Instead of talking about some randomness about dinosaurs or fossils that I found neat or interesting, I thought I would talk about the webinar I watched yesterday a little bit. Yesterday during the mental health awareness campaign (sorry for the mindless tweets and ‘shout-outs’ to raise money), I mentioned that women in STEM programs are at a disadvantage compared to their male counterparts when it comes to moving forward in their studies and careers. This is due to many factors and only through educating others and advocating for equal pay and respect can we make a difference.
Well, yesterday was also the start of the Series 2 webinars on myfossil.org I enjoy watching these to learn extra skills and gain insight into the professional world of paleontologists. What makes series 2 so special for me is that it is dedicated to shining a spotlight on women. As it stands I don’t have a mentor and it is nice to hear about how other women started their careers. There is always a Q&A session where you get to ask questions directly and have them answered, a chat box where you can interact with other viewers, and of course everything can be re-watched on the website afterwards if you need to slow things down and ‘pause’ for note-taking purposes.
Yesterday I heard Taormina (Tara) Lepore give a presentation. What I really enjoyed was seeing a timeline of how she got to where she is now. She mentioned that it is OK to step away and take a professional job outside your field of interest to pay the bills if needed. Unpaid internships and volunteer opportunities are great resume builders but they do little for the wallet. For me, this stung a little. I hadn’t imagined that when I graduate I may not get a paying job in my field right away.
The more I thought about it, the more it sunk in. There are not any local fossils that I want to dedicate my career to studying. I learned that it is possible to bring in fossils from other localities but I would need to be affiliated with a place that could accept the liabilities such as a university or museum. I may not be able to obtain a position right away, may be required to move, or may have to wait for contract opportunities to arise. Unless I can gain more preparation experience in the next year of university, I won’t have the minimum required hours to obtain entry-level work behind-the-scenes at the ROM that pays. I will have to volunteer to make up the difference.
Tara Lepore also gave great advice to budding enthusiasts, one of the attendees was only 11 years old. It is great to have strong women to look up to at that age and acknowledge them. When I was young I had the opportunity to hear Dr. Roberta Bondar (first CDN female in space and esteemed neuroscientist) speak at my Girl Guides camp. This is what drove me to start my university career in Astrophysics, I had always had a fascination with space since that night. However, my other great lifelong curiousities stemmed in the evolution of species after extinctions and pterosaurs. If I had the chance to watch more women speak on these subjects before highschool I likely would have taken a different path in my courses.
I’m glad the new generation of children have these opportunities to interact with scientists online. I’m glad I have the opportunity now. I have many questions and can’t wait for the next webinar in February! Thanks for letting us into your world!
Webinar Series 2: