Glacier Retreat: Organize, Strategize, Dance!

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On October 14th through 15th, members of SEA 500 Women Scientists headed to Glacier, Washington in the Mt. Baker area to participate in our pod's first retreat. 

The retreat was focused on organizing future activities, strategizing our goals for the year, and envisioning how our pod can impact politics and policy in the future.  There was also dance!

 

Our first day began with an extended Strike Team meeting, followed by a period of facilitated discussion and a collective art project to express our vision of the future.

Next, Science Literacy team leader, Hannah Director, led us in a facilitated discussion around career goals, challenges, and hopes as working women in STEM and other research-related fields. 

Harvey helps with strategy.

Harvey helps with strategy.

After a day of strategy and discussion, we then joined  fellow scientist and Nia dance instructor, Jeanna Wheeler, in a dance party for some cathartic movement.

Next, we went on a hike through the woods, and had drinks and homemade chili for dinner in the main cabin. The rest of the evening was spent talking, laughing, sharing our latest news and activities and just getting to know one another a little better. 

Dr. Myhre leads our leadership workshop.

Dr. Myhre leads our leadership workshop.

On the second day of retreat, pod founder and climate scientist, Sarah Myhre, led us in a leadership workshop to discuss the cultural, social, and political landscape that women face when taking on a leadership role in our communities. We talked about how we envisioned making positive change not only in our daily lives, but as an entire pod.

We then went on our final hike in Glacier, visiting the river and meandering through the forest.

After we returned home, we had a final meeting to assign tasks from our large to-do list. Then we headed back to the city, ready to take on the next year!

End of Summer Wrap Up

Hi everyone! It has been a pretty crazy summer here at the Seattle pod. Lots of events, lots of actions, and lots of writing!

Hopefully you all had a chance to check out some of our public or private salon series events, join us at our socials, come to a member meeting, or join us supporting local and national social and political issues that concern our members. If not, here is an overview of what we have been up to.

We kicked off the summer with a picnic social with members and friends to celebrate the official launch of 500 Women Scientists. 

Next, we invited Dr. Sapna Cheryan to speak at our first summer salon event held at Ada's Technical Books and Cafe. In her presentation titled, Who Belongs? Cultural Stereotypes Influence Gender Disparities in Science and Technology, Dr. Cheryan discussed gender disparities in computer science and the impact of inaccurate stereotypes that deter women from entering the field.

Following this event, our teams hosted more events for members and for the public.

Our Science Policy Team's summer salon event, Civics for Scientists, helped educate our members about how we can get involved in policy and how we can bring our scientific expertise into the policy realm. 

Our Science Literacy Team has also been hard at work leading workshops for local summer day camps and hosting the summer salon event, Dealing With Controversyat Ada's Technical Books.There, Joy DeLyria discussed how to have productive conversations about controversial science topics.

Our Inclusivity & Diversity Team held a summer salon event for pod members titled, Science, Intersectionality, and Allyship. This event focused on how to be a better ally, what intersectionality means for scientists and feminists, and explore the nature of privilege. The team also held an Unloading and Problem-solving Social to talk about the challenges of misogyny in STEM.  

SEA500WS also got involved in the issues that matter to our members:

We  worked with Postdocs United to co-host, Making Science Work for All, where we got a chance to learn from our research colleagues about their experiences in organized labor as they work to improve the working conditions of graduate students, postdocs, and adjunct faculty.

Members also organized to help support I-940 De-Escalate Washington, gathering signatures at Bumbershoot. This initiative requires de-escalation, mental health, and first aid training for our local police; a change in standards for use of deadly force; and would add a “good faith” standard and independent investigation. We intend to continue to support De-Escalate through future member-led activities.

Our members were also involved in bringing our expertise to the public. SEA500WS submitted a written comment to the Washington State Utilities and Transportation Commission to stress the importance of Puget Sound Energy transitioning completely away from coal.

Furthermore, pod founder, Sarah Myhre, now has a weekly column in The Stranger on climate change communication. Her writing touches upon many subjects, including the summer heat wave and climate attribution and the need for honesty and integrity in our local climate conversations

We hope you all had a great summer and look forward to seeing you all this autumn! 

Scientific Literacy Team Update

The scientific literacy team has had a busy summer. Four members of the Seattle pod led workshops on oceanography and immunology at Launch, a summer day camp for kids in Seattle. Another member of our pod gave a tour of her lab for girls in the hands-on STEM camp run by the YWCA of Olympia. In September, we capped off the summer with an event at Ada’s Technical Books. Joy DeLyria gave a useful and inspiring presentation about having productive conversations about controversial science. One of her key messages was that facts alone are not going to convince people. This means engaging with and building relationships with people is just as important as knowing your science. 

Joy DeLyria discusses how to talk about controversial science.

Joy DeLyria discusses how to talk about controversial science.

Our plan going forward is to host one larger event per season. In the Fall, we’re going to focus on building relationships with organizations in our local community. We’ll provide resources for the whole Seattle pod about the value of reaching out to local groups, such as neighborhood schools, and how to do this. 

Our team meets on the third Tuesday of the month on Skype. Anyone who is interested in learning more about or joining the scientific literacy is welcome to attend. Please email hdirector7@gmail.com for more details.

-Hannah Director & Nicole Baker, Scientific Literacy Team Leads

Getting Involved in Policy: An Evening at Civics for Scientists

Science has never been apolitical. But since the November election, many scientists have become increasingly conscious of their role in the political sphere, and many are eager to become more actively involved. That may mean advocating for more science funding, providing scientific expertise in the policy-process, or even running for office (among many other possibilities).

For those of us who've spent more time in the lab than watching CSPAN or reading bills, getting involved in the political process can seem daunting. To help address that, our pod held a "Civics for Scientists" salon with the goal of clarifying how our members can become more involved in policy, and in what ways. Our event was hosted and facilitated by Dr. Heather Hill, professor in the Evans School of Public Policy and Governance at the University of Washington.

We began with an exercise designed to identify the policy areas we care about, the areas where we have scientific expertise, and the areas where these two spheres intersect. In other words, where can our individual areas of expertise potentially be useful in the policy world? We also discussed the roles we see ourselves playing as scientists and citizens in this process--when do we feel comfortable acting as scientific experts, and when should we take the role of a concerned (non-expert) citizen?

We then discussed the nuts and bolts of policy-making (also known as “everything you forgot from your high-school civics class”). Who makes policy? How do bills get passed? How is power balanced between the local, state, and federal governments?

Finally, we talked about ways that we, as scientists and citizens, can effectively participate in the policy-making process. We ended with discussing a few issues and upcoming events that our members might be interested in.

We hope to hold another version of this salon in the fall, so keep an eye out for that, and feel free to contact us if you'd like to participate in organizing or attending.

 

Making Science Work for All

On July 6th, SEA 500WS and Postdocs United co-hosted the event, Making Science Work for All: Organized labor and removing barriers to diversity.  This event focused on how organized labor has proven to be a powerful tool for improving accessibility and inclusivity in science.

We had a great crowd and a fantastic panel of union organizers that included:

  • Anke Schennink, President of the University of California Union of Postdocs (UAW 5810), which recently negotiated four weeks of paid parental leave
  • Theresa Aliwarga, a member of the Executive Board of the Union of Academic Employees at the UW (UAW 4121), where she fights for protection of international students
  • Louisa Edgerly, an organizer with SEIU Local 925 involved in the labor movement of adjunct faculty members at Seattle University

Each speaker shared their personal stories of their experiences organizing and how unions had improved working conditions for university faculty, grad students, and postdocs. After their short presentations, we had a fantastic and insightful Q&A session on the benefits and realities of organizing. In addition,  UW Postdocs United shared updates on their ongoing union-drive.

SEA 500WS understands that science is labor. We will continue our efforts to support our local unions representing scientists and researchers in the Pacific Northwest. Through these efforts, we will help build an equitable and inclusive workplace for ourselves and our region's future scientists.

Inspiring Future Scientists at Four Heroes Elementary School in Lakewood

I was a guest at Career Day at Four Heroes Elementary School in Lakewood. I got connected to one of the teachers through the marine biology undergrad advisor at the University of Washington, who sent out an email to the School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences (where I work) listserv.  The main theme the teachers wanted us to share was “what kinds of jobs are available to our students?”  We were asked to talk about (1) a basic career overview, (2) what education and training you needed for that particular career, (3) what they are learning now that can be used for that career, and (4) a hands on activity.  

Five different groups of third through fifth grade students cycled through my station during the morning. For my hands-on activity, I took advantage of the fact that my parents were cleaning out their attic and that I had acquired basically the entire sea-creature Ty© Beanie Baby collection when I was younger.  I had set a sea creature out on each desk before the students arrived, and they showed great excitement in choosing a particular seat. Then I asked them to identify the creature, throw it up to me in the front, and then talked a bit about each creature and the fact that marine biologists could study any of those animals.

Marine biologists study biology in the ocean.  So there were many research paths available to them as a marine biologist.  The kids were full of questions about the individual animals... What do sea horses eat?  Who would win in a fight between a dolphin and a shark?  How are dolphins and orcas cousins?  Could you grab a jellyfish by the bell and not get stung?  

It wasn’t exactly what I was supposed to spend the majority of my time on, but the kids were so curious and enthusiastic and that is exactly what being a scientist is: asking questions about the world, doing experiments, and making observations to learn new things.  At the end we talked briefly about how the scientific method (which they were currently learning about in Science class) could be used to learn about how many sharks are in the ocean, or the weather, or basically to solve any question they have about the natural world.  I only spent three hours there, but it was very refreshing to see the kids so interested. I think all of them would make great marine biologists one day.

--Nicole Baker, Member of Seattle 500 Women Scientists, co-leader of Science Literacy team

Scientific Literacy Update

The scientific literacy sub-team of Seattle 500 Women Scientists has started meeting bi-weekly via Skype. We have about 10 core members and would welcome more. We’ve focused our first couple of meetings on defining what we would like to achieve and the first steps to make that happen.

Defining our role:

Promoting Scientific Literacy:  At our first meetings, we’ve spent time discussing what our role should be and what success would look like. We see our main goal as promoting understanding of scientific ideas and demystifying the scientific process for the public. Non-scientists often don’t know about the years of data collection, debate about ideas, and careful elimination of other possibilities that happen before an idea gets accepted as scientific fact. We believe this contributes to the prioritization of trusting opinions from non-experts over facts communicated by experts.  We want to find ways to help the public understand the scientific process and provide them with some tools to think critically about the scientific and not-so-scientific things they hear.

Reaching the right audiences:  One of our goals as a group is to get “out of our bubble.” What we mean by this is we want to reach communities that are not already engaged in science, commonly due to a lack of resources prohibiting access (eg particular school districts) or belief that science does not affect them directly.  We’re brainstorming ways to meet people where they are and connect with diverse communities.

Building Connections & Being a Resource: Another important role for us is to lend our expertise when needed or solicited. When groups want to learn about the scientific consensus on an issue, we want to be available to share that information. We also want to show that scientists are real people who care about how their work affects other people.   

First Steps:

Scientific Communication Workshop: Talking about science isn’t easy. We want to give everyone tools for doing this successfully. So, in September, we will be hosting one of our salons focused on how to share science to the public.  Stay tuned for more details.

First Op-eds:  We would like to organize a group to go through the process of writing and submitting our first op-eds together.  We’ve discussed broadly focusing on how the scientific process works and why we trust it. We envision that each person will personalize her writing based on her area of expertise, values, and intended audience. Our plan is to initially target venues in communities we’re part of outside of science (so perhaps we won’t seem like outsiders trying to lecture or simply persuade people to change their minds on a particular issue). Examples might include hometown newspapers, religious community newsletters, service clubs, etc. We will move through the writing process together: brainstorming ideas, researching best practices, editing each other’s drafts, etc.

Getting Involved:

  • Participate in our scientific communication workshop
  • Think about if you might want to join us in writing an op-ed about the scientific process
  • Share your connections with us. If you’re part of a group that might be interested in hearing form a scientist, let us know.

-Hannah Director & Nicole Baker, Scientific Literacy Team Leads

Seattle Pod's Guest Editorial in The Stranger

This week, the U.S. federal government quit the Paris Climate Agreement. 

Like many of you, we are disappointed and frustrated. However, as scientists, it is more important than ever to channel these feelings into actions. Reach out, engage the public, and counter disinformation. But most importantly, communicate with integrity. 

This week, out Pod wrote a guest editorial to the Stranger titled, "Integrity and Scientific Reporting on Climate Change.” It’s a guide for our own communication and to help the public evaluate the integrity of other scientific voices. Yes, it does focus on climate change, but the guidelines apply to all sciences. In addition, over the summer the Seattle Pod will be sharing events members can participate in, such as our upcoming talk on gender disparities in science and technology.


Please read, share and this op-ed. Then help us to lead our nation in responding to climate change.

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.

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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.