WICGE Meeting at Coasts and Ports 2017

Apologies on the delayed posts. We’ve been busy! June was a big month for conferences in the Coastal Geosciences/Engineering space.  We posted last week on our event at Coastal Dynamics in Denmark. This week we’ll tell you a bit about our big event we had at Coasts and Ports in Cairns (Australia).

Coasts and Ports conference series has welcomed the initiatives of the WICGE to promote more women into (and retain in) the Coastal Geosciences and Engineering fields. Hannah, Shari and myself were part of the LOC committee this round.  As part of the LOC we organised a formal WICGE event as part of the conference program and we also held our first WICGE award for best paper by a female lead author.  All of our initiatives were well received and the CP19 committee is already looking into similar events for 2 years time.

 

Similar to the Coastal Dynamics events, we hosted 3 talks on a variety of topics. This was followed by canapes and drinks for social networking. We had a wide range of attendees, which was great to see and the talks sparked some great discussion. The chair of the conference, Tom Baldock, opened the event with a short thank you to our sponsor, KBR. Hannah Power then gave an overview talk on WICGE in their first year, providing the statistics we’ve collected from our surveys in the past 18 months since the launch of WICGE in March 2017.  We are working on getting these results out to you all in the near future. We have our work cut out for us but there are lots of great opportunities for positive steps forward. Events like this are just one example.

 

 

Kristen gave the second talk of the evening, “Mentors, or something like that…”. She described her own journey from small girl in Canada to her present position as a Senior Lecturer at UNSW in Civil Engineering. She described the ups and downs that come in everyone lives, but the huge impact and value that positive mentors/role models have had on her own success.  Reflecting on her own career to date, she was able to pull up positive influences in every stage of her career move, most often she had a few, with at least 1 female, but admitted that the females were harder to find. She reflected on her current role, and the mentoring she now aspires to provide to younger students/staff, particularly females, because she saw how invaluable that was to her own career. Kristen finished off by challenging all of us to be a mentor and a mentee. Find someone you can make better and find someone that can make you better. She closed with a beautiful quote from Maya Angelou.

In order to be a mentor, and an effective one, one must care. You must care. You don’t have to know how many square miles are in Idaho, you don’t need to know what is the chemical makeup of chemistry, or of blood or water. Know what you know and care about the person, care about what you know and care about the person you’re sharing with.”

Maya Angelou

Our final talk of the evening came from the chairWomen of the National Committee on Coastal and Ocean Engineering, Ms. Tanya Stuhl. Her inspirational talk was titled : ?Why do we need more women in coastal and how do we facilitate change?”  Reflecting on her own career and her role as chairWomen, she sees how we can promote change at the variety of stages in our careers and at each of these stages we have a duty to encourage and teach the younger generations. 

(1) In our youth – be active, seek mentorship, join committees as this is when you have time.

(2) 3-10years out of university – push for your own training but also start to seek out ways you can mentor (go to high schools and encourage girls to consider STEM careers).

(3) 10-20 years out of university – mentor and be mentored. Push for change.

(4) 20+ years – be that figure/mentor for the next generation.

 

When asked about why we should push for more women in Coastal Geosciences and Engineering, her answer is spot on.

1. Women use the coast. We should have a say in how it is researched, valued, managed, developed and modified.

2. Why restrict our capacity to find the best people to only 50% of the population?

3. Engineers work collaboratively. General diversity in approaches to problem solving and communication will lead to better outcomes as a team.

Her full talk is included in the following post and well worth a read.

 

Thank you again for everyone that attended and participated in discussion at the event and the remainder of the week. We look forward to more events like this at many conferences.