CSO Members –  

The month of March is National Women’s Month and has been used to celebrate the accomplishments of women and make the case for women’s rights. Of course, one month is not the only time we should laud notable women and advance feminism, but taking a day to consciously call out the under-told history of professional women and reflect on how our own profession is supporting gender diversity, equity, inclusion and justice is important.   

In our coastal profession, I believe we have made great strides in supporting women in the workforce. I am proud that many of my colleagues and many of my supervisors have been women. I have heard and seen anecdotally (I have searched for data to support this, but have not found it), that coastal STEM higher education is more gender-diverse than STEM generally. And I look up to so many female leaders who work at the intersection of coastal science and policy. In particular, I consider Jane LubchencoKathy Sullivan and Ashanti Johnson some of my heroes, and on a personal level, both Joan Pope and Jane Smith with USACE have been inspirations to me. 

But great strides, positive anecdotes and many female leaders do not mean that we have reached equity and full inclusion in the coastal professions! I challenge all of us to consider what policies within our own agency or organization may need to change to better support women in the coastal workforce; what practices and procedures are needed (or need to be updated) to support young women in their coastal studies and as they enter the workforce. And in particular what policies and procedures can support women from other underserved communities – women of color, women whose first language is not English, women with physical disabilities, etc. 

Finally, to our women delegates and staff, thank you. I will never truly understand the challenges large and small that you have had to overcome, but your success demonstrates your resilience and passion, which makes our field, our profession, our coastal family, stronger. I hope to be the best ally I can be in supporting you, and if there is something I should know or learn, or if I have offended in some way, please share with me. Women’s rights are human rights, and I am enriched by the advancement of women in society and in our profession, let me know how I can help. 


Derek Brockbank

CSO Executive Director