Magazine article Geographical

Changing Faces at the Society

Magazine article Geographical

Changing Faces at the Society

Article excerpt

If the Society's headquarters are any indicator of its membership, then passers-by on Exhibition Road could conclude that our Fellows are forward-looking but, at heart, somewhat traditional. A Victorian building with a 1930s extension, to which a concrete-and-glass entrance has been added, the home of the Royal Geographical Society (with IBG) certainly seems to be a fitting reflection of this long-established organisation that fosters progressive ideas and research.

But, exactly who are our members, what do they do and what use do they make of the Society? We were keen to find out more about our 15,000 members, so late last year we undertook a membership survey. Happily, we were rewarded with a positive response--both in number and the views reflected.

The last research of this kind was carried out in 1989, and over the intervening years there have been striking changes. Today, our members come from a broader range of backgrounds and occupations than was the case in 1989. There are also more of them, a reflection of the fact that we've created a new membership category that allows people to become members as well as Fellows. And there's been an increase in the proportion of female members, who now represent a third of our overall membership. We also found that the age of our members mirrors that of similar organisations, with a peak in those aged 50-59 years.

When it comes to occupation, it gets more difficult to characterise a typical member of the Society. Our members span academia, from students to professors, as well as members of the civil and military services. …

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