Southwest Section WOWs Us!

Pronghorn
Image Credit: Jack Dykinga, USDA, ARS

The Southwest Section of The Wildlife Society hosted a conference call on November 20, 2014 to spotlight the formation of a Women of Wildlife Committee, also known as WOW. In 2011, a few TWS members and leaders began developing WOW, a group intended to promote and support women in the wildlife profession and to provide mentoring opportunities and advice.

The conference call included two conversations with women in the field of wildlife. The Director of the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish, Alexandra Sandoval, was interviewed on her thoughts on women in positions of leadership. There was also a discussion with Jessica Homyack, Sara Schweitzer, and Tabitha Graves, authors of, “Glass Ceilings and Institutional Biases: A closer look at barriers facing women in science and technical fields”.

Leland Pierce, President of the Southwest Section, and Carol Chambers, Southwest Section Representative to TWS Council, led the call. The conversation with Director Sandoval included a Q&A session about her path to becoming the Director of the NM Dept. of Game and Fish as well as her techniques for recruiting diversity in the wildlife field, particularly women, Native Americans, and Hispanics. Sandoval’s main technique is to allow different people to have a voice.

“I want to have a more diverse conversation, but we have to approach those groups and hear what they have to say,” she said. “My plan is to allow for those conversations and interactions to happen. When we allow for that diversity of thought, it attracts positive energy.”

Following Sandoval’s Q&A, Homyack, Schweitzer, and Graves discussed their recent article, which appeared in the Fall 2014 issue of The Wildlife Professional. The authors investigated the variation in structure among organization types and analyzed any biases about men or women in the wildlife management field.

“Literature shows that overt discrimination against women and other minorities has decreased over time but we are still seeing sub-biases that have important ramifications for retaining women in the career,” said Homyack.

The call concluded with discussions on the formation of the new TWS Southwest Section WOW Committee. The main goal of the committee is to provide positive influence for women in the wildlife profession through the Southwest Section. The committee plans to meet in conjunction with the Arizona and New Mexico joint annual meeting on February 5-7, 2015, and possibly at the Texas annual meeting on February 19-22, 2015. The Southwest Section hopes to have a committee chair in place by February.

If you’re interested in more information about the committee please contact Leland Pierce at Leland.pierce@state.nm.us.