Girls & Women in Science

Advocating for Girls and Women in Science

BREAKING THE GLASS CANOPY

In 2020, Margaret Lowman, Ph.D., known world-wide as “CanopyMeg,” was selected by the National University of Singapore as the institution’s first-ever female Visiting Distinguished Professor in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) studies. While not the first time Dr. Lowman has broken through a glass ceiling (or as she calls it for her field, the “glass canopy”) — it was a very significant “first.” A “first” because the uncomfortable truth is that there are still thousands upon thousands of “first-ever” opportunities out there for girls and women in science.

"Although things have changed considerably for women in the world of science since the brave and bold Marie Curie began paving the way, there are still far too few women pursuing science careers, including my own field of forest canopy biology. Simply put, we’re missing out on a tremendous number of great minds." – Meg Lowman Huffington Post Science Blog (2014)

2021 report from the United Nations about the International Day of Women and Girls in Science, shared the following sobering statistics about females in science:

“At present, less than 30 per cent of researchers worldwide are women. According to UNESCO data (2014-2016), only around 30 per cent of all female students select STEM-related fields in higher education. Globally, female students’ enrollment is particularly low in ICT (3 per cent), natural science, mathematics and statistics (5 per cent) and in engineering, manufacturing and construction (8 per cent). Long-standing biases and gender stereotypes are steering girls and women away from science related fields.”

The fact is that female brainpower and perspective are needed now more than ever as our world grapples with the enormous challenges of climate change, deforestation, and global pandemics.

Meg takes every opportunity she can to help girls and women connect to issues of environmental justice. Through books, summer camps, her own example as a “muddy boots” field researcher, and through in-person and virtual interaction, she empowers them to study and protect the earth and pursue careers in science.

The  Meg Lowman Treetops Camp for Girls at the Tanglewood Nature Center and Museum near Elmira, New York, was named after Meg Lowman. As frequently as she can, Meg visits Elmira to personally teach and lead activities during the summer camp sessions.

As a mentor, Meg endeavors to help women already in the sciences to navigate the obstacles they are bound to encounter so that they can break through the glass ceilings (and canopies!) themselves and be better positioned to help and mentor in turn the ensuing generation of women in science.

"Given their position on the front line of the climate-change battle, women are uniquely situated to be agents of change—to help find ways to mitigate the causes of global warming and to adapt to its impacts on the ground."

Time Magazine (2019)

A trailblazer in women’s involvement in the sciences, Meg experienced first-hand the gender bias and indeed, the harassment and difficulties, girls and women can face when studying or pursuing in traditionally male-dominated fields of science. She dedicates an entire chapter of her new book, “The Arbornaut” (Farrar Straus and Giroux; August 2021) to describing the struggles she and other female scientists and colleagues have encountered over the past several decades.

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