W&M Geology Celebrates 100 Years of Women

Homecoming 2018 has come and gone.  The Geology Department kicked off the weekend early with a celebration of its own – we invited our alums and friends to campus to highlight the achievements of W&M women geoscientists. Our celebration was a unique part of the year-long series of university-wide events that celebrate 100 Years of Women and their contributions to William & Mary.

Geology and the earth sciences have long been a discipline dominated by male scientists, yet since the founding of W&M’s Geology department, back in the 1960s, we’ve worked to change that. The W&M Geology department has graduated a legion of smart and strong females who’ve gone on to great things beyond Williamsburg. Over the past 53 years the department has graduated more than 430 women, and more than 47% of all our graduates are women. In the 2010s, we’ll graduate more geology majors than in any previous decade, and the majority of our graduates are women (or identify as women). The department’s long been recognized as a national leader in gender equity for geoscience departments and we’re proud of that.

W&M Geology graduates by decade. Note- since the 1980s the department has graduated equal numbers of males and females. The 2010s will have the most Geology gradates of any previous decade.

The two-day event kicked off with a geoscience science symposium, and we invited six distinguished alums back to discuss their science and careers.  It was a remarkable show, and the big lecture hall in the Integrated Science Center was filled with a diverse audience of students, faculty, and the public.

Dr. Becky Flowers ’98 answers questions regarding the age and origin of the Grand Canyon at the geoscience symposium.

Seema Turner ’93 answers questions at the geoscience symposium.

Our speakers, who graduated over a five decade span, work in a variety of fields from volcanology to paleoecology, from industry to academics, and investigate systems from the hydrosphere to distant planets. The topics were suitably varied and our speakers painted a vibrant picture of the earth sciences and its critical relevance to society. At the symposium’s conclusion, W&M’s Deputy Chief Diversity Officer Dania Mantos told me she’d been immensely inspired by what she’d just witnessed – trust me, she wasn’t the only one who felt moved by what had just transpired during the geoscience symposium. It was powerful.


Title slides for the geoscience symposium neatly illustrating the breadth of the topics discussion.

Afterwards, we retired to the Geology department for a lively reception. Here, students in our Association for Women Geoscientists chapter have crafted a W&M Geology ‘Wall of Fame’, that celebrates the contributions and careers of our women alums. If you are on campus, come by the 2nd floor of McGlothlin-Street Hall and check it out. It’s fabulous.

Friday brought alumnae visits to classes, a networking lunch in the Wren Building, and an afternoon reception in Geology’s ever-growing Rock Garden.

A meeting of the minds! Professor Jim Kaste, center, works the crowd into a kinesthetic icebreaker on the portico of the Wren Building. W&M Geology alums on the left and current W&M Geology students on the right.

The event was a wonderful rush of energy and excitement. It was heartening to see so many alums return to campus, as well as people from across the William & Mary community participate in this event. We were delighted to celebrate the successes of William & Mary GeoWomen for all to see, but ultimately the goal of this event was to inspire and encourage the next generation of smart and strong William & Mary GeoWomen.


Special thanks to Carol Roe, Caroline Abbott, Hope Duke, and Joanne Ensley for helping make the Celebration a reality. Your hard work was critical in making this successful.

A few more pictures

My COLL 100 course with a bevy of excited alums (in the back) joining class for some Friday morning ‘learning’.

Networking over lunch in the Wren Building.

Geology’s Homecoming reception in the rock garden on a delightful fall afternoon.

William & Mary Geology alums Dr. Meg Blome ’04 and Dr. Meredith McCool ’04 take a selfie!

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1 Comment
  1. Kathie Driscoll

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