New England Women in Science Join Thousands in Signing Pledge
STANDISH, Maine -- It's a movement that began over concerns about how women were being labeled and treated during the presidential campaign. Now it has turned into an effort to steer young women toward careers in science and technology, while also sending a message to President Trump.
The group "500 Women Scientists" began when four female scientists expressed their worries to each other. They reached out to friends and colleagues hoping to get 500 signatures on a pledge of support. They have now collected nearly 17,000.
Among the New England educators to sign on to the letter is Assistant Professor Emily Lesher with the Department of Natural Sciences at Maine's St Joseph's College in Standish.
"This current administration does not have the respect for science that previous administrations have had,” Lesher said. "The evidence, for example, is picking somebody like Scott Pruitt to head the E.P.A. when he's shown throughout his career to be really antagonistic to the goals of the E.P.A."
A letter from the group published in Forbes magazine contained several suggestions - including appointing accredited science advisers in government to promote evidence-based policy; protecting the environment, clean air and water; making science education a priority from pre-K to college; and putting policies in place that lead to equal pay for women.
Nichole Barger is an associate professor of ecology at the University of Colorado. She said there are many who are still concerned about Trump's election, but she's convinced that could be turned into something positive.
"I think what we're seeing is more engagement of girls and women in science. And I think there was a feeling that it could be set back,” Barger said. “But I think what we're seeing is a surge forward of interest."
Jane Zelikova, a co-founder of 500 Women Scientists, said they're urging communities to start mentoring programs for young women and girls.
"Well, that's one way we can ensure that the younger generations that have been feeling like they're not welcome in science have mentors that look like them, that they can look up to and actually work with to further their own interest in science and eventually, make science a career,” Zelikova said.