News and Views
"It was important to me that I worked in an area where I felt I was making the world a better place."
This year on International Women's Day (IWD) the United Nations (UN) is highlighting “Gender equality today for a sustainable tomorrow”. Advancing gender equality in the context of the climate crisis and disaster risk reduction is one of the greatest global challenges of the 21st century. Women are increasingly being recognized as more vulnerable to climate change impacts than men, as they constitute the majority of the world’s poor and are more dependent on the natural resources which climate change threatens the most.
On IWD we spoke to Dr Jean O’Dwyer, Deputy Director of iCRAG, lead of the iCRAG-GSI Environmental Geoscience PhD Programme, Deputy Head of Environmental Science and Lecturer at the School of Biological, Earth & Environmental Sciences in UCC.
- Why did you choose this career?
Growing up, I always wanted to be a scientist and as I got older, I realised it was important to me that I worked in an area where I felt I was making the world a better place. In my teens, awareness of environmental issues was increasing and the public discussion surrounding environmental impacts was getting louder. I decided I wanted to be part of the discussion and went on to do a degree in Environmental Science and never looked back!
- What is the one thing you want the public to understand about climate change?
From my perspective, the main thing to understand is that any problem we have had the power to cause, we also have the power to solve, and climate change is no different. The last ten years have been some of the hottest years on record, but they’ve also been some of the hottest years in scientific research and innovation. While it’s easy (and often appropriate) to feel overwhelmed by the Climate Crisis, we must remember that we – all of us – have the power to make things better. Now is a time for unity, togetherness and voicing a shared desire to live in a sustainable, better world.
- What advice would you give to a young girl thinking of a career in your discipline?
Go for it! Environmental Science is a rewarding and inspiring discipline which gives you the opportunity to work with amazing men and women all over the world, solving grand challenges. There is no room for gender bias within Environmental Science- we all share this one planet and collectively, we can and will work together to protect it.
Follow Jean on Twitter @DrJeanODwyer
Irish researchers uncover link between climate change and mental health - a recent Irish Examiner article on Jean's research