To celebrate Women’s History Month, USGS climate scientists were asked what advice they would give to their younger selves and to aspiring scientists. May they inspire the next generation of women in USGS science!
Celebrating Women’s History Month: Advice for the Next Generation of Women in Climate Science
Michiko Squires Beauchamp
National Climate Adaptation Science Center
"One of the beautiful things in this world is change. We all change - people, nature, relationships, jobs, dreams, and aspirations. But who you are at your core will always remain the same. Your identity is not dictated by your job title, or destination, so push past that worry. Step beyond your front door, beyond your neighborhood, and keep one foot in front of the other. Trust the changes you go through and believe in the road ahead. The good news is that your curiosity is the foundation of science and your connection to all scientists. If you have that, you’ve made it! Explore what interests you and be willing to step out and try something new - the passion will follow. Keep having fun through the process and make changes when it isn’t anymore. Let’s see where this leads!"
Southwest Biological Science Center
"Don't sweat the small stuff and follow your passion! I remember being so nervous that my path seemed so winding and wondering if I should select science projects based on what I was genuinely interested in or, instead, topics I thought might be easiest to fund. In hindsight, I’m so grateful for that winding path, which was not only fun, but that gave me much of the insight, context, and experiences I have benefitted from throughout my career. I’m also so glad I decided to follow my heart when it came to science and to focus on questions and projects that I felt were important and that mattered to me. One of the biggest perks as a scientist is that we often have agency over what we do and how we do it. I wouldn’t trade that for anything and it allows me to do the work I think is important for our planet and that I find fascinating. So, to the early career researchers out there, the advice I would give my younger self is, do what you think is important, do what gets you excited, and don’t worry about a linear path."
Geosciences and Environmental Change Science Center
"Everyone has the chance to create their own definition of success. Life and careers are rarely straight lines of progression, which makes things exciting. Exploring multiple possibilities early in your career helps to determine how you would like to approach the longer arc of your career. If you have the chance to explore possibilities, these opportunities can help with your future, as they allow approaching science from multiple angles. Exploring multiple ways of thinking early in your career gives you flexibility in your future approaches, and helps you realize that you are capable of multiple skills and ways of looking at the world. Taking the time to determine the values that are the most important to you, and then taking steps to see if your current situation aligns with these values, or if it leads to career possibilities that can align with these values, can help with knowing if a path is right for you."
Pacific Coastal and Marine Science Center
"Your inquisitive nature and love for the environment will sustain you in the journey ahead. Think of your career in science like the radiating roots of a tree that branch and support diverse functions. Those are the skills, opportunities, relationships, collaborations, and new directions available to you if you reach out. Overcome your reservations and connect – integrated environmental science requires a strong network. At the same time, build up strength and endurance for your career by developing areas of expertise that are useful across diverse fields of study. Bend when the gale-force winds blow but don’t fear pruning, because change is an opportunity to become even better and more resilient. Look for opportunities to use science to improve the lives, livelihoods, or quality of life for society. A science career with the USGS is a natural fit because its mission is pure science and national priorities guide the research. This the best job ever!"
Northwest Climate Adaptation Science Center
"Having a career in science can mean SO MANY different things. As a high school student, you’ll think it would be amazing to be a whale biologist but that, sadly, only the smartest boys in your biology class can achieve that dream. Luckily, you’ll realize the fallacy of that notion and pursue science degrees as a university undergrad and graduate student. But then you’ll think having a career in science means working 24/7, not getting much sleep, having numerous highly cited publications in top-notch journals, and being nothing less than a “celebrity” in the science world. Eventually, you’ll also realize the fallacy of that notion and learn that having a science career can mean influencing WHAT science topics are studied and funded, HOW science is conducted, and WHERE science products make the most difference (which is almost always outside of professional science circles). What is inspiring about a science career is that even when you’re studying adorable soil critters (and not whales), you’ll be preparing yourself to be a leader in ways that make a much bigger difference than you can imagine."