Science and Policy Team Update

The Science Policy subgroup of the Seattle 500 Women Scientists group has had 2 and 2/2 meetings: 1 shared google hangout, 1 3 person pre-meeting-meeting, and 2 brainstorming and planning sessions (these are the the full meetings!).  As we try to get our feet under us, these are the issues we are grappling with over and over again.

Finding our niche

One thing that unites the women who have come to the science policy subgroup meetings is a feeling of being overwhelmed by the news and wanting to take action - on basically everything!  With a core group of ~10 people, though, we recognize that we will have to narrow our focus in order to have an impact.  At our first meeting we decided to focus on a single short, medium, and long term initiative to try to build capacity and momentum before broadening our efforts.

Plugging into existing expertise

While the outpouring of action in the face of threats to science is inspiring, it also means that we have to be careful not to replicate the work that others have already been doing.  One of the action items we assigned from our first meeting was to do an inventory of our networks - who are we connected to that is already doing this work?  Can they advise or collaborate with us?  Should we focus on supporting them instead of starting something new?  Are there times where we should just get out of the way?

Getting everyone together

We spent a few weeks after establishing our subgroup struggling to find a time to meet.  When we did get together it was clear that all the brainstorming documents in the world couldn’t replace the energy and support we drew from being together. We spoke with emotion about the isolation we feel trying to push forward with research while feeling pulled towards advocacy.  We spoke honestly about the risks we were willing to take with our careers.  We pushed each other to consider the consequences of our choices on others.  An authentic and powerful movement will require these conversations, but the reality is that for many of us they still aren’t possible over skype or social media.  Finding balance between coming together and the everyday pressures on our time and energy will definitely be something we will have to focus on going forward.  

Want to get involved?

Here are the initiatives the Science Policy team is working on right now.  Please get in touch if you have suggestions or want to get involved!

  1. Summer Science Series - These monthly summer salons (starting in June!) will focus on providing tools and information for members who want to get involved in science policy but aren’t sure where to start.  We’re planning a “Civics for Scientists” training session and a session about challenges women face in academia.  Other session topics coming soon!

  2. Network mapping - Our members are already doing great work in the Seattle area and we want to know what they’re working on!  If you are connected with a group you think 500 Women Scientists should partner with, know about, or learn from, please get in touch!

  3. Evidence-based policy - Central to our group’s mission statement is a call to hold lawmakers to evidence-based decision making.  But what exactly does that mean?  We are working with social scientists to develop a concrete set of principles that lay out best practices for the use of scientific evidence in policy making.

   Hannah Gelman

   hannah.gelman [at] gmail [dot] com

May Day is Here!

May Day is next Monday! This is the annual May Day march for immigrant rights hosted by El Comité and the May 1st Action Coalition in Seattle. While we have not currently organized ourselves as a group for this march (it has been a very busy month), we encourage members to join in to support immigrant rights in Seattle. The recent immigration policies and travel bans have harmed our fellow science colleagues and negatively impacts our work. 

If you would like to join the march, please know that UAW 4121 welcomes SEA 500 Women Scientist members to join them at Red Square at 11AM to head to Judkins Park together. You can find our more about their meet-up time and place on their Facebook event page.

Please also read and sign UAW's call for University of Washington to endorse May 1st actions. This petition asks President Cauce to fight against:

  • The Trump Executive Orders banning travel by international students and scholars from Muslim-majority countries 
  • Threats to end or limit the OPT and other programs and visas (such H1B) for guest workers
  • Overt and covert racial and gendered violence, and all other manifestations of systemic oppression that target and threaten many marginalized communities, including immigrants, people of color, LGBTQ people, Jews, Muslims, and anyone else susceptible to discriminatory policies
  • Cuts to funding of science, arts, humanities (NIH, DOE, EPA, NOAA, NSF, NEA, NEH)
  • Denial of climate change and defunding of climate agencies
  • Threats to health coverage for all
  • Threats to reproductive justice, including breastfeeding, access to prenatal care, the ability to make choices about one’s reproductive health, etc.

Have a powerful May 1st!

Seattle Pod Marches for Science

Very happy to share with you some photos from the March for Science. If you have photos with us to share, please submit them in the comments below!

Our Seattle pod started the day early at 9am. We met at a member's apartment in Capitol Hill with bags of lab coats, buttons, flyers, flower crowns, flower pins, signs, and-most importantly-coffee and donuts. 

We then headed down to our meeting spot near the March, where we me up with our friends at UAW 4121...and shared some donuts.

We then headed down to the March and unraveled our banner.

We met up with friend and fellow Seattle pod member, Louisa, working at the SEIU 925 table, and lined up at the rally with the UAW 4121 and the University of Washington School of Social Work (and three cheers for Judy for being our main coordinator!). 

As we started to march, our own Dr. Jillian Holtzmann ran into some fellow Ghostbusters!

Then we marched and talked to fellow marchers about our group, handing out flyers along the way.

We finished up at Seattle Center, then went to Lower Queen Anne for beer and giant pretzals.


We are so proud of all of our members that have helped us to get our pod up and running. Your energy, enthusiasm, and passion are why we have our mission statement, our teams, and our new and emerging coalitions. We can't wait to start organizing the next set of activities, events, and actions as a pod.  In other words, you are some seriously kick-ass scientists!

More Reasons to March for Science

We are marching for many reasons on Saturday. Seattle pod member, Judy Twedt, wrote a fantastic medium post titled, "When I March for Science, I March for Workers." This piece describes her work with labor unions and emphasizes the importance of making science accessible to everyone.

As Judy states,

"When I march for science, I march for a vision of society that embraces our hard-earned knowledge about the physical world, that promotes a diverse body of scientists, science educators, and science communicators, and that demands that our lawmakers put evidence above ego when making decisions that affect ordinary Americans."

Thank you, Judy, for writing this statement and we look forward to marching with you on Saturday!


KUOW Features Two of Our Members!

This week, two of our Seattle pod members, Sarah Myhre and Nicole Baker, were featured in the KUOW piece, "Reasons to March for Science. Or Not." Be sure to check out the interview with Sarah and Nicole!

Many of our members will be Marching for Science this Saturday to raise our voices on different science-related issues. These include support for science funding, support for marginalized scientists, and support for evidence-based social, health, and environmental policies that are centered on values of equity, justice, and beneficence for all.

If you are a member of SEA 500 Women Scientists and are making your voice heard in the public sphere, let us know!

Crafting for Justice

On April 14th, Seattle pod had their Craft-a-palooza Party, making signs and flower crowns for the March for Science.

Harvey surveys the craft materials.

Harvey surveys the craft materials.

Pizza was ordered...

Logos were ironed onto lab coats...

Cats engaged...

And flower crowns and signs were made.

Harvey inspects the work.

Harvey inspects the work.

Why We March for Science

Since the March for Science began, many of our members have been extremely concerned about the problematic discourses that have come from the March for Science organization and many of their supporters. These discourses attempt to shut down marginalized scientists (#marginsci) and underrepresented minority (#URM) voices, dismiss social sciences and social scientists, and claim that the march is not-and should not-be political.

After discussing these issues in one of our meetings in February, two members wrote a response to these  discourses. This response was open for comment and shared with our membership to educate about the March for Science conversations, support #marginsci and #URM, set goals for ourselves as a local pod, and state why we are marching for science. 

So when we say we are marching for science, that means we march to support: 

  • Funding for the sciences- no budget cuts to NOAA, EPA, NSF, NIH, NEA, and NEH
  • Listening to and taking actions in support of marginsci and URM voices in science
  • Fair and equitable opportunities in the sciences
  • Stronger science education in schools
  • Listening to the evidence on climate change, social inequality, women’s health, etc. 
  • Our science colleagues and students affected by the Muslim ban

500 Women Scientists Write Seattle Times OpEd

On February 20th, the Seattle Times published the OpEd, As EPA head, Scott Pruitt must act on climate change, written by Seattle pod members Sarah Myhre, Jane Zelikova, and Kelly Fleming. The authors challenged Pruitt to use his position to accept climate science and work in the best interest of all the citizens of the United States. 

As the authors state:

Continuing to “debate” the existence and causes of climate change hurts the American people. It is intellectually dishonest. It is irresponsible. Here is the truth about science: You cannot pick and choose the science that is convenient for you. You cannot reject physical science about climate change, only to enjoy the computer in your pocket, the clean water in your bathroom, or the antibiotics at the pharmacy.

We encourage more scientists to speak out in support of evidence-based environmental policy.