Women's History Month 2022
In celebration of Women's History Month, this blog will be featuring innovative women who have made incredible impacts for a happier, healthier and more equitable world thorough sustainability, environmental conservation and energy progress.
"We stand now where two roads diverge. But unlike the roads in Robert Frost's familiar poem, they are not equally fair. The road we have long been traveling is deceptively easy, a smooth superhighway on which we progress with great speed, but at its end lies disaster. The other fork of the road—the one 'less traveled by'—offers our last, our only chance to reach a destination that assures the preservation of our earth." —Rachel Carson
There was no Earth Day or EPA in 1962 when marine biologist, author, and conservationist Rachel Carson wrote Silent Spring. Often credited as the book that launched the environmental movement, Spring was the first book to discuss environmental issues. In it, Carson examines the damages the fast-growing use of DDT to control insects had caused to birds, wildlife, and humans.
Even though Carson's book caused an initial stir after its release, it changed the way people thought about the natural world. The year after Silent Spring came out, President Kennedy asked his Science Advisory Committee to investigate Carson's claims. Carson's work was vindicated and chemical pesticide regulations were immediately strengthened after the investigation. On July 7, 1970, President Nixon established the Environmental Protection Agency, which was one of its first tasks to ban the use of DDT and other harmful pesticides.
Carson's foresight and courage to speak out about human activities that destroy the environment and the necessity for us to act responsibly has led to tremendous progress in the environmental movement.
Dr. Rose M. Mutiso
Born in Nairobi, Kenya, Dr. Rose M. Mutiso is a materials engineering specialist. She is the research director of the Energy for Growth Hub and co-founder and executive director of the Mawazo Institute, which supports the next generation of female academics and thought leaders in East Africa.
She is the current Next Einstein Forum Ambassador representing Kenya. Previously, Rose was a Senior Fellow in the Office of International Climate and Clean Energy at the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), where she led DOE’s engagement on technology and policy dimensions of energy access in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. Prior to this, she served as an Energy and Innovation Policy Fellow in the office of U.S. Senator Christopher A. Coons, where she authored several pieces of legislation that were signed into law by President Barack Obama.
A materials engineer by training, Rose has technical experience in the fields of nanotechnology and polymer physics, including nano-electronics and next-generation energy technologies. She earned her BA and BE in Engineering Sciences with a concentration in Materials Science from Dartmouth College, and her Ph.D. in Materials Science and Engineering from the University of Pennsylvania.
Rose advocates the need to prioritize Africa's needs with what remains of the global carbon budget. She explains that this is a way to foster growth and equitably achieve a smaller global carbon footprint.
Her dream is for more African women to influence decision-making and public discourse on critical issues such as energy poverty.
Janice Lao - an acclaimed scientist, economist and author - works with companies that she believes can make the world a better place. As a scientist, Janice understands the scientific tendency to present ideas in complex ways and with lots of jargon, but she takes pride in communicating the importance of sustainability in accessible terms so that both companies and individuals can understand and take action.
Throughout her career, she has developed and worked on pioneering sustainability initiatives that have become global industry standards from carbon trading, biodiversity, responsible seafood sourcing, single-use plastics, textiles upcycling, refugee & minority hiring among many others.
Though Lao's parents and teachers urged her to pursue STEM, her peers sometimes questioned her decision. Despite the discouragement, Lao took her confidence and a "fake it 'til you make it" attitude and overcame stereotypes and discrimination. As a result, she learned to stand up for herself, speak out against prejudice, and, of course, let her work speak for itself. Thanks to her perseverence and immense acccomplishment in her field, Janice was featured as one of 25 women in STEM professions featured in the US-published "Everyday Superheroes: Women in STEM careers" which aims to encourage other young women to pursue STEM fields.
In 2019, she became the first Asian and the youngest person to win the Edie Sustainability Leader of the Year Award, the Oscars of the international sustainability community. Janice is a graduate of The University of Oxford as a full scholar under the prestigious British Chevening program. Currently, she is also raising awareness on the corrosive impacts of inequality, her well-received distillation of existing research and data on the social and economic impacts of inequality.