Book Review | Women and GIS: Mapping Their Stories

Blog Post created by MSingleton-esristaff Employee on Mar 22, 2019

Happy Women's History Month! Over the last few weeks, the Women's Empowerment and Career Advancement Network (WeCan) at Esri posted stories, resources, and more to help you learn about and participate in WHM. To honor women in GIS this month, here's a review of a recently-published book from Esri entitled Women and GIS: Mapping Their Stories. From census experts and ecologists to human rights advocates and more, these women solve global problems through GIS.


To preface, I'm scratching the surface with this book review. Everyone should read the book in its entirety--it's definitely a good kick start to continue your own professional evolution. To pick up a copy on Amazon, click here.


Deep Thoughts 

I can't say enough good things about this book. Yes, I'm an Esri employee, but I'm also a bibliophile dedicated to honest book critiques. This book is easy-to-digest (great for working professionals), and the case studies cover a breadth of disciplines. I wasn't reading a single narrative applied narrowly, which reinforces the beauty of GIS; you can solve many problems with geospatial solutions. 


More importantly, the lessons are universally applicable. Gender is important and it's crucial to keep the conversation of gender equity alive, but this book is not just for women in GIS. As such, I encourage you to share this book with your circle of influence. When everyone is aware of the problems and part of the solutions, we're closer to collective success. 



What's a good book without some inspiring takeaways to write on a sticky note? Here's what I learned: 


  • Overcome Adversity

How many of y'all have heard STEM is too hard for women? I have, and it's an unfortunate opinion that's cuts across cultures and generations. Overcoming adversity isn't a uniquely female experience, but the women in this book use challenges as learning opportunities, not deterrents.


Wan-Hwa Cheng, a GIS and data analyst dedicated to green sea turtle research and conservation, was told GIS is hard. She said, "...growing up in Taiwan, I did encounter people who think men are better than women and [that] women should not receive higher academic degrees but be more marriage-minded." She overcame these challenges and followed her passion to become a celebrated researcher and champion for environmental sustainability. 


  • Be Creative

Even if you think there isn't a strong place for creativity in science, these women refute that notion. Dr. Catherine Ball, an innovator, entrepreneur, and advocate for #dronesforgood movement, always has an artist at the decision-making table. In the book, the authors reference Leonardo da Vinci: " is creative, and scientists always do better work when they approach their problems creatively." 


  • Lift as You Climb 

These women could sit back and revel in their success, but they pay it forward. Miriam Olivares, a GIS research evangelist at Yale, dedicates herself to guiding and educating those who seek to make a difference through GIS and geospatial technology. Her efforts, along with many others highlighted in this book, make it easier for all women in STEM to succeed. 


To pick up a copy of Women and GIS: Mapping Their Stories on Amazon, click here.



News About Women and GIS: Mapping Their Stories

Women and GIS: Mapping Their Stories | Esri Press

Esri Recognizes Women’s Contributions to GIS in New Book | Business Wire  

Esri Press Releases Women in GIS: Mapping Their Stories | GIS Lounge  


Story Maps for WHM

WeCan @ Esri  

Women in GIS: Helping Map a Better World - A story map by Morgan State University 


Other Cool Blog Posts for WHM from Esri 

Happy Women's History Month! 

Happy International Women's Day  


Share how you celebrate Women's History Month in the comments below!



Meg Singleton | WeCan Lead