Creating and promoting gender equity and diversity in professional geological societies: A focus on AAPG

Main Article Content

Rachelle Kernen
Kathryn Amos
Clara Abu
Jonathan Allen
Sumiyyah Ahmed
Lauren Birgenheier
Joy Frank-Collins
Terra George
Kiara Gomez
Autumn Haagsma
Nicole Hart-Wagoner
Andrea López Vega
Chioma Onwumelu
Bethany Rysak


When professional organizations allow gender inequity to persist, they continually lose talented, valuable individuals who enrich and lead their groups and drive innovation. This paper presents an analysis of membership data and ways in which member contributions are recognized by the American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG) between 2017-2020, in relation to gender. These are compared to similar data from the American Geophysical Union (AGU), and the Geological Society of America (GSA). There is clear evidence of continued gender inequity in these professional geological societies, particularly in the AAPG; details are presented herein. Within the AAPG, there have been notable improvements in reducing the extent of gender inequities over the last decade. However, substantial gender inequities remain in the percentage of women and gender-diverse individuals holding leadership and technical positions, giving distinguished lectures, and receiving technical awards. The AAPG trails behind the GSA and AGU across the membership of women and diversity and inclusion efforts, programs, and frameworks. Because the AAPG is a major international geoscience professional organization, this inequity greatly contributes to the gender disparity that exists in the broader geoscience community. The evaluation of historical AAPG membership data in this study, alongside the review of published literature and actions to improve equity diversity and inclusion in other professional societies/organizations, allows for an opportunity to propose a range of improvements for AAPG to implement. We propose that implementing diversity standards in AAPG’s most visible and prestigious awards will advance gender equity and give meaningful recognition and power to those present with a reduced opportunity to influence. We note and include reference to literature on this topic, that gender equity issues must be addressed concerning race and ethnicity. Specific actions should be taken to provide support for marginalized women such as women of color and Indigenous women, and gender-diverse people. As geoscientists, it is our moral and ethical obligation to address these issues so professional societies such as AAPG can demonstrate tangible efforts to eliminate the discrimination, bias, and barriers many women and gender-diverse individuals encounter and support them in having equitable opportunities and recognition as professional geoscientists.

Article Details

How to Cite
Kernen, R. (2023) “Creating and promoting gender equity and diversity in professional geological societies: A focus on AAPG”, JOURNAL OF GEOETHICS AND SOCIAL GEOSCIENCES, 1(1), pp. 1–31. doi:10.13127/jgsg-27.
Author Biographies

Rachelle Kernen, The University of Adelaide

Dr. Rachelle Kernen currently the South Australian Representative for Women in Earth and Environmental Sciences Australasia and a Superstar of STEM through Australia Science and Technology. As a Research Fellow and a recipient of the prestigious Global Talent Visa, her research applies her expertise in sedimentology, stratigraphy, and salt-sediment interaction to subsurface carbon dioxide and hydrogen storage and critical mineral deposits.

Kathryn Amos, The University of Adelaide

Dr. Kathryn Amos is currently Head of School for the Australian School of Petroleum and Energy Resources, University of Adelaide. Kathryn obtained her PhD in 2004 from the University of East Anglia, United Kingdom. She is a clastic sedimentologist with expertise spanning Neoproterozoic to present day deposits, environments, sediment transport processes and stratigraphy.

Clara Abu, Schlumberger

Clara Abu is a Petroleum geoscientist, seismic interpreter, salt-tectonics enthusiast in the Digital Subsurface Solutions team at Schlumberger UK. She has a BSc Honors in Geology from the University of Ibadan, Nigeria and an MSc in Petroleum Geoscience (Imperial College). She is currently involved in part-time research with the Earth Science and Engineering Basins Research Group at Imperial College London.

Jonathan Allen, Chevron

Jonathan Allen is a senior earth scientist at Chevron. He received a B.A. from Colby College and his M.S. and Ph.D. from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Jon is passionate about promoting diversity and inclusion within the energy industry having led and coordinated several D&I programs and initiatives. He is a former president of Chevron’s LGBTQ+ employee resource group (PRIDE) and currently serves as secretary on the AAPG Executive Committee.

Sumiyyah Ahmed, Texas A&M, College Station; Deloitte US

Sumiyyah Ahmed is a data scientist and geologist having held varying positions as a geologist at Occidental Petroleum and Tudor, Pickering Holt Co. She received her B.S. and M.S. in Geology from The University of Texas at Austin (2008) and University of Houston, Main (2011), and is currently pursuing her M.S. in Analytics from Texas A&M. She has worked on oil and gas assets primarily in Texas and New Mexico.

Lauren Birgenheier, The University of Utah, Geology and Geophysics Department

Dr. Lauren Birgenheier is an Associate Professor at University of Utah, specializing in sedimentary geology. Her research addresses energy development, especially unconventional resources, and deep-time paleoclimate. She was a 2018 AAPG Inspirational Geoscience Educator awardee and 2019 GRIT team awardee for advancing diversity of the energy workforce. Her Ph.D. is from University of Nebraska-Lincoln, with a B.A. from Colorado College.

Joy Frank-Collins, The Frank-Collins Group, LLC

Joy Frank-Collins has over 20 years in Public Relations and writing. Joy is skilled at creating and implementing strategic PR Plans, campaigns, trade show communications initiatives and digital campaigns. Joy’s writing ranges from sports to travel to special interest features in the Columbus Monthly, Pittsburgh Magazine, AARP, The Marietta Times, and two baseball books published in 2018.

Terra George, EOG Resources

Terra J. George, former AAPGWN Chair, is a Texas-based geologist who is passionate about improving equality in geoscience.  Terra has been in the petroleum industry since 2005 and has worked for companies such as Chesapeake Energy, ConocoPhillips, Diamondback Energy, and EOG Resources.  She completed a BS in Geology from Oklahoma State University and an MS in Geoscience from UT Austin.

Kiara Gomez, The University of Texas at Austin, Department of Geological Sciences

Kiara J. Gomez (B.A. from Smith College, 2014; M.Sc. from the Technical University of Crete, 2016) is a PhD candidate at the University of Texas at Austin, where she is exploring the redox evolution of North Sea during the Jurassic. Her focus is geochemistry and enjoys working on multidisciplinary projects where she uses her analytical skills to answer challenging questions.

Autumn Haagsma, Miami University

Autumn Haagsma is currently a Research Geoscientist at Battelle and a PhD student at Miami University. Autumn’s background is in physics and geology which given her a useful skill set which combines the mathematical and technical side to the qualitative geological problems. Currently Autumn is involved in government and commercial projects exploring CO2 sequestration, EOR, and wellbore integrity.

Andrea López Vega, Total Energies

Andrea López-Vega is Reservoir Geologist for Mostarda field in Block 32 at Total Energies based in Luanda, Angola. Before, she was based in Santa Cruz, Bolivia, working on Incahuasi field. Previously, she was G&G technical support specialist at Schlumberger. She holds a Geological Engineering Degree from Instituto Politécnico Nacional, Mexico and a master’s degree in Reservoir Geology from Montpellier University, France.

Chioma Onwumelu, The University of North Dakota, Harold Hamm School of Geology and Geological Engineering

Chioma Onwumelu is a PhD candidate in Geology at the University of North Dakota (UND) and works as a Research Assistant at UND Energy & Environmental Research Center. Her research interest is in petroleum geochemistry, formation evaluation and characterization of source and reservoir rocks with applications to CO2 storage in geologic formation and geothermal energy exploration.

Bethany Rysak, Ovintiv Services Inc.

Bethany Rysak received her B.S. degree in geoscience from Trinity University in 2018, and her M.S. degree in geoscience from the University of Texas at Austin in 2021. Her thesis work focuses on the analysis of hydraulic fracture propagation and morphology in the Permian Basin. Before graduate school, Bethany was a geologist at Southwest Research Institute where she was involved in the study of structural deformation and consultation for the oil and gas industry.

How to Cite

Kernen, R. (2023) “Creating and promoting gender equity and diversity in professional geological societies: A focus on AAPG”, JOURNAL OF GEOETHICS AND SOCIAL GEOSCIENCES, 1(1), pp. 1–31. doi:10.13127/jgsg-27.

Similar Articles

You may also start an advanced similarity search for this article.