I am passionate about making natural science courses and fields accessible to all students, regardless of their background, whether that background means they are less prepared for college or they are part of a minoritized group, historically under-represented in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) fields.
Role of Mentoring & Role Models to Persistence in STEM. Women continue to be largely under-represented in the geosciences. Female role models and mentors can play an important role in the lives of female students, especially when choosing and committing to a career path. I am part of an interdisciplinary team of researchers examining strategies to recruit and retain women in earth and environmental sciences. We developed PROGRESS – a project Promoting Geoscience Research, Education, and Success. We recruited first- and second-year college women interested in earth & environmental sciences (from any STEM major) from institutions in two geographic regions. During their first year, these women were invited to a regional mentoring workshop to 1) learn more about geoscience careers, 2) meet peers with similar academic interests, 3) gain better self-awareness of their values, strengths, and liabilities for a career in the geosciences, and 4) expand their psychological, social and institutional resources for a career in the geosciences. After the workshop, the program participants have access to peer mentoring and resources through a web center and through a closed Facebook group. We are excited that the data illustrate the value of mentoring and role models. See our recent papers: Hernandez et al. 2017 PLOSOne, Hernandez e al. 2018 Geosphere (highlighted in Science in the Editor’s Choice section).
This January and February, thanks to supplemental funding from NSF, we will be running a series of one day workshops in Colorado and North Carolina to test the efficacy of various pieces of our weekend workshop, in an effort to improve scalability. If you are an undergraduate women interested in a career in the geosciences and at one of our partner institutions please sign up now (sign ups will close mid-January)!
Grass-root, non-profit organizations provide critical networks for women. As a contribution to a Geological Society of America’s Memoir Series (214) on Women and Geology: Who Are We, Where Have We Come From, and Where Are We Going? and the Pardee Session at the 2018 GSA Annual Meeting, I wrote a chapter on the role of community building in promoting and retaining women in earth and environmental sciences with Erika Marin-Spiotta and Aisha Morris.
It takes a Village. I spent my junior sabbatical (thank you CC!) working at INSTAAR in Boulder and had the opportunity to collaborate with amazing humans from 500 Women Scientists and other organizations and institutions to think about how to Be the Change in Global Change Science (with support from the Aspen Global Change Institute). It was a truly inspiring weekend and I am excited to see what comes out of the group. Many of the participants also took part in an Union Session at the 2018 Fall AGU meeting – examining implicit bias in the geosciences.
I am also part of the ADVANCEGeo project – a partnership between the Earth Science Women’s Network, Association of Women Geoscientists (AWG), and the American Geophysical Union (AGU) – aimed at improving workplace climate across geosciences. We have adapted bystander intervention training for many of the informal situations specific to earth and environmental science work – from conference halls to remote field situations (trainings provided at individual institutions and national meetings). We are currently working on a train the trainer module and our about to release what we believe will be the largest survey of the geoscience community regarding workplace climate.