describing successful leadership attributes of conservation leadership. We found fifteen papers from different geographical regions (Africa, Asia, Europe, North America and South America) explicitly addressing conservation leadership attributes. We further explored how characteristics of four key attributes (i.e. motivating others, establishing a shared vision, effective communication and partnership building) were addressed within these different cultural settings. Our review shows that the discourse on how culture influences attributes of a conservation leader and its implications for conservation outcomes is very limited. Awareness and sensitivity around this influence is important as cultural differences may either facilitate or hinder conservation project outcomes, particularly when people from different cultural backgrounds work together.
Johnson examines how privilege operates both to oppress dominated people and to benefit the privileged. Johnson sees privilege as an overarching system that encompasses oppression and benefits based on many different factors: race, sex, gender, class, education, religion, etc. These various forces work together to create a matrix of domination and privilege. He reveals a couple paradoxes within privilege: the tension between individual and social forces embedded within privilege and the divergent effects of privilege, including the potential to be privileged without feeling privileged. He also examines reasons why privileged people do not fight hard enough to challenge systems of privilege while laying out strategies for members of dominant categories to combat forces of domination and privilege.
Organizations continue to be challenged and enriched by the diversity of their workforces. Scholars are increasingly focusing on inclusion to enhance work environments by offering support for a diverse workforce. This article reviews and synthesizes the inclusion literature and provides a model of inclusion that integrates existing literature to offer greater clarity, as well as suggestions for moving the literature forward. We review the inclusion literature consisting of the various foci (work group, organization, leader, organizational practices, and climate) and associated definitions and how it has developed. We then describe themes in the inclusion literature and propose a model of inclusion. Finally, we end by discussing theoretical and practical implications.
Despite early recognition of women’s vital role in biodiversity conservation and increased resilience to climate change at the international policy level, only recently the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biodiversity has taken some concrete steps to mainstream gender in different biodiversity policies. It is expected that this increased recognition will lead to new policy approaches to enhance women’s participation in tackling biodiversity loss and climate change. Such approaches can contribute to climate justice by supporting financial and other forms of support to community-driven, ecosystem-based climate change mitigation and resilience initiatives that foster women’s rights, needs, roles and aspirations.