International Women’s Day 2021: #ChooseToChallenge

The theme for International Women’s Day 2021 is #ChooseToChallenge.

“A challenged world is an alert world. Individually, we’re all responsible for our own thoughts and actions – all day, every day.

We can all choose to challenge and call out gender bias and inequality. We can all choose to seek out and celebrate women’s achievements. Collectively, we can all help create an inclusive world.

From challenge comes change, so let’s all choose to challenge.”

– From internationalwomensday.com

To celebrate this, we asked Editors across all of the BES Journals to show solidarity and support with the aim of International Women’s Day – and to make a pledge to help to reduce gender inequality.

We are also encouraging our Editorial Boards to diversify the pool of reviewers for our journals in order both to ensure that underrepresented voices are heard, and that the next generation of experts can be trained in peer-review excellence. To assist with this, we have collated a selection of resources that can be used to help find contacts outside of their usual bubble and in particular for women and underrepresented minorities:

If you have any other resources you would recommend, please comment on our post below.

The BES have been running mentoring in some from since 2009, with the Women in Ecology Mentoring Scheme a key aspect of this provision. We are currently reviewing our processes to expand our mentoring and support to our members. More details on the shape of the adapted scheme will be shared later this year.

We #ChooseToChallenge, will you?

Ana Pineda

“I will empower women to connect their scientific work with their female bodies

The reason for this pledge is that half of the women in the world have a menstrual cycle. And still is something that is stigmatized. Most women don’t fully understand this cycle and how it affects them at the physical, emotional but also at the mental level. This is one of the reasons for the common frustrations of women about their productivity, in a field that has been mainly designed for men. And planning our scientific work around our cycle and those effects in our body can help female scientists to work more productively while respecting our female bodies.
Florencia Yannelli

“I will challenge gender stereotypes and bias


I will #ChooseToChallenge gender stereotypes and bias by increasing #academicmoms visibility. We need to end the motherhood penalty in academia and promote a healthy work/family balance.
Holly Jones

“I will call out gender stereotypes and bias”

Because my daughters deserve a future where the only thing holding them back is how big they can dream.
Julia Koricheva

“I will consider gender balance when selecting reviewers”

The reason for this pledge is that I am conscious that, despite being a woman, often the first names which come to my mind when I, as an Associate Editor, think of potential reviewers for a manuscript tend to be names of male colleagues. I guess it is a result of both unconscious bias and also smaller proportion of women researchers, so it is helpful to challenge myself before finalizing the list to check whether I actually included women in the list as well.
Katrina Davis

“I will forge positive visibility of women”


As a graduate student, the visibility of great female scientists gave me the evidence I needed to push back against gender stereotypes and expectations.
Mahasweta Saha

“I will challenge gender stereotypes and bias

Between Nov 2017-Feb 2019, I was working in Germany while living in the UK. My husband worked in the UK. I commuted every week between 2 countries to balance work life with family. It was not easy and took some strong determination. During this time I was told by a male Professor that he has never heard of anyone commuting like me and is only aware of another male scientist who was commuting between Austria and Germany and that it resulted in a divorce. The Professor laughed at this. I felt it was inappropriate of him to say something like this, make fun out of it and took it as a challenge that even a female scientist can commute and this won’t necessarily lead to a divorce.
Michele Dechoum

“I will challenge gender stereotypes and bias


As coordinator of a volunteering project focused on the management of invasive plants, it is not rare that male volunteers try to establish which activities should be executed by men and which should be executed by women, usually suggesting that women must be engaged in “lighter” activities in terms of physical effort. I choose to challenge by giving voice to these women, in order to make them feel free to engage in the project in the way that best fits them.
Yvonne Buckley

“I will choose to challenge how grants are assessed”

Read Yvonne’s blog post on her recent experience with gender bias and inequality in the grants process
Ainara Cortes

“I will #choosetochallenge and call out gender bias and inequality”
Chloe Robinson

I will #choosetochallenge by forging positive visibility of women and gender minorities”
Dana Hawley

“I will challenge racist and gender-based stereotypes and actions”
Emilia Hannula

“I will #choosetochallenge and call out gender bias and inequality”
Kate Irvine

“I will help forge a gender equal world”
Aline Magdalena Lee
Camille Desjonquères
Caroline Brophy
Honor Prentice
Maria Briones
Jane Catford

David Gibson

“I will help forge a gender equal world

I make this pledge because I want a fair world for all.
Frederik De Laender

“I will stand up against gender stereotyping and inequality

People should be given total liberty to express themselves as they wish.
Paul Karol

“I will challenge gender stereotypes and bias

Gender roles constrain individual freedom in work and life.
Peter Thrall

This is super important for women, but also for the rest of us. Anything other than a completely inclusive, gender equal world makes no sense to me. Without all of us at the same table, equally valued and respected, human society is incomplete and our potential is unfulfilled
Andrea Belgrano

“I will ensure diversity in society without any perceived gender barriers”
Charles Kwit

“I will celebrate women’s achievements”
Giovanni Rapacciuolo

“I will challenge gender stereotypes and bias”
Guillaume de Lafontaine

“I will strive to forge a gender equal world #ChooseToChallenge”
Josh Galperin

“I recently withdrew from an all-male panel. Not serving on #manels is something I am glad to continue doing
Lessandro Gontijo

“I will #choosetochallenge and call out gender bias and inequality”
Peter Bridgewater

“I will #choosetochallenge by promoting women’s critical role in nature conservation”
Raul Costa Pereira

“I will challenge gender stereotypes and bias”
Russell Hitchings

“I will work to ensure that all voices are heard in meetings and encourage my nieces to do whatever they want with their lives.”
Stephen Bonser

“I will try to influence others’ beliefs & actions”
Orly Razgour

“I will #choosetochallenge any form of discrimination, bias and inequality”
Sarah Knutie

“I will #choosetochallenge by fostering and promoting the success of all my female trainees, colleagues, and mentors”
Nalini Puniamoorthy
Franciska de Vries
Mariano A. Rodriguez-Cabal & M. Noelia Barrios-Garcia
Andrew Park
Lara Ferry
Nate Sanders
Rob Salguero-Gómez
Thibault Datry

Join us!

Thank you to all the BES Editors for sending in their image to help amplify the cause. If you’d like to join us and show your support for an inclusive world, strike the #ChooseToChallenge pose and share on social media using #ChooseToChallenge #IWD2021.

Finally, we would like to acknowledge that we do not want to exclude those that don’t fit gender/sex binaries by taking part in International Women’s Day, but rather encourage everyone to challenge and address all forms of gender/sexual discrimination and use International Women’s Day as a platform to widely communicate these inequalities.

6 thoughts on “International Women’s Day 2021: #ChooseToChallenge

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