Including gender in water management modelling

December 17th, 2019

How to include gender considerations in water management modelling?

Alex Baker and Betha Westall
Two people standing in front of a presentation slide
Alex Baker and Betha Westall presented their insights into integrating gender and modelling at MODSIM 2019

Alex Baker and Betha Westall presented their insights into integrating gender and modelling at MODSIM 2019

That’s the question that Alex Baker (CSIRO) and Betha Westall (Monash University) addressed at the 23rd International Congress on Modelling and Simulation (MODSIM2019) in Canberra.

Alex and Betha presented their paper in a session run by Susan Cuddy (CSIRO) entitled, Being socially inclusive in your modelling practices: what does this mean and what are the benefits? The session focussed on the importance of consideration of relevant social science teachings in modelling with implications for how we conceptualise and configure systems for modelling, how we engage with stakeholders and how we report results.

Integrating gender into water management modelling has been a longer term program at CSIRO, Australia’s national science agency, through the Australian’s Government’s Sustainable Development Investment Portfolio (SDIP). This work built on contributions from CSIRO vacation scholars Evie Packett and Toby Walmsley to bring gender considerations into water modelling practices.

The gender awareness training modules explore the role that assumptions and personal values have when conceptualising, applying and interpreting models. As a first capacity building step, an initial training module was presented to the SDIP team in February 2019. Refinement and revision in consultation with researchers and practitioners was carried out throughout 2019.

Attendance at the session was strong, with audience members from a diverse range of backgrounds and disciplines in modelling. Following the presentation, many audience members displayed interest in the training module and some provided their insight and suggestions on how to further develop the work. Specific examples came from gender perspectives in engineering practices and defence training courses on gender and inclusion.

Alexa and Betha were encouraged by feedback from an agricultural modeller who attended the session and later reflected that the presentation had caused a rethink of their approach to modelling practices and reflection on questions around gender and social inclusion. This illustrated the importance of Alex and Betha’s work and they welcomed the opportunity to share it with modellers from different disciplines at MODSIM 2019.

About SDIP

The SDIP Phase 2 aims to improve the integrated management of water, energy and food in the Himalayan river basins, addressing climate risk and the interests of women and girls. It seeks to:

  • strengthen practices for regional cooperation
  • generate and use critical new knowledge to enhance regional cooperation
  • improve the regional enabling environment for private sector engagement.

Find out more about SDIP in CSIRO by visiting our website and the Gender page

Access the SDIP publications and Gender publications

Find more information about international water research at CSIRO