A Statistical Look at Our Membership

Title: A Statistical Look at Our Membership

Author: Hal Kellogg

Publication: The Outcrop, November 2001, p. 1, 10-11

Basic information about RMAG members is collected via membership applications and renewals. At the end of each fiscal year (November 30th) the data is copied and added to the archives, where it provides a snapshot of the membership for that year. In addition, beginning with 1990, biennial RMAG Directory data have been saved in digital form.

Nov-LS4At the end of FY 2000 RMAG had 1957 members in good standing. Membership was divided into four categories: Active (1,840 members), Associate (44), Student (30), and Honorary (43). The total number of members may seem small when compared to the boom years of the mid 1980s (Chart 1), but represents stabilization and some growth from 1996. The trend is improving, as membership for 2001 is already (as of July) over 2000 people.

Our membership files do not record a member’s gender or age, so no direct count of these two categories is possible. An unofficial estimate, however, suggests that about 166 women were members at the end of 2000, equating to about 8.6% of membership. Previously recorded estimates (courtesy of Ripley Marks) resulted in female membership fractions of 1.1% in 1972, 11.8% in 1986 (the high point), and 7.7% in 1997.

It is possible to look at where members live and work (Table 1). You may be surprised to find that RMAG members reside in seven foreign countries: one each in Australia, Malaysia, New Zealand, Norway, the Philippines, Saudi Arabia, and Singapore, and seventeen in Canada. This compares with 35 members working in eleven countries listed in the 1990 RMAG Directory.

The remaining members are located in 35 of the United States, the bulk of these in Colorado. The next favorite states are Texas (with 206), Wyoming (68), Oklahoma (46), New Mexico (37), Kansas (32), and California (31). Again, this compares with 2,623 members in 46 states in the 1990 Directory. Interestingly, those who call Colorado home, as a percentage of total membership, are virtually unchanged from 1990.

Over 90% of our Colorado members live in the Denver Metro area (area codes 80000-80470) but less than 15% of these work “downtown” (area codes 80201-80204). This is a vast change from 1990, when 88% of metro Denver members listed “downtown” work addresses, and is reflection of the change in employment and workplace locations, which began in 1986.

Employment change is also apparent for those members who list a company name after their name (Table 2). Treating these members as being “employed” by a company is somewhat misleading, as it includes many “one-person” companies. The 61.6% of members with company name entries is, however, a great increase over 1993, when only 35.8% were listed in this category. The combined percentage of members listed as consultants, independents, and retired has been fairly constant since 1990 (1990 = 27.6%, 1993 = 25.5%, 2000 = 22.0%).

Although member’s age is not recorded by RMAG, the year in which they obtained their first degree provides a rough estimate of member age, and is recorded in the database. Year of first degree (YOFD) has been plotted in the past and, when compared through time, gives a fair idea of how our membership is aging. Similarly, it indicates the rate of replacement of lost members by younger geologists. Chart 2 compares year 2000 member YOFDs, grouped by five-year intervals, with like data from the 1990 Directory. (The numbers are not strictly comparable, as by the end of 1990 membership had increased by 7.7%, so the comparison may be only 92.3% valid.)

One observation that can be made from Chart 2, on page 10, is that the bimodal distribution of the data is still apparent and, of course, contains the same peaks. As might be expected, the 1951-55 peak has diminished considerably, as have the numbers in all of the year groups prior to 1976-1980. No one with a YOFD older than 1929 is still a member (there were 10 in 1990). On the other hand the 1976-80 and 1981-1985 groups have held relatively constant and the 1986-90 group has increased. Few new members have enrolled from subsequent years (post-1990).

Nov-LS3Chart 2 might suggest that the average age of our membership has decreased. That is true, as the median YOFD in 1990 was 1967, whereas in 2000 it was 1971. However, a four-year increase in median age in ten years signals just the opposite, that we are getting relatively older.

It is hoped that this brief presentation has given our members a better idea of what RMAG is today. Readers, with a little study of the data, should be able to draw many more inferences about our membership.