Hi @egardner! I would love to be engaged in the Women in Paleontology forum. I am very fortunate to have supportive mentors who are both female and male, but I think it is difficult to completely escape gender-based discrimination as a woman in science or as a woman in a field that has so long been dominated by men.
I recently finished reading The Fossil Hunter by Shelley Emling, which details the life of Mary Anning, who faced blatant discrimination from the geological community during her lifetime despite being a leader in the field of paleontology. While we have obviously come a long way since Anning’s time, subtler forms of gender discrimination and “unconscious biases” still exist – e.g. primarily men in highest positions, being interrupted/spoken over during presentations, prevalence of “boys’/men’s club” mentality, being passed over on opportunities, being excluded from certain groups/meetings, etc. I think one of the most important ways we can combat gender discrimination in paleontology and in STEM disciplines in general is through educating and mentoring a younger generation to show them examples/role models of women pursuing and succeeding in these areas. I grew up with a number of great women role models (my mom has a master’s degree in occupational therapy; my favorite biology and calculus teachers in high school were both women; I received a BS in math at a school with more female math professors than male; my graduate advisor was a woman; and I’ve had women supervisors and technical mentors since joining the workforce). I think these experiences certainly shaped me as a person and also gave me an understanding growing up that I could pursue a career in any discipline that interested me, whether it was in the sciences or elsewhere.
Please let me know how I join you for the first Women in Paleo webinar. This sounds like a great discussion!