Environmental NGOs in Washington- are they gender balanced?

In recognition of Women’s Climate Justice Day of Action today, September 29th, I’ve pulled together a little survey looking at gender and the environment in my own state. I’m doing this because I’ve been curious about it for a few months now, but haven’t ever seen something like this done before. I did a quick survey of the apparent genders of the board members for the following environmental groups working primarily in Washington State. Where information was unavailable, for example, there are in-state staff but no in-state board, those organizations were included in one table but not the other.

NGO Board Men Women
Conservation Northwest 7 6
Puget Soundkeeper 13 5
WA Conservation Voters 9 7
WA Toxics Coalition 1 7
NW Straits Commission 10 3
Harbor Wild Watch 3 3
WA Environmental Council 10 12
NW Energy Coalition 7 7
Sound Action 3 3
Audubon 11 10
Mountains to Sound 42 15
The Nature Conservancy Washington 17 7
Total 133 85

85 out of 218 board members of local environmental NGOs are women. That’s 39% women. 7 chairs/presidents of the board were men and 2 were women.

NGO Staff Men Women
Conservation Northwest 11 10
Puget Soundkeeper 3 9
WA Conservation Voters 5 11
WA Toxics Coalition 0 6
NW Straits Commission 1 5
Harbor Wild Watch 1 5
WA Environmental Council 11 19
Environment Washington 2 0
NW Energy Coalition 4 6
Audubon 1 5
Mountains to Sound 10 8
The Nature Conservancy Washington 2 8
Surfrider Foundation 3 0
Total 54 92

92 out of 146 staff members of environmental NGOs are women. That’s 63% women. I also found that 7 executive directors were women and 4 executive directors were men.

Climate Justice means to me that people of all genders have equal opportunity to influence environmental policy and management. It’s pretty awesome that enviro NGO staff are heavily women, even in the leadership positions. But it appears there may be an imbalance as the boards are men heavy, yet the staff are women heavy- and it makes me wonder what else is going on, and what else we can do today and beyond this Day of Action.

Do these results surprise you? What’s your experience with men and women in environmental groups in Washington? Let’s chat. @Women_and_Fish

-B

*I used the use of “he” and “she” to identify a person’s gender. Obviously my cursory analysis only includes 2 genders, but I did not find any staff bios with gender neutral pronouns. I’d love to do a more detailed survey, so please contribute to the list if you have additional information or NGOs to include.

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Fighting over fish

This is an excerpt from a group interview with the fishermen who guard their MPA in Caticugan, Siquijor.

Me: Has there been conflict about the sanctuary?

Fisher 1: Hard headed fishermen. That is the conflict.

Fisher 2: Mountain minded fishermen.

Fisher 1: Because some of the hard headed fishermen shot our president and …

Me: Sorry?

Fisher 2: They had a triple 7 gun.

Me: They shot at you?

Fisher 2: Yeah.

Me: Were you guarding or were you…?

Fisher 2: Roaming the road, (I was) walking the road and got shot by those boys.

 And then he describes how he was shot four times in the leg and shows me the scars.

Me: (Were they) fishermen from this community?

Fisher 1: Illegal fishers.

Me: What kind of illegal fishing do they do?

Fisher 1: (They use) triple nets and trammel nets.

Me: Is it dangerous to be a part of the sanctuary?

Fisher 1: Yeah. (It is) dangerous. I am scared but I still watch the marine sanctuary… I believe in God so there is no danger.

These men are husbands, fathers, and children.  They volunteer to guard the local coral reef for 24 hour shifts once a week.  They hope that there will be enough fish someday that their children will be able to earn more than $2 a day.  Hats off to you, guys.  I know few men so brave.