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Logo: International Women's Day

International Womenʼs Day is an opportunity to celebrate the social, professional, and cultural achievements of women all over the world. The Galapagos Initiative is home to incredible female leaders and scientists at UNC, USFQ, and at the Galapagos Science Center. For International Womenʼs Day this year, we will showcase seven of these accomplished women throughout the week.

Today we sit down with Anita Carrión, Assistant Director at the Galapagos Science Center.

What do you enjoy most about working with the GSC?

Working at the GSC has allowed me to develop management and leadership skills. Also, I learned a lot about the most recent findings of the diverse research that is conducted by our scientists.

Photo: A woman stands above a rocky coast while a wave crashes in the background.
Anita in Española Island-Galapagos on a field trip to conduct biological monitoring in visitor sites.

As part of this position, I also have the challenge to maintain a good relationship and coordinate actions with important local stakeholders such as the Galapagos National Park.

On top of all, I think that the most rewarding aspect of this position is that I have the opportunity to make connections with many different people from all over the world – scientists, teachers, students, and community members. Also, I enjoy showcasing the GSC research to diverse audiences. For example, I work closely with our Communication Coordinator to share the results of recent scientific studies. I often appear on the local radio station to explain what we are doing at the Galapagos Science Center. Small communities like the Galapagos rely on the radio as a primary line of communication, so we are trying to show up for them the best we can.

What motivates you outside of work?

I love to read! When I have time to relax I prefer to read the types of books that allow your imagination to run wild. I love anything by Isabel Allende, who is a Latin American magical realism writer. She has the ability to transport whoever reads her books to other realities. My favorites are Memories of the Eagle and Daughter of Fortune, among others.

I also enjoy painting mandalas and taking pictures of natural landscapes and animals. I love to photograph birds.

How has the Galapagos Initiative benefited from having women in leadership positions?

The Galapagos Science Center has an outstanding team conformed of women and men. All of us work hard to maintain the GSC as one of the most successful research centers in the Galapagos.

One interesting fact is that the majority of the GSC staff are women, who work in administrative and leadership positions.

Having women working at the GSC has multiple benefits. Sometimes, the management of the GSC logistics is difficult. However, we have overcome these difficulties using our problem-solving skills and being supportive as a team.

Women tend to be organized and pay attention to details. For example, my boss trusts me because I often catch details that he may miss. Also, women come up with strategies and steps to implement institutional plans. Sometimes, a big idea needs a plan to become a reality, and we women are creative and goal-oriented.

Women want to mentor other girls to undertake roles that traditionally were played by men. We want to create the opportunity to motivate future female scientists, that is why it is very important to me to mentor girls, teenagers, and students who want to be involved in science and technology.

Photo: A smiling woman wearing a purple jacket and black wading boots flashes a 'peace' sign in the foreground of a mountainous landscape.
Anita taking a break after a long walk in Llanganates National Park-Ecuador where she worked in a fauna monitoring project.

In the face of adversity, what allows you to forge ahead?

Before 2020, we were used to thinking ahead, about what we have to do for the next week or planning for the next month. However, last year we were forced to live each day individually to avoid anxiety and stress. Now, I believe living day by day or what we say in Spanish “un día a la vez” is helpful to stay present, positive, calm and enjoy every single day.

It is important for me to stay grateful for what I have now. I have a job. I have access to food. The most important mantra to me right now is to be thankful for who I am and who I have next to me. I am thankful for being alive.

What does International Womenʼs Day mean to you?

When I was a girl, I thought International Womenʼs Day was to recognize the beauty of women and to thank all their effort by giving chocolates and flowers. However, this Day is so much more than that. It is a chance for women to be recognized for their achievements.

Even though the gender gap has reduced and we have reached important milestones as a group, we have more to do. We want to have equal rights and access to education, equal salary, and decent job opportunities. Today is not just to say thank you for being a woman, but to recognize that strong women deserve much more than we have now.

Also, this day is an opportunity to say to the future female researchers: follow your heart, no matter what people tell you. If people tell you that you are not strong enough, prove to yourself you can do whatever you want to do. If you are not sure what you want to do, do not worry. Sometimes, life has prepared for you an unexpected path. Be brave and start to walk on it.

We must prove to ourselves that we are strong, capable, and intelligent. We are determined. We are women.

Written collaboratively by Kelly Weaver, Director of External Affairs & Communications, Center for Galapagos Studies; and Molly Herring ’23, UNC Global Studies and Biology.

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