International Women and Girls in Science Day
11th February 2020
Science and gender equality are vital for both the achievement of internationally agreed development goals and for the creation of new innovative approaches to our ever-changing climate. Today marks the 5th International Day of Women and Girls in Science Assembly. This event aims to bring together a variety of women in powerful positions all over the world as well as female scientific experts and girls in science advocates to encourage and inspire young girls and women into science.
This blog looks at a handful of our great women here at 4EI – how they got into the scientific world and what they have been involved in, to exhibit the many different ways women and girls can get into science and hopefully inspire others to consider careers within the industry.
All of us here at 4EI are incredibly grateful for all the guidance and support we were offered whilst we paved our way into the Scientific world. As a result, we would love to offer support or more information/guidance for any women/girls considering getting into science. If this post has inspired you or you’d like to hear more information about our journeys, please do not hesitate to get in touch with any of the women mentioned in this post. Contact email addresses will be after the names of each person mentioned in this blog.
I started my career as a cartographer at Exmoor National Park. It was while creating their Geographical Information System (GIS) that I uncovered some original remote sensing research and I was hooked straight away! I’ve been working in the geospatial and remote sensing Industry for 30 years now, and was a founding director of EarthSense, a leader in accurate air quality monitoring, modelling and data. Whilst there I became a finalist of Innovate UK’s first Women In Innovation awards and have been proud to represent UK female innovators across the country. Since then, I have worked as the Regional Ambassador for South West and South Wales- helping to encourage space related business development in our region. I was tasked with raising awareness of ESA Business Applications and to encourage and support SME’s in accessing the funding, which is aimed at developing new, sustainable services using space-based technology. This involved using satellite capabilities such as location, navigation and timing services, satellite communications and Earth Observation (EO) as well as human space flight. I’ve always been passionate about ensuring young people, particularly in our rural areas on Exmoor, have opportunities in understanding why Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics (STEAM) are important. I have helped local rural schools in accessing funding for robotics, science and technology through working with the Ogden Trust and, with Somerset County Council support, we established a Lab for 10 local primary schools to access, enabling the children to access STEM and university led teaching support. I came across the 4EI team when working as the ESA Business Applications ambassador – I was impressed by their in-house capability, their innovative nature and their potential for creating new products and services. We joined forces in November and we re-positioned the company to support a wider mission of providing intelligence derived from satellite data to meet the needs of our rapidly changing world.
I have always been interested in science from a very young age. Even when I was 4 and everyone used to reply with ‘princess’ when they were asked the classic ‘what do you want to be when you grow up’ question – I wanted to be a weather lady. Although growing up I never knew exactly what I wanted to do as a profession, I always knew I wanted to be in science.
Growing up in a rural area, schools didn’t tend to encourage young girls into science or further education to the point where I was told by a teacher to ‘explore options because university probably wasn’t for me’. If anything, maybe this did me a favour because I was more determined than ever to work hard, get good grades and get into uni. During GCSEs and A-Levels I had a really good Geography teacher who inspired me to undertake a degree in the subject to widen my knowledge. At university I loved learning about prehistoric climate change and how we can apply palaeoclimatology and pre-historic settlement patterns to similar challenges we face today -this led to me undertaking a masters degree in Environmental Archaeology.
Whilst undertaking my masters degree, I helped Donna with an ESA event where I met 4EI. I became really interested with the work they were doing, and how this can be used/applied to climate resilience. I joined 4EI a month after completing my masters degree. Within my position as Business Development Coordinator here at 4EI, I help with marketing to ensure our products are presented to the world for a variety of markets – geared at aiding climate resilience- but I also help with market research/reaching out to a variety of companies and authorities in an attempt to understand their needs within the climate crisis. My favorite thing about my job is that I am able to apply the variety of knowledge I gained whilst at University to real life situations, enabling real change.
When I was younger I was obsessed with two things: geography and weather. Lucky for me, weather and maps go hand in hand. I loved looking at the detailed weather maps in our local newspaper and then comparing what was predicted to what actually happened – especially when thunderstorms were forecast. I also enjoyed looking through historical climate data to see if I could find patterns. I never realized my dream of becoming a meteorologist, but maps and weather have thankfully been part of my entire career!
I earned a degree in Homeland Security in college and was eventually recruited by the US Department of Defense, under the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (formerly the National Imagery and Mapping Agency) – a perfect fit for me. NGA allowed me to pursue my love of maps, and introduced me to the field of remote sensing. I didn’t have a technical degree, but was able to prove my aptitude for math and science during the interview process – and then got a fast education in satellites, sensors imagery processing/exploitation. I am extremely fortunate I was able to blend things I was passionate about with defending the US in the middle of two overseas conflicts for many years.
4EI allows me to bring all of my experiences together, and explore topics that I’ve loved my entire life. With 4EI’s focus on climate resilience – I can go from helping one country in the defense sector to helping all countries on the globe defend themselves against the negative effects of climate change!
My interest in science stems from a long-standing passion for wildlife photography. When I was in sixth form a truly inspiring photography teacher introduced me to how fun, yet powerful, photography can be. Wildlife photography enables me to document and experience the importance of global biodiversity and the seemingly never-ending struggles the natural world is facing.
This initial interest consequently fueled my decision to study a bachelors degree in Natural History followed by a postgraduate degree in Conservation and Biodiversity; to learn about the subjects I was photographing and the best ways to conserve them. Although photography remained a major focus for me throughout these courses, my interests quickly expanded into the broader use of imagery and image-based technologies, such as 3D coral mapping, throughout conservation and research methods. Within my masters degree, I designed and led my own research project looking at developing methodologies and initiating the use of low-cost drones in developing country protected area conservation in The Philippines. This experience highlighted to me that aerial imagery, and technologies such as mapping, are invaluable tools in working towards conserving the natural world, leading me to seek my current role with 4 Earth Intelligence.
My role at 4EI is a Remote Sensing Analyst, working on terrestrial and coastal habitat mapping. I find it to be a truly rewarding job to be able to contribute to the conservation of the areas we’re mapping by providing important spatial data to our clients. I’ve already progressed my mapping skills in an industry setting more than I imagined, and it’s safe to say, I’m thoroughly enjoying my first experience of working within science after many years of hard work in education to get me here.
I enjoyed science at school and particularly liked how the things I learned in science classes linked to what I was being taught in Geography. Having a keen interest for the environment and intrigued how the world worked, choosing a BSc Geography course seemed the most natural and perfect course to take at university. I have worked on scientific surveying out in the field in Costa Rica, Madagascar and Brazil which has definitely motivated me to pursue a scientific career. Being introduced to GIS and Remote Sensing at University gave me an insight to how I could use my appreciation for the planet through scientific research.
I am currently completing my placement year with 4EI, as part of my undergraduate degree. I wanted to develop my GIS and Remote Sensing ability and after being here for 5 months I can confidently say I have learned so much. Joining a team of highly motivated and enthusiastic experts had been hugely beneficial for my personal and scientific development and I’m excited to see where it may take me after university.