Monday, February 23, 2009

Reminder - Mentoring Exercise in Madison

Hi All -
Since everyone is thinking about the conference and registering right now I just want to encourage everyone to let me know if you are interested in the mentoring exercise that we are planning for the Madison meeting. Please send me an e-mail ( if you haven't already, and are interested or would like to know more. I would also like to suggest that you to encourage your students, advisors, and coworkers to participate. Also, please encourage your male colleagues if they are interested in participating. While this is a section for Women in Wetlands, we would like to encourage the mentoring process for males as well, since many have the opportunity to supervise or advise female students, post-docs, and employees.
Looking forward to Madison,

What Happened To Them?

Following up on the previous post, I thought you all might be interested in what happened to at least one of Henry Chandler Cowles female students--May Theilgaard Watts (1893-1975). Here are some photos of her--around 1918 when she was his student. The photo above is Watts with Cowles in a marsh at Big Bay, Wisconsin.

She went on to become a naturalist for the Morton Arboretum in Illinois (see Wikipedia article at

She wrote several books, one of which I've read: "Reading the Landscape of America". Her observations of natural areas and their later destruction are quite interesting. She describes various habitats that she visited as a student in the early 1900s and then revisited 20 years later and described the changes that had taken place (e.g., due to human disturbance). Chapter 2 describes in great detail a New England salt marsh--and methods used to destroy marshes.

She also initiated the movement that led to the "Rails to Trails" program.

May Theilgaard Watts (left) with Hazel Brodbeck (right). Brodbeck taught high school biology in Illinois--that's all I could find about her.

Photographs are from the Library of Congress (American Environmental Photographs Collection, [AEP Image Numbers -MIS174,175; -WIS45], Department of Special Collections, University of Chicago Library).

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Notice anything interesting about this picture?

This photograph was taken of an ecology class on a field trip in 1923. The professor (3rd from left) is Henry Chandler Cowles ("father of American plant ecology").

All the students are women; in fact, if you look through other photographs of Cowles field trips, you'll see that many of the students are female. However, few went on to careers in science.

Photograph is from the Library of Congress (American Environmental Photographs Collection, [AEP Image Number -ILP243], Department of Special Collections, University of Chicago Library).

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Do Women Blog About Science?

There is an article at about female science bloggers. The Scientist asked readers about their favorite science blogs, and all the respondents were male and the blogs they recommended were written by males.

There are a number of women blogging about science--many more than I realized when I first started looking. About 1/5 of bloggers at are female, according to this article.

Whatever you think about blogging (waste of time, etc.), you should be aware of how influential blogs are becoming. Web-savy students read a lot of blogs--and form their perceptions and opinions about science and other topics based on what they see and read on the web.

See the entire article at:

Gender Bias?

Our poll about gender bias is so far showing that over half of those who responded (71%) have experienced bias in some form.

We'd like to hear your stories--especially how you've dealt with bias. Younger women would benefit from your insights.

Are Women Changing the Culture and Practice of Science?

I attended an interesting seminar yesterday about paradigm shifts, education, and creativity. It got me thinking about how the increasing participation by women in science, a traditionally male arena, might be changing the culture and practice of science.

Although it’s been pc to say that there are minimal differences between how males and females solve intellectual problems, some researchers think that our brains are wired differently (due to influence of sex hormones on the developing brain).

Some research indicates that women use both brain hemispheres in problem-solving, whereas men use only one (may be an explanation for why men are poor multi-taskers!). Also, there are supposedly differences in how men and women communicate (and process information). For example, females generally have a greater awareness of visual and verbal cues/nuances--on average.

If we consider the left-brain, right-brain orientation of humans, there are supposed to be gender differences. Left-brained people are verbal, logical, detail-oriented (males), and right-brained people are visual, intuitive, imaginative, “big-picture” oriented (females). I’m not so sure about this gender split relative to brain hemispheres, however. For example, I think females tend to be more verbal (on average) than males.

Although a lot of the left vs. right brain stuff is pop psychology, it’s interesting to consider how science, being dominated until recently by male (left-brain) thinking, might have progressed differently if women had contributed equally to (or even dominated) the sciences in the past.

I’ve added a new poll at the bottom of the page:

Do you think the greater participation of women in science is altering the culture and practice of science?

Image Credit: modified photo from Argonne National Laboratories,

Wednesday, February 11, 2009


Those of you planning to present at the upcoming SWS meeting in Madison--abstracts are due Feb. 27, 2009.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Vote in our polls

Please check out the poll at the bottom of the page--and vote!

If you would like to suggest additional polls, please send them along and I'll set them up.

Monday, February 9, 2009


This is the first post to a blog devoted to Women in Wetlands. It's a forum for us to discuss ideas, make plans, and get feedback from others interested in the topic of how to promote the success of women working in the field of wetland science.

Post your ideas, questions, thoughts, concerns....