Women of Science: Doing the work of science in the real world
by Mackenzie Moran Close your eyes, and imagine a scientist. Who do you see? I could make a few educated guesses, but whatever stereotype you chose, I’m here to break it. What if I told you that the field research being conducted in the Alaskan wilderness, in an ecosystem facing the consequences of climate change in real time, was driven by women, clad in waders, trucker hats, and raincoats? Well, it’s the truth. The Copper River Delta is a dynamic ecosystem that is suffering the consequences of climate change in real time. In the face of decline, female scientists have been taking on the challenges of the Alaskan wilderness in pursuit of understanding something they love, the outdoors. While field research has historically been conducted by men, these women represent a new generation of scientists that are changing the way we think about science, and who it is accessible to. To conduct research in a setting like the Chugach National Forest, scientists need to be tough and resourceful, as this landscape is among one of the last pristine landscapes left in the world. That means it is wild and unpredictable, with challenges that could put researchers lives at risk if they are unprepared. Their knowledge is their power; brute strength plays no role in the game of science. It is all about the will of human curiosity and the questions asked. That is their motivation. The scientific women in Cordova are at the forefront of a movement, a transition away from what society traditionally knows as science, into a new way of practice that creates an avenue to further gender inclusivity and willingness to give power to the female mind.
USFS Biological Technician Elizabeth Camarata
"It never really occurred to me, until recently, that I was a woman in science. It just occurred to me that I was person in science. Now, as I’ve gotten older, I’ve come to understand that it means so much more to be a female in this field." -ELIZABETH CAMARATA
Carmen Harjoe
OSU Graduate Student in Biology
"How cool is it that I have a job that allows me to experience these places that most people will never see in their lifetime? That’s what keeps me going, just my love for being outside." -CARMEN HARJOE
Melissa Gabrielson
Biological Technician, Chugach Division of the USFS
"When I came to Cordova, I had no idea that there were so many women between the science center and the copper river watershed project, and the forest service and even the state that are in the science field. And it's a really great support system, and we all kind of back each other up, and I just think that it's really really cool to see that, cause you don't see that in a lot of places." -MELISSA GABRIELSON
"I don’t think of it so much as a feminist issue, so much as a humanist issue where I wish that the guy who told me I enunciate too much doesn’t live in a world where it’s threatening for anyone that a woman speaks clearly and is eloquent." -KATRINA HOFFMAN, President of the Prince William Sound Science Center
Mackenzie Moran in action; this piece is part of a larger 25 page thesis titled "Women of Science." She interviewed and shadowed 9 women scientists in the field.