Happy International Women in Science Day: Celebrating the Women Scientists at the SW CASC

Feb. 11, 2020
Collage of headshots for each of the researchers featured in the article.

SW CASC Women In Science from left to right: Top – Alison Meadow, Althea Walker, Earyn McGee, Tamara Wall, Elizabeth “Elly” Fard; Bottom – Lydia Jenkins, Sarah LeRoy, Ann Willis, Erica Fleishman, Christina Morrisett

According to the United Nations less than 30% of researchers around the world are women, despite women making up about half of the global population. In order to combat negative stereotypes and biases that prevent women from entering science fields, the United Nations has declared February 11th the International Day of Women and Girls in Science. Here at the SW CASC, we value our women scientists and have invited them to say a few words about some of their experiences related to being a woman in science.


Elly Fard, SW CASC Fellow, University of California, Los Angeles

Who is your female science mentor?

"I am fortunate in that my first academic role model was a female. She showed me what was possible through her actions, and provided me invaluable guidance, because she had also experienced similar hurdles in academia. Her presence supported me and allowed me to flourish, and I hope that I too can provide the same guidance and support that allowed me to thrive."


Dr. Erica Fleishman, SW CASC Investigator, Colorado State University

Who is your female science mentor?

“My most influential mentors, both male and female, taught me to be humble before nature, confident intellectually, and careful in my personal relationships. It would be dishonest to deny that gender identity influenced our interactions, but I never felt that my gender affected how they perceived me as a scientist and colleague. Their training again and again helps me to prioritize professional integrity in the face of rather different perceptions.”


Lydia Jenkins, SW CASC Fellow, University of Arizona

 Why is it important to highlight women in science?

“Women have always been scientists and knowledge holders (especially in Indigenous communities) but we haven’t been given credit for our contributions historically. It’s important to have women, and a diverse representation of women, in science to ensure that we are using science practices to serve all sectors of society. This also means that as we strive to have gender equity in science, we also need to strive to have racial and socioeconomic equity.”


Sarah LeRoy, SW CASC Science Communications Coordinator

Who is your female science mentor?

“I am sad to say that during my undergraduate and graduate degree programs, I lacked a female mentor. That is not to say that there weren’t female scientists in my program (although there were very few), I just felt that I got more support from the male scientists in my program. However, there were many fellow female graduate students in my program, and we mentored each other and were each other’s support going through the program. I don’t know what I would have done without them, and they are all now renowned scientists in their fields mentoring their own female students. The times are indeed changing, but we still have much more work to do!”


Dr. Alison Meadow, SW CASC Investigator, University of Arizona

Why is it important to highlight women in science?

“Good solutions depend on innovative thinking. And innovative thinking requires diverse perspectives and experiences. It’s important to highlight, support, and actively include women in science because we need all the voices, all the perspectives, all the experiences if we’re going to find innovative solutions to the problems we’re facing.”


Earyn McGee, SW CASC Communications Assistant 

Why is it important to highlight women in science?

“Women, especially women from minoritized backgrounds, have largely been written out of history in many fields including science. Women have always been groundbreakers and contributors to scientific knowledge. It has long been time for women in science to get their props. It is also important to highlight women in science so that we inspire the next generation, young girls, to pursue careers in science. The world is facing many challenges and we need the best to come up with solutions. If everyone is not included, we really do not have the best minds working together to make the world a better place for future generations.”


Christina Morrisett, SW CASC Fellow, Utah State University

Who is your female scientist mentor?

"I actually wholly lacked devoted female mentorship in science until starting my PhD at Utah State University. So, my PhD advisor, Dr. Sarah Null, is actually my first woman-identifying science mentor. And I didn't stop there; my committee is 60% women!"


Althea Walker, SW CASC Tribal Climate Adaptation Science Liaison, American Indian Higher Education Consortium

Why is it important to highlight women in science?

“I think it’s important to highlight Indigenous women in science because they walk in two worlds; the worlds of Western Science and Indigenous Knowledge. Indigenous women in science have taken up the responsibility of being a bridge between these two worlds and provide a unique perspective that only Indigenous women can.”


Dr. Tamara Wall, SW CASC Investigator, Desert Research Institute

Why is it important to highlight women in science?

“Half of the world population is female, and the fact that world-wide, we have so few women engaged in careers in science and research is deplorable. Highlighting women who are scientists is important because it normalizes women in this role in our social landscapes.”


Ann Willis, SW CASC Fellow, University of California Davis

What does it mean to be a woman in science?

“Honestly, the longer I'm in this field, the more it feels like a fight to stay. I'm constantly navigating issues of representation, inclusion, and equity, even with colleagues who I know are supportive of these ideas. Now that I'm mid-career, I also feel compelled to advocate for early career female scientists, for whom the power imbalance is especially fraught. Trying to address those issues while meeting expectations that often feel higher for me than they are for others make the day-to-day experience challenging. But the times when I get to do science and focus on the work that drew me to this field in the first place is so wonderful.”