Posts Tagged ‘equality’

posted by | on , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Celebrating Women: Three Scientists Who Made an Impact and Inspired a Career

by Stacy Knight

As a marine scientist and conservationist, I’ve been inspired by many of the scientific greats—Charles Darwin, Gregor Mendel, and Edward O. Wilson. But I am proud to have a long list of inspiring women to look up to, as well. Throughout history women have fought to be recognized, pushed to make a difference, and augmented the norm. As with many industries, women in science struggle with equity in pay, opportunities, and recognition. Despite these imbalances, many major scientific discoveries are attributed to women. Because March is an important month for women with Women’s History Month, International Women’s Day (March 8), and the anniversary of the 1913 suffrage march in Washington (March 3), DC EcoWomen is celebrating women all month long. I would like to celebrate the following amazing women who have inspired me throughout my career and pushed me to make a difference.

Dr. Euginie Clark was a Japanese American marine biology rockstar! Like me, she was drawn to the ocean through a place accessible to all Americans—the local aquarium. This experience inspired her to become SCUBA certified, and during her career she performed more than 70 deep submersible dives. She earned a Ph.D in 1950 and dedicated her career to studying fish and sharks. Her passion to debunk myths and fears about sharks earned her the nickname “Shark Lady”. She helped create Mote Marine Laboratory, which focuses much of their research on shark biology, including the presence of cancer in the species. Reading about this research as a kid fueled my never-ending curiosity of elasmobranchs.

Dr. Theodora Colburn was a trailblazer for endocrine disruption research. Her seminal research showing that small concentrations of chemicals can alter human reproductive, metabolic, and immune systems is chronicled in the novel Our Stolen Future. Born in 1927, she spent her early career as a pharmacist and went back to school at age 51 to earn an M.A. in freshwater ecology and a Ph.D. in zoology. In 1985 she “started” her career with a fellowship advising Congress on science. Over the next several decades she directed research on toxicology and human health and testified about the effects of chemicals in front of Congress. My early research in an endocrine disruption lab was encouraged by her work, but today, more than ever, her efforts to push  for Congress to make science-based decisions, and her commitment to disprove industry claims with scientific evidence is inspirational.

Dr. Amanda Vincent is a Canadian marine scientist and seahorse guru. In 1996 she co-founded Project Seahorse, an international, non-profit organization focused on seahorse conservation and community-based sustainable ocean ecosystems use. Dr. Vincent’s recognition that coastal communities rely on ocean resources served as the foundation for her innovative ideas integrating local communities and social science into conservation needs for seahorses, such as marine protected areas and small scale fisheries. Learning about her dedication to protecting the ocean without excluding humans from its use was a pivotal moment for me, which drew me to the sustainability and conservation field.

DC EcoWomen celebrates women every day and we’d love for you to celebrate women with us all March long by sharing on Twitter and Facebook using the hashtag #celebratingwomen and #dcecowomen. We’d love to hear who inspires you and how you’re celebrating women. Let’s start a conversation!

Each one of us has the power to inspire, and what better way than through our signature event: EcoHour. Join us on the third Tuesday of every month at Teaism Penn Quarter for an hour of inspiring stories about career growth from women in the environmental field.

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Stacy Knight is a marine scientist and a DC EcoWomen board member. She recently moved to DC to apply her diverse science skills to the environmental policy arena, and currently works for the Consortium for Ocean Leadership on the Political Affairs team. A science nerd at heart, she loves nature, the ocean, and photography. In her free time, she can be found enjoying local restaurants, sampling craft beers, and taking landscape photographs.

posted by | on , , , | Comments Off on Why Should You Care About Equity Over Equality in Environmental Work?

By Tamara Toles O’Laughlin

Among other things, the EcoWomen Community is a network of change agents and activists who take on the cause of healthy and balanced society. We convene to learn from one another, support individual development and sustain a growing community of professional women.

As a member of the DC chapter, I have firsthand knowledge of our collective skill in developing relationships for lasting growth, power and access for women across sectors.

This post compares two conceptual frameworks we apply to the distribution of wealth, opportunities and privileges that underlie our pursuit for a clean, healthy, and sustainable environment. To reach these noble aims, we must scrutinize our individual perspective by looking more closely at the ignoble status quo.

We all think we want equality, right? To avoid zero-sum outcomes we must look at the currency and costs for everyone involved. And that requires us to opt for equity instead.

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Equity and equality: do they mean what you think they mean?

Equality is the quality or state of being equal; the feature or status of having the same rights, social status, etc., whereas equity is demonstrating fair treatment of people within relative circumstances. Superficially, the ideas seem virtually identical– honorable, proper, even moral. However, in real life, the difference can contribute to detrimental outcomes for vulnerable people.

Let’s agree to think of equality as fairness, based on a presumption of sameness. It aims for equal treatment through equal access to a tool, medium or a resource. Whereas, equity is akin to justice, a more contextualized form of access; it considers the circumstances and background of everyone involved, exercising deference to each.

To think about it abstractly, equality is like the golden rule and equity is more like the platinum rule, if such a thing exists. Equity treats people how they would like with the understanding that resources, benefits, and burdens are meted out based on culturally derived and defined differences.

Metaphorically speaking, equality gives everyone a boat, whereas equity ensures that each boat, based on its location, is able to make it to shore in light of the conditions facing it.

Why should you care about equity over equality in environmental work?

Umm…to avoid silos. Environmental work does not occur in a closed universe, but in interrelated systems. As such, we work on improving the quality and impact of specific efforts to protect the whole environment and we do it as women of intersection, bringing our entire selves to the site of our resistance (air, conservation, oceans).

Women-Empowerment-Stock-PhotosIn order to make substantial impacts, we must see one another beyond silos in the context of our American life – in light of our intentional, persistent and inglorious history of unequal distribution.

In the rush to save the planet, we should avoid greenwashing the past, which is full of poor land use decisions, wasteful, destructive, polluting activity, and excessive burdens stacked on vulnerable and disenfranchised populations. We must look at it all, in policy and practice, in order to make it together into the future.

What does equity look like?

Acknowledgment, assessment and dismantling of privilege.

Equity as a practice involves habitual refocusing on those persons, communities, and groups at risk in a given action. It means taking steps to provide relative access to a right or a benefit that may be available to all, with the knowledge that all things are not equal.

Equity demands recognition of systematic privilege created for the benefit of some and a willingness to address the corresponding burdens for those that are not privileged. The disenfranchisement accumulates at the same rate as the advantage for those the system of privilege is designed to serve.

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Further, equitable practice means engaging the past. It means re-balancing norms that perpetuate present and continuing harms. And a sober assessment of policies that protect privilege and create inequity followed by corrective actions that dismantle the systems that safeguard the inequity.

Equity in green spaces

So, what does equity look like in our work? Program and policy initiatives that seek to understand the lived experience of disenfranchised groups and communities. This includes analyzing the current array of economic and environmental health, programs, as well as land use and transportation decision-making strategies.

Equity forces us to question the present day make up of advocates for under-served groups, and it takes cues from affected people when targeting issues of concerns on their behalf. Resulting methods should incorporate community knowledge into the baseline factors that determine where to allocate our dollars, what problems to address and who is employed to respond to identified problems. And all of this must come with a conscious excising of bastions of privilege and redistribution of resources as a matter of economic policy aimed at offsetting wrongs.

Environmental equity looks like parity, in processes that determine who bares the impacts and burdens of an action, project or an undertaking. It takes shape in policy, in the development and enforcement of legal boundaries that actively protect against shifting pollution or hazards from one group onto another.

In effect, it is environmental justice.

Equality in green spaces

To be clear, equality isn’t malevolence, it’s just not enough. Access, even equal access, can be a well-meaning and sincere disservice.

Unless it is coupled with equivalent ways and means, we cannot realize the dream of unfettered, healthy contact with nature. Unless we create space for environmental work that reaches the under-served, as they exist, and not as we would make them we waste our efforts developing climate justice tools, education and policy.

green harony imagesOtherwise, the work has no effect in spaces beyond our present influence. We run the risk of deepening injustice, and miss the opportunity to affect positive change. And isn’t the point of social justice work: to reach a future where we achieve sustainable access for everyone?

For more information and resources on these topics check out the following resources on privilege, and equity.

Tamara is an environmental advocate focused on civil society and justice issues. She holds degrees from The City College, City University of New York and two advanced degrees from Vermont Law School. Her hobbies include reading boring books about politics and neuroscience, writing diatribes about what she reads, traveling, and yoga. 

posted by | on , , , | Comments Off on Women in the Workplace – Working for Equality

As we celebrate another International Women’s Day, we recognize the many strides of achievement women have made in this world to achieve equality. But one place where we are still far behind, even in our own country, is equality in the workplace.

I have always thought of myself as a pretty good negotiator. When I was younger, I would seek out the local flea markets while on vacation and bargain with the retailers. It was like a game. My prized possession was a single-person hammock was priced at $150, and I walked away with it for $25.

But research and time has proven that women still get the short end of the stick in nearly every aspect of the working world. Paid 77 cents to the male dollar, and holding only 22 percent of all senior management positions, there is still a glass ceiling in this country that prevents women from rising to levels equal to men. The authors of the book “Women Don’t Ask” explain that this arises from the trials and challenges women face with negotiations. Women don’t ask for what they want, and when they do, they ask for less.

There seems to be a simple solution to this dilemma, suggested clearly by the book’s title: simply ask! Just get out of your chair, march to your boss’s office, and ask for what you wants.

Unfortunately, it’s not that easy. There are many social and cultural norms that may prevent a woman from asking for what she wants. What’s more, these norms also can negatively affect how she is perceived if she does ask. In the end, the average woman still ends up with less.

At the February bookclub, DC EcoWomen gathered at the ever-delightful Teaism to discuss this paradox.

We came up with several key messages and takeaways to remember.

1. Women need to recognize that the discrimination exists. It never occurs to most women that the starting salary at their first job is negotiable, or that if a promotion opens up they might have to ask instead of hoping their boss recognizes their talents. Do research, be upfront, and ask for what you want instead of hoping that you will get what you deserve.

2. Men need to recognize this, too. Too many dismiss gender discrimination because they don’t see it themselves. But much of this discrimination exists on a subconscious level.

3. Expectations are key. Many research studies have shown that people fulfill what they think is expected of them. If you are expected to do well, you probably will. If you are expected to fail, you are much more likely to do so.

4. Social gender norms are instilled even in early childhood. The expectations stem back to the chores, games, and mannerisms in childhood. When dividing up chores, girls are more likely to do housework – and not get paid – and boys are more likely to do outdoor tasks that they can even do for their neighbors for money. From the outset, many girls and boys are taught different things about the value of what they do.

5. Aggregate your assets. It is important to walk into a negotiation know what you are worth and be able to communicate that to your superior. It is also important to know for yourself, for self-confidence. One really intelligent suggestion that came from the bookclub is to create a “good-jobs folder” in your email account; every time someone sends you an email saying you did well, put it in that folder to reference later.

6. Feminine attributes have value in the workplace. One of the issues that arises when women do negotiate is the risk of seeming over-competitive and aggressive. To overcome this, it is often suggested that women ensure to be friendly, willing to negotiate, and be a team player. To emphasize that she cares about the good of the company, along with her self-interests. In my opinion, these traits are good, and are valuable for any gender.

7. Things are changing. At the end, the ladies felt hopeful. As more women excel in the workforce, there will be a gradual shift in values and norms. To reinforce positivity and work for the benefit of the whole can only have a positive impact in the workforce.

The flea market was a situation where I knew the rules, and was expected to haggle. So I did. Then if I walked away with a great deal, it was fantastic, and if not, it didn’t really matter – I had fun. Matters of business are not so clear, and often have more riding on the line than a hammock-chair. In this case, many things need to change.

The first step to social change is awareness. For now, women can learn about the social norms and use them to their advantage. They can recognize that they might be missing opportunities by not asking, and learn how to negotiate in a way that works for them.

Eventually, expectations will change until equality is the norm. It will take time, but time is always necessary to achieve something so valuable.

If you’re looking to educate yourself further, “Women Don’t Ask” co-author Sarah Laschever has a website of tools, education, and resources for women and negotiation. Check it out here: http://saralaschever.com/womendontask/Tools_Data%26Links.html