Honoring Women in STEM: Kristina Douglass

What is your area of expertise and what is your research focus?

I am an archaeologist who studies human-environment interactions in the past and how those contribute to the landscapes we see today.

How did you end up in STEM? 

I have always been driven to answer questions about people and their environment and the approaches that most closely fit my interests and passion were from archaeology.

What hurdles or challenges (big or small) did you find as you pursued your career in STEM? What challenges do you face today? 

Mentorship and opportunities to develop technical skills have always been challenging to find. I still find it challenging to find opportunities to build my skill set, especially because of how many demands there are on my time to serve my academic communities.

What or who was an inspiration or support for you? 

Many experiences have inspired me to pursue a career in the study of the past. I grew up in a blended family of adoptees from many different countries, and learned early on that a people’s history is fundamental to shaping their worldview and decision-making in the present. I was also inspired by reading books like Nelson Mandela’s “Long Walk to Freedom,” which reaffirmed to me the importance of remembering the past to make our collective future more equitable and just.

Why is it important for women to be in STEM and specifically your field? 

A diversity of voices is crucial to ensuring that we build a robust understanding of the world and can use what we learn to improve conditions for all.

What can be done to recruit more women into STEM? 

We must dedicate more time and resources to providing well-funded training opportunities and professional opportunities that provide work flexibility to women who may be balancing work with care responsibilities at a higher rate than their male counterparts. We should also commit to anti-racism in our training and work practices since anti-racist approaches are highly effective at breaking down barriers to equal opportunity and representation.

What advice would you give to girls and young women going into STEM?

Find opportunities to get hands-on training and be explicit in asking other scientists to serve as mentors. Make it clear what your needs are and ask your network of mentors to help you meet those needs.