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Posted: March 8, 2018

Happy International Women’s Day

Today, VAST Resource Solutions Inc. recognizes and celebrates International Women’s Day (March 8) by introducing you to one of our biologists Becky Phillips, who, among other roles, will be heading up the 2018 Urban Deer Translocation study for the City of Kimberley. She joined VAST in December as a Senior Resource Technician.

Our female colleagues bring a perspective and approach to VAST that enriches the creativity and insight of projects.  We are pleased to see a growing number of women entering the #STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Math) field and acknowledge the significant contributions women have made throughout history to advancing science.

VAST’s Senior Resource Technician, Becky Phillips, was raised in Cranbrook. She received her Bachelor of Science in Geography from UVIC before heading to a protected forest in Ecuador (home to monkeys and jaguars) on a six-month work placement through College of the Rockies.

After her work there, which focused around securing grants to fund biology research, Phillips officially started her career in Vancouver with the Northwest Wildlife Preservation Society. Her job brought her across B.C. teaching kids about local wildlife through workshops and other education programs.

“After a while I decided to come back home to the Kootenays and ended up getting a job for Fish and Wildlife as a wildlife technician,” says Phillips.  “When I was hired, they were just starting an elk monitoring study; they had collared 40-plus elk, so my main task was to follow up and track the collared elk. That work evolved into other things: I worked on grizzly bear, cougar and wolverine DNA studies, captured and collared mule deer, and participated in various ungulate inventories.

“Often the goal was to figure out populations, take inventory; know survival rates. Part of the job was responding to mortality signals – if a collared animal died we would get an alert signal, so you would sometimes get a text in the middle of the night and you’d have to go out first thing the next morning and try to determine the cause of death.”

When Phillips first started her career, she found she was in a mostly male-dominated field.

“I think we definitely need more women in science. It’s important,” she says. “And the good news is over the years I have seen the demographics slowly changing. When I first started there were lots of men in the office, however over the last five years, there’s been folks retiring, and a lot of bright young women are coming up and taking on key roles. It’s awesome.”

And although Phillips has seen more and more women start and advance careers in STEM fields, she knows first-hand they can face some unique challenges.

“One of the things we don’t talk about a lot, but I think it’s important, is the challenge for women of balancing career with having a family,” she says. “I have a one-year-old and four-year-old. So, taking care of the kids, running a house, advancing my career — it’s hard. It is. I don’t want to speak on behalf of all women, but certainly that is a very real challenge for me. VAST is flexible and allows me the opportunity to work three days a week. Which is good. I want to work. I like my work. It’s important to me. But so is being there for my kids as they grow up.”

#STEM #Engineering #biology #science #WomeninScience #Internationalwomensday2018

Lead image: Patrick Stent and Becky Phillips (right) prepare to collar a sedated Mule Deer. Photo submitted

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