Pod of the Week

We've said it before, but 500WS is a truly global organization! We have 146 pods in the US, and also 145 spread across the world! Every week or so we highlight a pod that has gotten off the ground and is making progress in their own community. This week that pod is Vancouver, BC. Jen Rowland is leading the group and changing perceptions of what a scientist looks like. Keep up the great work team!


Location: Vancouver, BC

Number of women: 34 on the email list, 144 twitter followers, 5-7 regularly attend meetings

Frequency of meeting: Once per month, but we're taking a summer break :)

Mission Statement The members of the Vancouver pod of 500 Women Scientists aim to promote accessibility, diversity and inclusivity in science. We own the term scientist and broaden the image of a scientist, by building a community amongst ourselves and engaging with the community around us in the following ways:

  • Highlighting the work of local women scientists through public speaking and community action.
  • Promoting the work of women scientists in resource-limited settings to improve the global capacity of women in science.
  • Changing the advancement narrative for women in science by supporting and promoting each other.
  • Empowering women in science by promoting inclusion of women as the subjects of research, in developing research, securing funding for research, business, or non-profit endeavors, and achieving leadership positions.

We welcome all self-identifying women, those who are non-binary, or gender non-conforming, engaged in science. We broadly define science to include not just biology or engineering, but math, psychology, social sciences, linguistics, archeology, and beyond. Whether you’re in academia, industry, government, healthcare, or at a non-profit/NGO, you’re welcome to join 500 Women Scientists in Vancouver.

500 Women Scientists Vancouver acknowledges that we live, work, and meet on the traditional, ancestral, and unceded Indigenous territories of the ʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), and sel̓íl̓witulh (Tsleil-Waututh) First Nations.

What drove the development of a pod in Vancouver?

I saw the global reach of 500 Women Scientists and thought Vancouver could really use a pod, especially considering how many people come to Vancouver from all over the world. There are several well-established Women in STEM groups in Vancouver, with varying missions and goals. These groups are very successful locally, provincially, and in influenced government policy, so I thought adding an international component would be great. Initial interest was pretty low but this year’s Women’s March gave us a boost and prompted our first meeting.

How did you come your mission, why is it relevant to your community?

We brainstormed our mission statement during our first meeting, talking about our goals and needs. We want our community to know that scientists come from all backgrounds, and work in many different fields and positions. The science and tech industries in Vancouver are still heavily dominated by men, so part of our mission is to stand up for ourselves, coworkers, and friends to say “We are scientists!” We also include an Indigenous land acknowledgment, to recognize that we in Vancouver are on the ancestral, unceeded lands of many First Nations groups.

Your pod participated in the March for Science this year. What are some women in science issues that the Vancouver pod is particularly interested in shining a light on?

We want to raise awareness that a scientist can be anybody, and can look like anybody. Additionally, women are not often seen or recognized as leaders, and we wanted to show that we are! In fact, this year’s March for Science in Vancouver was primarily organized by women, and the majority of speakers were women. This year’s March also asked attendees to promote positive messages in science, so our signs reflected that.

Do you have exciting initiatives lined up for 2018? If so, what are they and what is the target audience?

Our next big event will be an end of summer picnic, to gather our members, family and friends, to engage and enjoy our beautiful city. It will also serve as a kick-off for a fall membership drive


Jennifer Rowland (pod leader): Jen is a microbiologist who has lived all over the US (except the east coast!) and now lives and works in Vancouver, Canada. Jen has studied everything from bacterial transcription regulation, to infectious mechanisms of Tuberculosis. Jen is currently studying how Salmonella takes over host cells for successful infection. Outside of the lab Jen enjoys running, skiing, and exploring British Columbia.