“Pushing the limits”: experiences of women in tropical peatland research

Sara Thornton, Sarah Cook, Dwi Astiani, Kartika Hapsari, Helena Varkkey, Lydia Cole, Greta Dargie, Sofie Sjogersten, Norliyana Zawawi, Susan Page

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


Science fields, including tropical peatland research, are facing persistent under-representation of women. In this perspective piece we explore, as women at different stages of our career, our personal experiences of ‘what is it like to be a woman working in tropical peatland science’? We collected our responses and analysed them thematically. While we come from a variety of different backgrounds and cultures, our responses all dealt with common issues: from practical challenges of being women in the field, persistent sexism, issues of harassment to navigating the politics of research as a woman. The peat swamp is seen as a site of rebellion against traditional gender roles. Senior female role models were also vital for us all, which highlights that mentoring schemes in aquatic and wetland research, as in other science fields, need further consideration and investment. Continuing to improve gender balance is central to effecting a positive change in research culture, and we stress that the issue of the ‘bravado’ surrounding fieldwork needs to be further explored and challenged. By pushing these ‘limits’ both in the field and in the academy, we will not only produce a more equal and compassionate working environment but also ultimately improve our science.
Original languageEnglish
Article numberMF19132
JournalMarine and Freshwater Research
VolumeOnline Early
Early online date24 Sept 2019
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 24 Sept 2019


  • Conservation
  • Ecology
  • Tropics
  • Wetlands


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