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Inaugural session on Empowering Women in Oil Spill Prevention, Preparedness, Response and Restoration at the International Oil Spill Conference

MAY 17, 2021 — The first session on Empowering Women in Oil Spill Prevention, Preparedness, Response and Restoration at the International Oil Spill Conference resulted in a fully booked virtual room. This session focused on empowering women, beginning with a panel of leaders who shared their experience with unconscious bias, how they navigated their unique career paths, challenges they faced in the current business climate, benefits of diverse teams and opportunities they identify for growth.

Vessel with small unmanned aircraft in the water.
The Puma operator aboard the U.S. Coast Guard zodiac recovers the small unmanned aircraft after demonstrating its capabilities for detecting oil from the air during Arctic Shield 2013. Image credit: NOAA.

Their remarks set the stage for discussion in small breakout groups, organized to explore various topics of current interest for women working in the spill community. From preparedness and research to response, restoration and recovery, panelists and participants engaged on issues concerning authenticity in the workplace, networking and mentoring, goals and asking, unconscious bias, bystander effect, and work - life/family balance. The outcome of this session will shape the development of future sessions in the international triennial conference series, will establish a professional network of spill experts, and target cross-sector joint training to expand diversity in the oil spill preparedness, response and restoration workforces.

The panel included:

  • Nancy Kinner, Ph.D., University of New Hampshire, Coastal Response Research Center, Professor
  • Victoria Broje, Ph.D., Shell, Senior Emergency Response Scientist
  • RADM Meredith Austin, USCG
  • Patricia Charlebois, International Maritime Organization, Deputy Director

The planners of this inaugural session included:

  • Ann Hayward Walker, Independent Consultant; former founder and President, SEA Consulting Group 
  • Clément Chazot, International Maritime Organization
  • Helen Buni, International Maritime Organization
  • Amy Merten, Ph.D., NOAA’s Office of Response and Restoration
  • Erin Goblirsch, SmithBucklin

For more information, please contact Amy.Merten@noaa.gov.

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Last updated Saturday, May 22, 2021 2:23pm PDT