The Brownfields Broadcast
Women in Brownfields: A Brownfields 2019 Singular Event
by Ann Carroll
When I began my career with EPA in the late 1980s, the National Academy of Sciences and other organizations had focused initiatives to advance women in science and engineering (WISE) which continue today. Then termed ‘WISE', our group was one of several special emphasis programs in EPA established to encourage diversity in management and technical positions. I was excited to be a part of an energized WISE chapter in EPA New England who had monthly speakers on topics of general, environmental and public health science interest. One of our highlights was to organize an event with Dr. Sylvia Earle that was widely acclaimed.
This past December after a long hiatus, I was thrilled to help organize a ‘next-gen WISE event’ in my current work. Building off the Women in Brownfields networking breakfast held as part of the West Virginia Brownfield Conference, our event was organized as our first Women in Brownfields as part of the EPA and ICMA co-sponsored Brownfields 2019, the 18th national brownfield training conference in Los Angeles, California.
Led by brownfield practice leaders, veterans of the brownfield program shared stories of their own education and career progressions, pitfalls and lessons learned. In a packed room, session questions and discussions identified a range of themes important to participants including the need for greater mentoring, career support and continuing discussions about the value women bring to brownfield and revitalization project work. Participants also highlighted ideas and ways to make brownfield practice more representative of where we work and the communities we serve. Many participants in the event observed and commented on the extraordinary energy in the room.
Moving forward, session leaders, staff and colleagues are working on ways to carry forward our shared enthusiasm for diversifying women in brownfield practice. We are learning new ways to tell our stories and help current practitioners to mentor and encourage young women to enter environmental sciences and policy educational and career areas as well as the business, law, finance, engineering, construction, development and design fields integral to successful brownfield revitalization.