Pod of the Week - San Diego


Location: San Diego, CA

Number of women: ~ 125 signed up in our Google Group

Frequency of meeting: Once per month, trying to get more social gatherings up and going

Mission statement: Promote equality and inclusivity while advocating for science in our community.

We are focused on providing an engaging, inclusive and supportive community for women scientists. The diversity of San Diego provides strength to the region and we as a group strive to promote this diversity within our scientific communities. To protect our unique San Diego environment, we seek to increase scientific literacy through coordinated efforts with the public, policy, academic, non-profit and private sectors.

To achieve our mission we:

  • Provide a source of education, mentorship and support for all self-identifying women in science.
  • Promote equality, diversity and inclusivity in science
  • Increase scientific literacy and advocate the role of science in our society

We look forward to serving the San Diego community.

How did you come to this mission, why is it relevant to your city and state?

Our first two meetings this year were focused on designing our mission as a group. At our last meeting in April we collectively adopted a mission statement. In March during our first meeting of 2018, we performed a vision exercise to start designing the key elements of our mission statement. During this exercise we asked everyone there three questions:

  1. In your opinion, what are the most pressing challenges to science currently in San Diego
  2. What would you like for our 500WS pod to represent and promote in our community
  3. What I would like from or for myself as a member of the San Diego pod is…

We constructed a draft of our mission statement based on the women’s responses. In April the pod discussed the draft and edited it together to come up with the final version. This was an amazing experience to complete an action exercise with a group of women and achieve what we set out to do. This is part of an important element we want to establish in reactivating the pod - and that is we are setting goals and completing them together.

How has your pod ensured a diverse group of women scientists attend the pod meetings? Our pod was dormant for a few months, but we’ve invigorated it by taking to social media and hosting monthly meetings to encourage women to join the group.  When we re-energized the pod in February, we had ~70 members - now it’s grown to over 125 and it is a diverse group of women. We want everyone to participate and to take leadership in the pod. We have been lucky to have a lot of diversity with regards to the types of scientific fields our members represent and we have women at all stages of their careers joining from high school all the way to retirees. We are also looking to partner with other women and minority in groups in the San Diego area to reach a diverse group of women.


What is your pod focusing it's energy on in 2018? We are lucky that San Diego has such a rich scientific community and we want to build a great resource for the many women in science here. Right now we are focused on continuity. Our leadership goal is to keep showing up so the women in our pod know that we are reliable. We are communicating weekly and hosting monthly meetings on the third Tuesday of each month. As more women take leadership roles there will be more events to attend and ways to get involved.


Your pod has shown interest in speaking out against the proposed border wall between US and Mexico. How does the border wall affect women in STEM, and what can we do to help support those who would be affected? The proposed border wall affects women in STEM in so many different ways. The border wall issues are literally being dealt with in San Diego’s backyard. To many across the nation, the new proposed wall project may seem like an abstract issue that might never be completed, but prototypes have already been built here and our tax dollars are being used to secure the project area.  In addition to the numerous obstructions of human rights and civil liberties this literal barrier presents, which threatens the diversity of San Diego as well as our scientific community, the environmental implications of the proposed wall are startling. Women scientists performing research in the border region already endure issues with accessing their experiment sites, transporting specimens, safety and dealing with border patrol and the proposed project will likely only exacerbate these issues. As scientists and allies we must use our voices to communicate to our representatives the profound damage this border wall will have on the environment, our communities, our freedom, and scientific progress.

We are asking our pod and the 500 Women Scientists organization to get behind a this issue by urging our representatives to support California Attorney General Xavier Becerra’s appeal to reverse the recent court decision in which U.S District Court Judge Gonzalo Curiel ruled that the Trump Administration did not abuse its power by waiving environmental laws during the rush to start the border wall project. Before this project is allowed to continue, environmental impact studies need to be completed, this is a critical piece in keeping our citizens free and safe. Scientists who conduct research in this area are subject to retaliation, by working together we can preserve our desert heritage in Southern California by making sure our voices are heard, valued and respected.


Pod Leaders: Christ Trexler (Molecular Biologist) & Alicia Amerson (Marine Biologist)