Women in Geospatial Technology Summit Co-hosted by Dr. Susan Hume

Over a hundred women gathered at the T-REX Innovation Conference Center in St. Louis, Missouri on June 27, 2019 for the St. Louis Regional Women in Geospatial Technology Summit.  The event was co-organized by SIUE Professor and Chair of the Department of Geography, Dr. Susan Hume and Mollie Webb, GIS Programmer/Instructor at Washington University and President of the Society of Woman Geographers.

“The summit was an opportunity to bring women together from diverse professions and help connect them,” said Hume. “I felt it was important to focus on geospatial technology in the St. Louis area because of its role in the region’s economy.”  The St. Louis Development Corporation recently calculated the local geospatial industry contributes $4.9 billion to the economy and directly employs nearly 11,000 people. “We had participants from really diverse fields, including the geospatial intelligence community, utility companies, engineering firms, county and municipal governments, and researchers and students from local universities.  We even had two recent Edwardsville High School grads from Kevin Paur’s AP Human Geography class” Hume added. Over twenty SIUE alumni and students attended the event.

Hume and Webb welcomed keynote speaker Dr. Odean Serrano, founder of the Counter Wildlife Trafficking Institute and Vice President of Geo-Analytics and Research for Chengeta Wildlife. She spoke about how she navigated a twenty-six-year career as a Latina at NASA and the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency before transferring her expertise to a non-profit combatting wildlife trafficking in African countries.

Presentations focused on the use of geospatial technologies in various fields, such as public health, utility networks, and geospatial intelligence. Presenters included two SIUE geography alumni–Bethany Marshall (2015) from VerticalGeo and Megan Tosh (2016) from Ameren.  SIUE alumna Becca Pulley (2007) from NGA served on a panel that explored the opportunities and challenges for women working in geospatial technology.  “The panel discussion was free flowing between panelists and audience members, which gave a lot of women a chance to have their voices heard in a public forum” said Hume.  She continued, “I had no idea women in the St. Louis region were so hungry for an event like this. Given the positive feedback we’ve had already, I think we will try to organize another summit next year.”

The event was presented by Southern Illinois University Edwardsville College of Arts and Sciences, Washington University Libraries, and the Society of Woman Geographers, with corporate sponsorship by Missouri American Water.

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