Women’s History Month 2021

Every March we highlight the contributions of women to events in history and contemporary society.  This Women’s History Month 2021, we are honoring three great women of environmental science: Rachel Carson, Marjory Stoneman Douglas, and Sylvia Earle.

Rachel Carson (1907-1964)

Marine Biologist and nature writer Rachel Carson was born in 1907 in Springdale, Pennsylvania, just upstream from Pittsburgh.  She is most famous for her book Silent Spring (1962) which warned of the dangers of the misuse of chemical pesticides such as DDT on our natural environment.  She initiated the contemporary environmental movement.

She became a marine scientist working for the US Fish and Wildlife Service in Washington, DC in the 1930’s.   Her first book, Under the Sea-Wind (1941) was a gripping account of the interactions of a sea bird, a fish, and an eel, who shared the open seas.  The Sea Around Us (1951) is noted as a biography of the sea.  This was an international best-seller and elevated her as a trustworthy voice of science to the American public. Her third book The Edge of the Sea (1955) brought focus on ecosystems of the east coast from Maine to Florida.  However, it was her masterful work, Silent Spring, that started an international movement.  Our PA-DEP building is named after Rachel Carson in Harrisburg, PA, and at Suburban Testing Labs we’ve also named one of our conference rooms in her honor.

Marjory Stoneman Douglas (1890-1998)

Marjory Stoneman Douglas was a pioneer of the environmental movement, and is best known for her efforts to protect the Everglades in Florida.  She introduced the world to the “sawgrass swamp” in her book The Everglades: River of Grass.  The Everglades were considered a worthless swamp by many and she brought awareness to the harmful effects of draining and developing this valuable ecosystem.  Her book has been compared to Rachel Carson’s “Silent Spring” for its ability to change public opinion.

Florida Governor Lawton Chiles, once said of her “[Marjory] was not just a pioneer of the environmental movement, she was a prophet, calling out to us to save the environment for our children and our grandchildren.”

Sylvia Earle (1935 – Present)

Sylvia Earle is President and Chairwoman of Mission Blue.   She is an oceanographer, explorer, author and lecturer with experience as a field research scientist, government official, and director for several corporate and non-profit organizations.  Often referred to as the Jane Goodall of the Sea, Sylvia Earle inspired people everywhere to value our oceans. Earle received her PhD in phycology (the study of algae) in 1966. A deep diving pioneer, she has tied the overall record for a solo dive depth in 1986 (the first woman to do so), and founded Deep Ocean Engineering, a business that aims to improve the technology of robotic and piloted subsea systems.

She was awarded Time Magazine’s first Hero for the Planet designation in 1998, and has held the title of National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence since then. As the first woman to serve as Chief Scientist for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA), she was also the chair of the Advisory Council for the Ocean for Google Earth. An expert on the impact of oil spills, she was a crucial resource in the Exxon Valdez, Mega Borg, and Deepwater Horizon disasters.

Women at Suburban Testing Labs

STEM (Science Technology Engineering Math) careers worldwide continue to be dominated by men, and women account for less than a third (29.3%) of those employed in scientific research and development jobs across the world. Suburban Testing Labs is proud to be crashing through that glass ceiling: women comprise of 56% of our laboratory staff, 66% of our leadership team, 67% of our senior leadership team, and 47% of our workforce overall. We hire, promote, and train without gender bias.