Hello LadyGeos!

At the end of last month, @geoarchandlush mentioned that she and I were working on a big project together. The news is twofold:

  1. February 11th is the International Day of Women and Girls in Science. This year, to honor the day, the Royal Academy of Science International Trust and the United Nations are releasing an open access book, #February11, with chapters discussing the state of affairs for women and girls who are in, or aspire to be in, STEM fields.
  2. HRH Princess Dr. Nisreen El-Hashemite asked @geoarchandlush and I to contribute a chapter to #February11. Of course, we agreed, because who can refuse a Princess Dr.?

Our chapter discusses various barriers women and girls face, related to STEM, through an intersectional lens and presents examples relevant to our experiences as graduate students and professionals.

At this point, you may be asking yourself, “How do Mackenzie and Leila know the Princess of Malta well enough to be asked to write a book chapter?”

The short answer:

We know her because of a series of hilarious, albeit panic inducing, events in 2016 and 2017.

The long answer:

Sometime in early 2016, I received an email from the Royal Academy of Science International Trust (RASIT) asking me to attend and speak at the United Nations’ 2nd Commemoration of the International Day of Women and Girls in Science. The conference was to be held on February 10 and 11, 2017 in Valletta, Malta.

At first, I thought this email was a scam, and like any good scientist, I wanted to see if my thought process was reproducible. So, I told @geoarchandlush about it. In the end, we determined the opportunity was real and set off to the conference together.

Upon arrival, we learned several important facts (per an email sent to Leila, but not to me):

  1. The conference had changed from a two-day conference to a one-day conference.
  2. The conference had “changed venues.”
  3. By a “change in venue,” they meant that it had moved from Valletta to New York City. (a change of a mere 4,594 miles, in case you were curious).
  4. There was no plan to accommodate the various people who had made travel plans, then traveled to Malta, without this knowledge.

As you might imagine, this information caused significant panic and confusion, so we reached out to the conference organizers. Among their responses, they told us that the information was correct, and after some pressuring (from us and others), they decided to hold a “parallel conference.” By “parallel conference,” they meant they were going to livestream the conference in New York while plying us with food and wine.

The “parallel” conference. Leila is not amused.

After meeting up with some other “parallel conference” participants, because we were (unsurprisingly) given the wrong address, we showed up to the “parallel conference,” and met with the others who were in our predicament.

Our irritation at having arrived at the address we were given, which was the wrong location.

While the “parallel conference,” we attended was not as good as the real thing, a lot of good came from the experience anyway.

Firstly, Malta is obviously not the worst place in the world to be stuck.

Beautiful Valletta, Malta.

Secondly, we made the local paper in an article entitled “Academics land in Malta for non-existent conference,” thanks to one of Leila’s friends. After applying additional pressure, we also have a funny letter from the Government of Malta stating their failure to warn us of the “venue change” in a timely manner.

Lastly, we managed to make some fantastic connections, including @geowitch and, apparently, HRH Princess Dr. Nisreen El-Hashemite (Princess of Malta).

New friends!

Thus ends the story of how Leila and I are on a (maybe/sort of/kind of) first name basis with the Princess of Malta. Looking forward to sharing #February11 with all of you!

Yours in LadyGeoscience,


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