Presentation on women studying forestry ties for second in national contest

Karin Bothwell and Erin Schlager, both master’s students in the University of Maine’s School of Forest Resources, presented their research on female students in forestry programs, and the on-campus group, Supporting Women in Forestry Today (SWIFT) at the 2016 Society of American Foresters National Convention this November.

The pair tied for second place in the presentation category in the Forest Science & Technology Board contest at the convention in Madison, Wisconsin.

“We hope to encourage other institutions to develop their own support network for women or other minority groups in the discipline by explaining the format we use, and the considerations that came up while creating the group. The major themes we found from survey results is that respondents expressed concern about their experiences of discrimination, they indicated an interest in gaining skills and strategies for academic and professional success as women in forestry, and they value the connections they have made across faculty-graduate-undergraduate divisions by participating in SWIFT,” Bothwell said.

“These results lay the groundwork for developing SWIFT groups at other institutions. We strongly believe groups like SWIFT not only provide a safe place for women to learn, but also foster a community atmosphere and create a support network that can serve to encourage and empower women in forestry to succeed.”

Bothwell and Schlager have since been invited to share their presentation with the National Association of University Forest Resource Programs, Pennsylvania Women in Forestry and Northern Arizona University. A group of women who gather at the National Convention each year also plan to adopt the name SWIFT, and the group’s approach.

SWIFT is an informal group for women in forestry – led by women in forestry – to meet, support, mentor, and share strategies for success in our male-dominated field that was established by members of the University of Maine’s School of Forest Resources in 2015.