Empowering Women in the Sciences

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Getting some breakfast with LaVana.

A few weeks ago, I was privileged and honoured to attend the American Natural History Museum 4th Annual Student Conference for Conservation Science in New York City. It was an event lead by several representatives of the museum  (Dr. Felicity Arengo, Kristin Douglas, Margaret Law, Dr. Ana Luz Porzecanski, and Dr. Sterling: SCCS-NY Content and Logistics Coordination) and the attendance was outnumbered by my sistas to the males. In my estimate, it was easily a 3:1 ratio of women to men. I was literally saying “Girl Power!” throughout the event as I networked to young women because I was so proud to see that their interests are being encouraged.

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I will ALWAYS encourage my little sister to be more than what the world thinks of her because she is a woman of colour. Hat from: LuSimply

Yes, I would consider myself as a feminist in the sense that I believe women should be socially, culturally, and economically treated as equals to males when doing the same amount of work based on their careers. That it is her choice when it comes to her body, mind and spirit. Most importantly, I am a firm believer in saying positive affirmations to all females regardless of their situations and backgrounds to create a spark of hope in their darkest times whether it is with work, relationships, or even their self esteem.

I say all of this to express one of my deepest desires: for more females to partake in the sciences without being judged by their sex. I wish this because I want to be able to talk to another young woman and tell her that she can and will become an excellent contribution to the overall science and math areas. It is still a developing norm  that more and more females are being recognized as highly and favorably as our male counterparts.  Throughout my journeys to and from The Bahamas, my father has used me as an example in several classes as a positive career model. Many girls in the classroom would tell me what they wish to do, and those that mentioned anything in the math or sciences were laughed at and teased. They are told by several of their peers, both male and female, that they cannot do it because they are girls. That only guys can do it.

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Left to Right: Dr. Earl and Myself.

And yes, I do know that there are many well known women out there such as the wonderful Dr. Sylvia Earl, as seen in the photo above. I was able to meet with her personally after one of her talks during the 2nd Annual Bahamas Natural History Conference in March of 2014. Her speech was inspirational. It was interesting hearing her and how her passion continues to grow each and every day for the ocean and its conservation. Especially how The Bahamas has a very dear spot in her hearts. This marvelous woman is still diving and travelling all over the world. Another example is Dr. Diane Claridge and Charlotte Dunn of the Bahamas Marine Mammal research Organization. They are the few diamonds in the rough when I wish to see so much more diamonds.

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Left to Right: Dr. Kiki Jenkins, Me, and Dr. Ayana Johnson.

At the ANHM, I had mentioned a few exceptional people that LaVana, my younger sister, and I had met including Dr. John Cigliano, Dr. Kiki Jenkins and Dr. Ayana Johnson. During the workshops that we had attended on the last day, the morning and afternoon sessions were both paneled by all females. Each one of these women were either PhD candidates or PhDs already. They each had something unique to offer to the workshops. The workshop my sister and I attended was called “What am I going to do with the Rest of my Life?! Careers in Conservation.”

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Some of my notes taken during the “What am I going to do with the Rest of my Life […]” afternoon workshop.

Again, I highly enjoyed how blunt and honest these women were with us. They did not sugar coat anything and did not try to give us false hope. They answered my questions honestly and thoughtfully even though they dealt mainly with working in a ‘man’s world’ of science and how to combat it as they climbed the ladder. Rae Wynn-Grant and Alexandria Sutton are two very powerful women that the world needs to look out for. They spent a good chunk of their portion of the workshop talking to the group about their experiences and the influences that shape a PhD before they finalized at their respective institutions.

So if you are a girl or even a young woman who wants to pursue the sciences, GO AHEAD. There is only so much words can do to stop you. Once you are on your own and make the mental decision to live your life and live for yourself, you can do it!! There will be hard times. There will be trials. In the end, it will be worth it because you showed the world, and most importantly, yourself that you can do it!!

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A magnet I found on my adventures at BMMRO this summer 🙂

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