International Day of Women and Girls in Science

As we mark the 9th annual International Day of celebration for women and girls in science, Texan by Nature recognizes the remarkable women who are accelerating change and progress in Science, Technology, Engineering, Math (STEM), and of course – conservation! According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the percentage of women in the workforce has increased by 10% from 1970 to 2019. Excitingly, the percentage of women working in STEM fields has increased from 8% in 1970 to 27% in 2019. Working women are choosing to make their presence known in these fields. 

2023 Conservation Summit

To gain insights into the experiences of women in conservation, we turned to the extraordinary members of our team at Texan by Nature. Hailing from diverse backgrounds both in life and career, we asked the women on our team to share their perspectives as we forge forward for this generation and the next.

What advice would you give to young women aspiring to enter the field of science?
“It’s cool to be interested in what interests you. There’s no such thing as a subject being ‘for boys’ or ‘for girls’. If you like bugs- Go outside and play with bugs! If you like growing plants and flowers- Start a garden! Even if other people around you disagree, try lots of different things until you find something you like to do that makes you happy. Don’t just do what you think is expected of you to make others happy.” –Kenzie Cherniak, Program Manager

Be authentic! Your perspective as an underrepresented scientist positions you to contribute uniquely to issues you care about.

Carolyn Cooper, Project Associate

“Discovering your unique identity in STEM is crucial. Being a scientist doesn’t mean conforming to others’ perceptions of what a scientist should look like or how they should behave. It is okay to express your femininity (or not). Wearing nail polish while doing field surveys does not make you any less of a conservationist. Work hard, follow your passion, and don’t let other people define you.” –Taylor Kennedy Frenchi, National Health Alliance Program Manager

“You don’t have to be an engineer or a doctor to work in STEM fields! If you love reading, writing, drawing, designing, speaking– there are endless opportunities to leverage your creative strengths to help amplify scientific innovations, missions, and messages that you are passionate about.” –Karina Araujo, Marketing Director

Faith Humphreys, Programs Intern

Who are some women scientists or conservationists that you admire and why?
Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring inspired the modern environmental movement and set the stage for the founding of the EPA. I also have loved learning about her lesser-known work as a marine biologist and biographer of the sea.” –Carolyn Cooper, Project Associate

“Honestly, all of the amazing women who work for the National Park Service are living my dream. For example, Herma Baggley was the first female naturalist who worked for the National Park Service. She was a pioneer in botany and natural education at Yellowstone National Park starting in 1929.” –Jenny Burden, Director of Development

“Bindi Irwin is a huge inspiration to me. Her passion for wildlife is so evident, and she still makes time for conservation work even though she’s a mom (like me!). Her dad inspired me to love wildlife, and she is doing an incredible job carrying on his legacy.” –Faith Humphreys, Programs Intern

While I have had many role models and mentors throughout my career, Jane Goodall was a true inspiration to me since I was young. Despite no formal academic or scientific background, Jane Goodall broke through a male-dominated field, combating discrimination and gender inequality. She is now a renowned woman in science and conservation who has inspired future generations to follow your true aspirations, no matter the barriers.

Madeleine Kaleta, Marketing and Media Intern

Texan By Nature CEO and President, Joni Carswell at the 2023 Texan by Nature Conservation Summit

What impact do you hope to make through your contributions to the field of science and conservation?

I want to change the way conservation is funded, the way it’s understood, and the way people engage. I want to realize a world where every person is a collaborating conservationist. Working together, we can achieve the restoration and conservation needed across the globe. I hope that the impact TxN is making is the model and catalyst for this.

Joni Carswell, CEO and President, Texan by Nature

Karina Araujo

“I want to create a future where every Texan values the vital connection between our natural world and our happiness, health, and livelihood. I think this starts by communicating the value of our natural resources and their benefits in a personal, accessible, and culturally relevant way. My goal is to inspire people of diverse backgrounds to embrace that connection and the conservation of our natural resources as a part of their identity.”
–Karina Araujo, Marketing Director

 

“I think our whole team here at TxN values the importance of meeting people where they are, listening, and finding ways to work together. That’s the type of discourse needed, the kind that makes people excited about participating in conservation. I hope that’s the example I’m helping to set, and that it leads to even more investment in our natural resources.” –Jenny Burden, Director of Development

“I’d love to be the reason that even one person starts caring for the environment more. Many people feel that they are separate from nature, especially with increasing urbanization. I hope to help close that imaginary gap between people and nature to ensure that future generations can enjoy the beautiful places that we enjoy today. “–Faith Humphreys, Programs Intern

Kenzie Cherniak

How can we create a supportive environment for women in science to thrive and succeed?

One of my all-time favorite quotes is “Be curious, not judgmental”. We must create an environment for women to learn and ask questions without the fear of being judged or punished for not knowing the answers to everything. This builds confidence, increasing the number of brilliant women with wonderful new ideas in the STEM field.

Kenzie Cherniak, Program Manager


“While there are many structural changes needed to make science inclusive, openly speaking about the challenges (e.g., sexism, racism, imposter syndrome, mental health) of being a member of an underrepresented community in science makes it less lonely for everyone.” –Carolyn Cooper, Project Associate

Madeleine Kaleta

“Creating an environment for women to succeed starts at a cultural level, and will need time to be changed. But encouraging and supporting other women throughout our journey can make a big difference in our success. Women throughout my life have shared their experiences and challenges with me, and I pass on that mentorship mentality to other aspiring women. By helping each other with resumes or encouraging each other to take that higher level job, we can thrive together.” –Madeleine Kaleta, Marketing and Social Media Intern


“Encouraging women to pursue these careers from an early age is one of the best ways to ensure women will feel at home in science fields. When young girls see themselves represented in STEM, they will see that success in this field is possible for them too.” –Hanna Guidry, Programs Intern

Jenny Burden
Jenny Burden

Can you share a memorable moment from your career in science and conservation that inspired you to pursue this path?

I haven’t had a traditional science/conservation career, but my first job that put me in a position to steward and care for land was working on a ranch in Wyoming right after college. It was my first time experiencing access to wilderness areas and balancing care for those precious areas with the demands of a working cattle ranch. My formal education may have had nothing to do with it, but my heart instantly fell in love with the work, and I’ve been passionate about it ever since!

Jenny Burden, Director of Development


“One of my most memorable moments was on my first day of work conducting bat surveys. I had dedicated time to studying and gaining experience (and even relocated halfway across the country on short notice for this job). However, it didn’t feel real until that first day, as I hiked into the field with all my equipment, with monarch butterflies fluttering around me. I felt immense pride that my work had paid off and I had finally made it.”  –Taylor Kennedy Frenchi, National Health Alliance Program Manager

Our vision is for every business, every Texan to participate in conservation and for Texas to be a model of collaborative conservation for the world. 

In celebration of International Day of Women and Girls in Science, we recognize the remarkable women of Texan by Nature. Your unique perspectives, voices, and expertise are invaluable toward  helping us achieve our vision and mission–THANK YOU!

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