From Denver Botanic Gardens (Jennifer Ramp Neale):
Denver Botanic Gardens is more than just a place for peace, respite and beauty; it is a scientific institution. Between our Horticulture and Research & Conservation departments, we are home to more than two dozen women scientists. As we celebrate International Day of Women and Girls in Science today, we want to acknowledge the passion, leadership and dedication of our scientists.
I asked my colleagues how they see themselves as women in science, what role they think they may play in training the next generation of scientists and where they received their own training. Our backgrounds and expertise are as varied as the plants in our gardens. There is not one way to describe a scientist. Some of us have been in our career for decades whereas others are still in training. Most of us followed a fairly traditional educational path involving an undergraduate degree followed by graduate school, but some of us arrived at the Gardens after careers in other industries or after discovering a love of plants through life experiences.
One thing we all have in common is a love of observation and asking questions. Inquiry and creativity are, after all, at the heart of all scientific endeavors. We wouldn’t have the knowledge to identify a plant on a hike or grow plants in the Gardens without constant inquiry and seeking out knowledge. Science is the process of trial and error and learning and growing from those experiences.
One thing that many of our scientists commented on is the support networks they have found within their fields and the intense desire to give back to future generations by serving as mentors and supporters of young women and girls with an interest in science.
We are lucky to work in an environment where we are supported and respected. Very few of us feel like we are in the minority as women scientists, but we know this is not the case for all women pursuing scientific careers. We take great pride in our role as mentors, teachers and champions of the next generation of women scientists. We can all name a mentor along the way who supported us and showed us that we could be a scientist. It is now our job to continue to provide opportunities for those interested in science, to show them all the different ways someone can be a scientist, and to continue to share our passion and love for plants, fungi and nature with those we are lucky enough to meet along their journey.