Pod of the Week - NorCal

This week we get to know the Northern California pod - a group of women who don’t let traffic or distance prevent them from making change across SanFran, Davis and Sacramento. A few weeks ago these women stepped up to develop the Stand with Dr. Ford campaign. They are also brainstorming creative ways to connect and interact with other pods around the world - let them know if you want to help out with their efforts! This great is so inspirational and we can’t wait to see what they accomplish next!

Location: Northern California: A combined regional Pod for San Francisco Bay Area + Davis/Sacramento Area

Number of women: Over 170, spread across the region.

Frequency of meeting: Monthly online (conference call) meetings; events and meetings across the region on a monthly or every other month basis

Mission statement: The ethos of our pod echoes the Mission Statement of the national 500WS organization. We aim to serve society by improving the inclusivity and accessibility of the scientific enterprise. Not only do we support female-identifying scientists across Northern California, but we also work with young women interested in pursuing scientific careers. We also encourage members of our pod to engage in local issues related to science and lend their expertise where possible including through op-eds, public presentations, and engagement with aspiring scientists.



How did you come to this mission, why is it relevant to your city and state?As knowledge producers, we have a responsibility to ensure that our scientific efforts involve and support the incredibly diverse communities within our region and state.nThe San Francisco Bay Area and Sacramento/Davis regions are cultural, educational, and political powerhouses with the capacity to affect change across a wide geographic area and within the lives of millions of people from vastly different backgrounds. Additionally, our pod exists in a state that houses nearly two million undocumented individuals and in a region of California where approximately one-third of the population was not born in the United States. San Francisco is also considered to be the metropolitan area with the highest density of adults identifying as LGBTQ+. We aim to support and engage with our diverse population.


How have you grown your pod and ensured a diverse group of women scientists attend the pod meetings?We maintain an active online presence with two Twitter feeds, a Facebook account and a Slack discussion group. We prioritize having a diverse leadership team with women from different backgrounds and disciplines contributing to our group. Additionally, because of the sprawling nature of our group across a wide area, our geographically diverse pod helps shed light on different political and scientific issues of importance in Northern California.

 Can you talk about your past activities/successes, any favorites you want to share, and how they are important to your community?

 Some of our favorites!

  • We’ve had ‘postcard parties’ to support various causes over the past year.

  • We’ve attended marches together (Women’s March, March for Science, both 2017 and 2018).

  • We have a monthly conference call where we eat lunch together, update members on group activities, and have a topic of discussion. These have included topics such as: writing letters to the editor, how university departments and scientific societies can show leadership in addressing harassment, equity and inclusion, and diversifying your course syllabus.

  • Members of our North Bay group (north of San Francisco) support a local public science event (Science Uncorked) which is organized by two women scientists in our area.


What future plans to does your pod have?

  • We are beginning to work on a monthly blog that would feature women scientists in our region, and planning events across our region for Pod members to get together in person.

  • One of our leaders (Promita) is attending the Science Hack-a-Thon!

  • We would also like to connect with other pods across the nation, and we would love to know about the ways to do so (other than Twitter). This would keep us updated about the issues faced and overcome by regional pods, and we will get inspired too.



Pod Leaders:

 Priya Shukla - New members & pod communication & coordination with all CA Pods

Tessa Hill - Monthly conference call meetings

Promita Chakraborty - San Francisco area Twitter account, Blog posting/editing

Eliza Bliss-Moreau - Davis/Sacramento area Twitter account, Davis area events

Kate Hewett - Pod emails