Women’s History Month is celebrated annually in March and pays tribute to the generations of women whose contributions made a historical impact on society. It is also a month to honor women who are currently working hard to make positive innovations and impressions on the world.
The Oceanography Society published a special issue of their magazine for 2015 Women’s History Month entitled “Women in Oceanography: a decade Later,” which features four of AOML’s female oceanographers.
The Oceanography Society’s feature includes statistics, women’s program descriptions, and one-page autobiographical sketches written by women oceanographers. It is the sequel to their first “Women in Oceanography” issue, released in 2005, dedicated to exploring why men outnumbered women at higher levels of the field.
This issue evaluates progresses made in retaining women in the oceanography field over the past decade. The article included over 200 autobiographical sketches, which highlighted AOML’s Libby (Elizabeth) Johns, Renellys C. Perez, Claudia Schmid, and Silvia L. Garzoli.
Click below to find out more about each scientist.
Over the past decade, Libby has continued with her research in south Florida coastal oceanography and broadened her interests to include fisheries oceanography. As a woman in her chosen field, Libby faced a few challenges. First and foremost, the challenge of being a wonderful mother while continuing to excel at her professional career had her constantly adapting to life’s changes. Another challenge Libby faced was transitioning from strictly physical oceanography to interdisciplinary, applied oceanography. Libby’s advice; “Do not settle for the status quo, but instead constantly evaluate the various parts of a happy and successful life so every aspect can compliment each other.”
A combined love of the ocean, math and physics brought Claudia to the field of oceanography. Growing up, she spent summers mostly in or on the waters of the Mediterranean. Through her research projects, she achieved global data coverage with regular sampling. For Claudia this was a dream come true. It inspired her to become more involved with data management, co-principal investigator for the Argo project, and join the Prediction and Research Moored Array in the Tropical Atlantic project.
Over the past 10 years, Silvia transitioned through many life changes. From director of the Physical Oceanography Division (PhOD) at NOAA’s AOML, to Chief Scientist of AOML, to retirement and a part-time scientific position, Silvia witnessed positive changes in the challenges women in science face. When she was PhOD’s director she faced administrative and management challenges, including being a “woman boss,” During her time as director, PhOD greatly benefitted and received excellent reviews after an intensive external review process. Now Silvia works part time as a scientist in order to direct her energy toward writing papers and experiencing extended research cruises. Her advice; “Change is good. It is difficult, and scary, but good!”
Renellys’s love of the ocean brought her to her current research, which is focused on developing a better understanding of ocean currents and their roles in ocean-atmospheric heat exchange. Her investigations require collaboration with other researchers around the world, which allows her to travel and conduct research at sea. This can sometimes be challenging because it involves time spent away from her husband and daughter. Being a woman in science required that Renellys be able to balance family and a career. Renellys also had to overcome learning how to navigate the US science funding system. She plans on using the multitasking skills she developed in her family life and putting them to use at work, funding multiple projects simultaneously.
Originally published in March 2015 by Shannon Jones