NMGS Spring Meeting Keynote

Deborah Green

Presentation Title: “You Don’t Look Like a Geologist — A Conversation on Diversity (or a Lack Thereof) in Our Profession”

Auditorium, Macey Center, April 16, 2020 (time TBA)

Deborah Green
Deborah Green

Too many times as a young geologist I was told, “You don’t look like a geologist,” often by clients and even by my own company’s managers. I haven’t heard that comment in some years, and I hope that speaks to the fact that more women are studying geology and going on to careers in our field, so the face of a geologist isn’t necessarily male anymore. According to recent statistics from the American Geosciences Institute (AGI) in the Status of Recent Geoscience Graduates report (Wilson, 2017), at least forty percent of geology graduates are women. However, we are still an overwhelmingly white profession (the same report indicates less than twelve percent of geology graduates identify themselves as belonging to underrepresented minority groups). There will be some statistics, but they’ll be a starting point to talk about why there is so little diversity in our field. Increasing diversity would expand the points of view team members bring to projects, and enrich the perspectives we use to solve the problems facing us. There is science that shows bringing diversity to our work is not only the right thing to do, it’s the smart thing to do. This presentation will be a conversation in which we all participate, exploring the reasons why the geosciences are the least diverse of the STEM fields in the U.S.


Deborah Green is a licensed professional geologist with 35 years of experience in environmental and engineering geology projects across the United States. She holds degrees from the University of Rochester and the Center for Engineering Geology at Texas A&M. She’s worked in consulting and industry, beginning her career with a large engineering consulting firm working on site selection and environmental investigation and remediation projects, including RCRA-regulated and Superfund sites. She then worked as a remediation project manager in industry where she coordinated teams of scientists, engineers, and contractors, and negotiated clean-up targets with state and federal regulatory agencies. For 25 years, Deborah has been a self-employed consultant, working on varied projects, from RCRA site closures to water resource evaluations to paleoseismology studies. Now, semi-retired, she’s written a novel whose protagonist is an engineering geologist working on a dam with a problematic foundation. Her website, www.geologistwriter.com, is populated with short essays on geology, the natural world, and our interactions with them. Deborah served as the 31st Richard H. Jahns Distinguished Lecturer in 2019, only the second woman selected for that honor.

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