The research vessel Sikuliaq is docked at its homeport in Seward on Saturday, July 15, preparing for a research cruise through the Beaufort Sea on which oceanographer Dr. Carin Ashjian served as chief scientist. After the recent conclusion of the cruise, Dr. Ashjian was one of eight female scientists to participate in a discussion on women in science, organized by the conservation nonprofit Cook Inletkeeper, at the Kenai Fine Arts Center on Friday.

Female scientists talk about women in science

Eight research and technical professionals gathered at the Kenai Fine Arts Center on Friday to publicly discuss a statistical imbalance in their own population — the under-representation of women in the scientific, engineering, and medical fields they were all part of.

The conservation nonprofit Cook Inletkeeper organized the event. Host and Inletkeeper board member Benjamin Jackinsky said it was inspired by the women’s march demonstrations in January and nationwide march for science rallies in April, as well as smaller-scale events closer to home. One was an upcoming trip for Cook Inletkeeper’s science director Sue Mauger, who in February 2018 will be traveling to Antarctica with an international group of about 80 female scientists. She was selected in May to take part in Homeward Bound, a leadership training program for women in science, and since then she’s been having online meetings and discussions with other scientists in the program — an experience she said has made her aware of gender’s influence in personal and professional settings.

“When you begin to pull apart some of those long-held cultural dynamics, you realize there’s a whole other layer of things going on, well beyond the words at table,” Mauger said. “We need to see that stuff.”

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