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Why does science need to be more equitable for women?

GLF Live with IPCC vice-chair Ko Barrett

In late 2021 and early 2022, the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is set to release its Sixth Assessment Report (AR6), which is regarded as the last climate change report of its caliber and consequence to inform the 2030 climate change agenda. Among the more than 700 experts contributing to the report from around the world, one-third are women – a higher percentage than ever before.

This proportion was not raised on accident. From career progression to publishing to salaries, there are sizable gaps between men and women scientists, and changing these inequities takes concerted effort, as the IPCC made this year. According to the UNESCO Institute for Statistics, women account for less than 30 percent of all researchers globally.

On 2021’s International Day of Women and Girls in Science IPCC vice-chair and acclaimed climate policy expert Ko Barrett spoke in a GLF Live on how scientific fields can become more equitable – and why it’s imperative for the climate that they do.

Ko Barrett is the Deputy Assistant Administrator for Research at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) where she supervises daily operations and administration of NOAA’s research enterprise. In 2015, Ko Barrett was one of the first women elected to serve as a vice chair of the IPCC. For over 15 years, she has represented the United States on delegations charged with negotiating and adopting scientific assessments undertaken by the IPCC. She has also served for over a decade as a lead negotiator for the United States on the United Nations treaty on climate change. Ko Barrett is widely recognized as an expert on climate policy, particularly on issues related to climate impacts and strategies to help society adapt to a changing world.


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