Work-life balance in marine mammal science

A new article on the challenges of work-life balance in marine mammal science has just come out – published (appropriately) in the journal Marine Mammal Science.  This opinion piece from Sascha Hooker at the Sea Mammal Research Unit here in St Andrews together will colleagues in the USA explores suggestions for action.

The open access article can be found here.


It is widely acknowledged that family and care-giving responsibilities are driving women away from Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) fields.  Marine mammal science often incurs heavy fieldwork and travel obligations, which make it a challenging career in which to find work-life balance. This opinion piece explores gender equality, equity (the principles of fairness that lead to equality), and work-life balance in science generally and in this field in particular.  We aim to (1) raise awareness of these issues among members of the Society for Marine Mammalogy, (2) explore members’ attitudes and viewpoints collected from an online survey and further discussion at a biennial conference workshop in 2015 and (3) make suggestions for members to consider for action, or for the Board of Governors to consider in terms of changes to policy or procedures.  Leaks in our pipeline – the attrition of women, and others with additional caring responsibilities – represent an intellectual and economic loss.  By striving for equity and promoting work-life balance, we will help to ensure a healthy and productive Society better able to succeed in its aims promoting education, high quality research, conservation and management of marine mammals.