The Earth Science Women’s Network, an international peer-mentoring organization for women in the geosciences, has received a national honor for its work in creating a supportive community for thousands of scientists. CC Assistant Professor of Environmental Science Rebecca Barnes serves on its leadership board.
On June 26, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and the National Science Foundation announced the Earth Science Women's Network as one of 41 individuals or organizations honored with presidential awards for mentoring in the sciences. The award is the "highest honor bestowed on mentors who work to expand talent in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields," according to the award citation.
The Earth Science Women's Network was established in 2002 by a group of six women scientists. What started as simple email exchanges transformed into an organization for establishing connections and scientific collaborations. Now, the network is a hub for connecting women across all facets of earth sciences.
"The Earth Science Women's Network supports thousands of women across the nation and around the world," Barnes says. "I know that I would not be the scientist, educator, or person I am today if I didn’t have the network of mentors that ESWN provides.”
“The success of ESWN has inspired several of us to take on additional initiatives aimed at improving the retention of women in geosciences,” says Barnes.
Barnes, with members of ESWN leadership, leads two major NSF funded initiatives: PROGRESS (Promoting Geoscience Research, Education, and Success) and the ADVANCEGeo Partnership. The PROGRESS program aims to increase the number of women in geosciences via evidence-based multi-level deliberate mentoring program that connects undergraduate women with mentors at individual schools, in local regions, and across the country. The ADVANCEGeo Partnership works to improve workplace climate by creating trainings for faculty to reduce harassment and bullying, in particular in informal environments such as lab and field settings.
Barnes is also the faculty advisor for the CC Women in STEM group, started by students who were part of the first class of the mentoring program.
Award winners received a presidential citation and $10,000 from NSF, which manages the presidential awards programs on behalf of the White House. The presidential awards for mentoring in STEM recognize the critical roles mentors play outside the traditional classroom, in the academic and professional development of the future STEM workforce, according to the NSF.
Colleagues, administrators, and students nominate individuals and organizations for exemplary mentoring sustained over a minimum of five years. The award has been given since 1995.