Robust data are the base of effective gender diversity policy. Evidence shows that gender inequality is still pervasive in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). Coastal geoscience and engineering (CGE) encompasses professionals working on coastal processes, integrating expertise across physics, geomorphology, engineering, planning and management. The article presents novel results of gender inequality and experiences of gender bias in CGE, and proposes practical steps to address it. It analyses the gender representation in 9 societies, 25 journals, and 10 conferences in CGE and establishes that women represent 30% of the international CGE community, yet there is under-representation in prestige roles such as journal editorial board members (15% women) and conference organisers (18% women). The data show that female underrepresentation is less prominent when the path to prestige roles is clearly outlined and candidates can self-nominate or volunteer instead of the traditional invitation-only pathway. By analysing the views of 314 survey respondents (34% male, 65% female, and 1% ‘‘other’’), we show that 81% perceive the lack of female role models as a key hurdle for gender equity, and a significantly larger proportion of females (47%) felt held back in their careers due to their gender in comparison with males (9%). The lack of women in prestige roles and senior positions contributes to 81% of survey respondents perceiving the lack of female role models in CGE as a key hurdle for gender equality. While it is clear that having more women as role models is important, this is not enough to effect change. Here seven practical steps towards achieving gender equity in CGE are presented: (1) Advocate for more women in prestige roles; (2) Promote high-achieving females; (3) Create awareness of gender bias; (4) Speak up; (5) Get better support for return to work; (6) Redefine success; and, (7) Encourage more women to enter the discipline at a young age. Some of these steps can be successfully implemented immediately (steps 1–4), while others need institutional engagement and represent major societal overhauls. In any case, these seven practical steps require actions that can start immediately.