Assoc. for Women in Science

Fall 2015

AWIS Magazine covers topics important to women in science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and medicine fields. Topics include career advancement, work-life balance, the state of science and technology, women’s wellness, and AWIS’ political and

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48 association for women in science | fall 2015 workingfashion F ieldwork allows scientists to immerse themselves in their research questions and to examine complex environments that cannot be replicated in the laboratory. In the field, researchers not only take in information, but they are experiencing this information firsthand. These experiences inspire more projects and increase productivity. In field-based sciences, researchers with active field programs publish more papers and receive more funding (McGuire, Primack, & Losos, 2012). Thus, it is no surprise that fieldwork is the leading source for professional satisfaction in some sciences (Lockwood, Reiners, & Reiners, 2013). Although fieldwork is an essential and rewarding part of scientific research, there are many challenges in conducting this work, especially for women. These challenges range from work-life integration to logistics and safety concerns. In the future, there is an expected shift in gender composition with more women entering the field-based sciences (Lockwood et al., 2013). Unless these challenges are resolved, women may conduct more of their work indoors (i.e. laboratory work and modeling). Not only will this shift be detrimental to field- based sciences as a whole, but there will be a disconnect between the work that women are conducting and what they find professionally satisfying. Ultimately, this could decrease retention rates for women in field-based sciences. Integrating Family and Balance Work-life integration is an important concern for women conducting fieldwork. The distance and additional travel can strain a researcher's personal life and responsibilities. In fact, family responsibility is a primary reason indicated by women for leaving science (McGuire et al., 2012). In addition, wom- en with children spend less time conducting research than women without children. In order to decrease attrition and maintain careers that are professionally satisfying, there need to be continued efforts toward work-life integration. Although in field-based sciences the percentage of child care is becoming more equally divided, women still provide more child care than men and are more likely to bring children to the field (McGuire et al., 2012). Thus, there are still challenges for women conducting fieldwork. Field stations should offer family-friendly housing and a child-care option for women who need to bring their children to the field. Options for child care, field assistants, and services in the area should be listed on field station websites. There are also many ways that universities and funding agen- cies can support fieldwork by women. Universities should contribute supplemental funding to be allocated toward child care when in the field; many universities have this in place for attendance to conferences. Additional programs could pro- vide funding for travel for child-care providers (e.g., spouses Working in the Field: New Solutions for Old Problems By Caitlin I. Looby, PhD Candidate and Kathleen K. Treseder, PhD Without a field station at her field sites, Emily Hollenbeck, a PhD candidate from Brown University, gets help in conducting fieldwork from local residents in Monteverde, Costa Rica. Dr. Daniela Shebitz, an assistant professor at Kean University in Union, New Jersey, gets help from a local plant expert, Israel Mena, in the Maquenque National Wildlife Refuge in Costa Rica.

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