In a series of posts the coming weeks we will introduce you to the member of the Steering Committee of the Network of Women in Marine Science (WiMS). Today we will introduce you to Meaghen McCord. Meaghen lives in South Africa and is the Founding Director and Scientific Director of the South African Shark Conservancy. In the Steering Committee of WiMS Meaghen is the Vice Chair and the Country Representative for South Africa.
Why did you decide to join WiMS?
I am passionate about inspiring girls and young women to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM), particularly throughout coastal Africa where women remain marginalized and often lack opportunities to pursue careers in marine science, or the knowledge about the career opportunities which exist. I firmly believe that sharing my experiences and working with an incredible group of female scientists from Africa, via the WiMS platform, will enable us to build the profile of female scientists and empower young women on the continent.Ultimately my goal in joining WiMS was to meet likeminded, established female marine scientists who share my passion for communicating science and capacity building to help grow the next generation of women in STEM.
Each of the members of the SC are appointed for 3 years. What would you like to achieve during your time in the Steering Committee?
I would like to work with the Steering Committee and WIOMSA to build an understanding of the gender equality issues still facing female marine scientists today, and to use this to drive policy change and gender mainstreaming in marine institutions throughout Africa. Additionally, I hope to use the platform to develop and implement sustainable training and development programs for girls interested in marine sciences in developing nations. Lastly, I would like to use the opportunity help change the face of marine science conferences and symposia on the continent
– making them more friendly for women with families who attend these.
Why should women marine scientists join WiMS?
This platform will enable women marine scientists to meet likeminded individuals, to share experiences and to build incredible transboundary collaborations which will advance our field.
Do you have any advice for young women planning to pursue careers in marine science?
Do not take “no” for an answer, work hard (you will often have to work harder than your male colleagues to be noticed), build your physical strength – you will need it in the field – and gain as much experience as possible – attend every conference you can, learn to drive a boat, become a scientific diver, become comfortable driving with a trailer, and seize every opportunity presented to you. Also, never forget that collaboration is key. Build a network of male and female colleagues who support and empower you, as well as share your scientific vision. In this day and age, networking is vital to your success as a scientist. Lastly, remain true to yourself and be extremely ethical in your approach to your science. As a scientist, ethics and responsibility are vital.