Women in GIS (Geographical Information Systems)L
Gender Inequality. Two very big words, with a very big impact. Contained within these fifteen letters are countless injustices; the wage gap, increased rates of domestic violence, educational disparities, inequality in the workforce, degradation, dehumanization, sexualization, and the overall subjugation to a society where women are reduced to conformity and fitting into a formula.
This March, I was able to witness a moment where those two words meant nothing. I had the opportunity to meet two women who never gave a thought to invisible barriers and never stopped pursuing their dream. I saw the example of women empowering other women to reach their full potential. I was given the opportunity to attend an event hosted at the Cellar Book Store in Canyon Crest where both Dr.Paulette Brown-Hinds and Dr. Dawn Wright spoke about their newest collaboration, the book, Women and GIS: Mapping Their Stories. The book is a collection of stories from 23 different women who empowered themselves and others by flourishing in the STEM field, specifically with geographic information systems.
The book, Women in GIS: Mapping Their Stories, has been a long time coming. The number of women pursuing careers within the STEM field has increased tremendously within the past few years; the newest wave of women empowerment and equality has broken down the walls that once prevented women from succeeding. Both Dr. Brown-Hinds and Dr. Wright stressed the fact that one should never set limitations for themselves during the conversation. The purpose of this book is to empower the women scientists, engineers, biologists, astronauts, aquanauts, chemists, and world-changers of tomorrow; the goal was to spark inspiration in a field that is so greatly overshadowed. aquanauts, chemists, and world-changers of tomorrow; to spark inspiration in a field that is so commonly overlooked.
During the conversation with both Dr. Brown-Hinds and Dr. Wright, the word “inspiration” was repeated throughout the night. While growing up in Hawaii, Dr. Wright had many inspirations and the motivation she drew from these important figures in science propelled her to study oceanography. Dr. Wright also attested to the power of Girl Scouts, as the organization was also a leading factor in helping her decide what she would like to study. To Dr. Wright, Girl Scouts is a perfect example of the growing support for women in the STEM field. Over the past years, Girl Scouts has rapidly increased the amount of STEM programming to the girls, pushing them to explore their curiosities about the world.
Towards the end of the night, I asked both Dr. Wright and Dr. Brown-Hinds where they see themselves and the women in STEM movement in the future. While Dr. Wright believes that foundational change has yet to happen, “we do see more girls becoming interested in STEM and it’s fantasticand I think that there are going to be more resources to empower and educate these girls.” She believes that we are the brink of a great change in the women empowerment movement. As for Dr. Brown-Hinds, “I hope to be on the forefront of the GIS application movement in the news media to help people connect it to things that they care about.”