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Female champions of science

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The global research project Ocean Tech, whose chief scientist is Bermuda's Gretchen Goodbody-Gringley, is encouraging more young women to study science and engineering.

The Ocean Tech team — the same group that is finalising the global Ocean Vet series featuring the work of the late Neil Burnie and Choy Aming — is leading a media campaign championing the group's leading female scientists and engineers.

The Ocean Tech mission aims to track and record marine species' behaviour to reveal why they use a given marine environment with a view to ensuring the protection of critical habitat.

The team will bring together pioneering autonomous underwater vehicles and technologies with the world's top scientists.

Dr Goodbody-Gringley of the Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences is joined on the team by chief engineer Amy L. Kukulya of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution for mission one which is being conducted in Bermuda's waters. Traditionally fewer women are working in the scientific, engineering and technological sectors with just 13 per cent of employees in these professions being female.

Unequal pay and lack of funding opportunities for women are among the contributory factors.

he American Economic Review published findings in a new study that confirms female scientists are still losing out on pay if they choose to have a family and often drop out of science altogether.

The UK's research councils report that men have a 3.8 per cent higher chance of success when applying for research grants in biological sciences.

Ocean Tech's communication director Catherine Capon said: “Public outreach, through our documentary, global exhibits, education programme and social media, is just as important to us as the scientific research.

“We're aiming to inspire the next generation about the importance of ocean conservation, whilst also introducing young people to charismatic and engaging female scientists that are working to justify marine protected areas around the planet.”

The humpback whale research projects of Ocean Tech will be led by Susan E. Parks who says that the lack of female senior scientists and mentors was her motivation for becoming a professor.

She said: “I wanted to be a senior scientist in the field to provide young women an example of a female role model.

“My graduate students have predominantly been women, and all of my graduates have continued in the field, either to higher degree programmes or successful careers in the field of marine mammalogy.”

Ocean Tech is also working with the Sylvia Earle Alliance on outreach.

Sylvia Earle, marine biologist, explorer and author, has also overcome challenges being a woman in science. She explained: “I fast discovered through starting [these] companies and through serving on the boards of Fortune 500 enterprises that it can be especially challenging for women who aspire to be leaders. But I now feel, all things considered, that never before has there been a time of greater opportunity, or need, for women in business, government, science, technology, engineering, art and math. Women are needed to help solve the biggest problem of all for the ocean and for the world — ignorance.”

Inspiring story: Ocean Tech's chief scientist Gretchen Goodbody-Gringley
Tough environment: Ocean Tech's chief engineer, Amy L. Kukulya of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
Taking the lead: the humpback whale research projects of Ocean Tech will be led by Susan E. Parks
Our liquid planet: the Ocean Tech team encounters a humpback whale in the waters surrounding Bermuda
Cutting-edge technology: Ocean Tech's REMUS launch from rigid-hull inflatable boat

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Published August 18, 2016 at 9:00 am (Updated August 18, 2016 at 12:41 pm)

Female champions of science

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