This past year at U.W., I heard it repeated countless times that scientists don’t communicate well and don’t communicate enough with the public. This blog has been my personal effort to buck that trend and to practice writing these “complex” ideas in a way that non-scientists can understand. I also know that scientists learn ALOT while doing research that never gets shared with people, and that means nobody is empowered to do anything about it. I think that if you are working in “action science” like me, your ultimate intention is to make the current situation better. My goal is to improve marine conservation in the Philippines with this one little drop in the bucket, and the only way I can do that is by sharing my results with the people who have the institutional power and the capability to do conservation here.
Yesterday I presented my preliminary results to the CCE staff, and tomorrow I will present to the agriculture and fisheries government staff, as well as others involved in coastal resource management on Siquijor, including the presidents of sanctuaries. There will be people from all over the island, not just from the communities where I worked. While I don’t have any statistics and numbers to give them, and I haven’t finished transcribing all the interview recordings I have, in reality, I think most numbers bore people. So my presentation is mostly concepts and stories of my observations, and ultimately, trying to showcase how these women are challenging our gender stereotypes and making the case that women need to be included intentionally in coastal resource management.
I have already spent 26 days on Siquijor Island gathering data and am about to spend one more week there. The things I have learned here have really blown my mind… I had no proof of how women were participating in MPA management here, and very few ideas of what to expect. A month ago, the best I hoped for was that maybe women were bringing coffee to men while men were up all night guarding the sanctuary… I am happy to say that the role women are playing is much, much more significant than that. I have no incentive to keep my data secret like many scientists do- most of the funding for this research has come out of my savings, except a $500 grant from the Wendy Graham Fund through U.W.- so I will share it tomorrow and will continue sharing it with whoever wants to know (and probably some who don’t). If what I share is useful or empowering to just one person, I have done what I set out to do.
Wish me luck and not-too-sweaty hands!