On May 4, 2018, first year UW Astronomy & Astrobiology graduate student Guadalupe Tovar participated in the “Women’s Economic Empowerment – Breaking Gender Barriers and Advancing Equity.” panel. The forum was organized by the UW Scandinavian Studies department in collaboration with the Danish embassy. Her Royal Highness Crown Princess Mary of Denmark was a keynote speaker and she addressed the importance of gender equality work. Panelists from the Gates Foundation, World Vision, International Center for Research on Women (ICRW), and the UW all contributed to the discussion on gender equity.
Tovar was the only student on the panel and spoke about her experiences as a first-generation college student in a male dominated PhD program. When asked to address what has helped keep her and other women in STEM, Tovar shared the importance of representation. “It was not until I met another women of color thriving in the field of Astrophysics that I started to see myself pursuing a similar career, which was powerful and emphasizes how much representation matters.”. Tovar was also asked to address the areas where she thinks the pipeline of women in STEM could improve: ” We need to amplify the voices and work of women already in the field. To do this we need to learn to pass the mic for people to share their own stories. At the same time, when creating new programs or hosting panels that focus on women empowerment and gender equity we need to make sure that everyone has a seat and voice at the table. “
The panel concluded with remarks from the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Denmark followed by questions from the audience. All in all, the forum shed light on the work that we all need to continue doing in order to break down gender barriers and continue advancing equity. A recording of the event can be found on UWTV.
From left to right: Anders Samuelsen (Minister for Foreign Affairs of Denmark), Sabine Lang (UW Professor), Sarah Gammage (ICRW), Guadalupe Tovar (UW Student), Her Royal Highness Princess Mary, Margaret Schuler (World Vision), Sarah Hendriks (Gates Foundation), Sarah Kambou (panel moderator)