It's hard to believe it's been a full year since WGC took shape. First of all, I'd like to thank the other directors for their enthusiasm and efforts: Jenna McKenzie, Vicki Tschirhart, and Ken Witherly. In the latter half of 2018, two other directors joined to help with the ever expanding load and I'm thankful to Diana Benz and Farzaneh Farahani for stepping up in their new roles.
WGC was started in response to the lack of women presenting and chairing at Exploration '17 in October 2017. This conference happens every ten years and it is our ultimate goal to be part of a very different landscape at Exploration '27. For me, WGC is important because I'm a young geoscientist, celebrating my 30th birthday this past year, and I do not want to become a statistic and leave via the leaky pipeline. But I also worry about stories that have been shared, the inevitability of the industry's ups and downs, and how my future career will be shaped.
We began by starting a Slack community, which is a closed, private forum where people (all genders!) can join via an invite. It's a become a place to share news articles, job postings, events, and hopefully connect with others. If you haven't joined, consider doing so here. Slack is available in a browser, desktop app, or mobile app. You'll find me there, if you ever need to talk about anything.
We then also created a website, where we shared our vision and plan, archive newsletters, tell a bit about the directors, share events, and recognize leading women in monthly blog posts. We're active on Twitter too and email out a monthly newsletter. We wrote a business plan and had it reviewed by our female role models; their time deserves a special thanks!
While the directors are spread across the continent, we strive to meet with members in person often. In 2018, we held 5 meet-ups: 3 times in Vancouver (RoundUp, CIM meeting, and RFG conference), Toronto (PDAC), and Keystone, CO (SEG conference). We'll be back at RoundUp later this month and in Toronto in March during PDAC!
In the latter half of 2018, we presented talks about the gender gap at Laurentian University in Sudbury, the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, and the Saskatchewan Geophysical Society in Saskatoon. These were very well-received, particularly by students, and we're planning to head to a few more universities before the summer. You can see the presentation slides here.
We also co-sponsored a public speaking workshop during the Saskatchewan Geologic Open House in early December. A total of 14 people were registered, including 6 women. The ages were diverse too, ranging from students to late career professionals. There were people from small consulting companies, geophysical survey companies, and large mining companies. WGC was also proud to have co-sponsored two female geoscience students to attend the course! The course itself was fantastic (yes, I took it) and was an excellent opportunity to invest in my soft skills. The things I learned will apply to future technical presentations at conferences, presentations to clients, and day-to-day interactions with fellow professionals. This also showed that even at a relatively small conference, there were plenty of people interested in such a course and we hope to take this to larger conference organizations to show them that yes, technical short courses are excellent but a soft skills course is equally important for the professional development growth of geoscientists.
Coming into 2019, we are developing relationships with Women In Mining BC and Me Too Mining Association. And we're reaching out to other organizations like AMEBC, PDAC, Society of Economic Geologists, Association of Professional Geoscientists Ontario, and Engineers and Geoscientists BC. We're working on fundraising to have a bigger presence at conferences, sponsor more events like the speaking workshop, and do some critical research on why the leaky pipeline persists and how best to patch it up.
In the meantime, we hope to see you at the next meet-up in Vancouver on January 29 or hear from you via the website, Slack, or firstname.lastname@example.org!
Happy new year and thank you for your support!
Sarah Devriese, PhD, GIT