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Building and Retaining Gender Diversity in University Forestry Programs: A Case Study of SWIFT at the University of Maine

Faced with low populations of women in the SAF-accredited Forestry program at the University of Maine, a group of faculty and students created SWIFT, for Supporting Women in Forestry Today. The goal of SWIFT is to support and encourage women in their forestry education and careers by providing tools to help recognize and overcome barriers and by fostering a more inclusive climate. This seminar discusses how SWIFT functions and has adapted over time. We also highlight findings from participant observations by the all-volunteer planning team and the results from two anonymous surveys distributed in 2016 and 2019. In terms of recognizing and overcoming barriers, SWIFT participants reported that they had gained new education, skills, and strategies, and had actively supported other women and spoken up more. In terms of fostering a better climate, SWIFT participants stated that they had improved connections with other women in the department and had increased feelings of belonging. We close with some thoughts on the role of groups like SWIFT in professional and educational forestry settings.

Presenter: Dr. Mindy Crandall, Assistant Professor of Forest Policy, Department of Forest Engineering, Resources, and Management, Oregon State University