Celebrating Women and the Environment: International Women’s Day at F&ES

Celebrating Women and the Environment: International Women’s Day at F&ES

Women make up over half of the world’s population and nearly 60 percent of the F&ES student body – yet, when it comes to women environmental leaders the numbers do not match up. When asked who is an inspirational environmental woman, who comes to mind? Rachel Carson, Wangari Maathai, Christiana Figueres, Barbara Boxer, Frances Beinecke… the obvious answers seem to dry up fast.

To celebrate International Women’s Day, the Yale Environmental Women, an F&ES student interest group, pushed people to think further about women who have influenced the environmental field – in science, academics, politics, art, and life. After some prodding (and snacks), we collectively came up with a list that spanned across the globe, across F&ES faculty, and back to ourselves.

Here are some of the perhaps less well-known names, who are truly outstanding:

  • Arundhati Roy – An Indian author and activist known for her involvement in human rights and environmental causes. Her novel The God of Small Things won the Booker Prize in 1997.
  • Tanya Atwater – One of the first female geophysicists, specializing in tectonic reconstructions. She entered the field at a time when it was even more male-dominated than it is today.
  • Donella Meadows – A pioneering American environmental scientist, teacher and writer. She is best known as lead author of The Limits to Growth and her work on systems thinking.

Who would you add to the list? March 8th is the officially recognized International Women’s Day (#womensday), so our challenge to you is to Google one of these names that you don’t recognize, and share what you learn with someone.

After all, to tackle some of the most complex environmental problems – climate change, rapid urbanization, deforestation — we need to engage all actors and move beyond the current way of doing things. One step towards change is to recognize and elevate the contributions of women leaders in the environmental field at our school and elsewhere.