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How Two Women Are Using Soap To Save The Sea

People

Pollution. We all know what it is. We recycle, we buy fuel efficient cars, but do we really know how deep the problem goes? While pollution is probably not something that consumes your day-to-day thoughts--chances are you’re more concerned with happenings on dry land than oceanic environments because--the reality is that our oceans are in trouble.


Cue Emily Callahan and Amber Jackson. These two brave women with curiosities surrounding our carbon footprint decided that they were going to challenge policy and dedicate their careers to studying marine systems.

After meeting in graduate school in a diving program, Callahan and Jackson began researching old rig removal throughout their thesis project. At the time, there was momentum around Rigs-to-Reefs, a law passed in California in 2010 that, “provides an alternative to complete rig removal in which an oil company chooses to modify a platform so that it can continue to support marine life as an artificial reef.” The problem was that there were 27 offshore platforms off the coast of California and none had been converted, so was it actually viable? This question prompted them to push forward researching this topic and potentially influence change.

Emily and Amber describe themselves as environmental consultants. The pair now run a company called Latitudes that assesses offshore marine structures (think oil companies, art installations, or any organization that puts structures into the water) to understand their ecological values. They both emphasized that it’s “very impactful to remove these structures, so we figure out what would be the least impactful way to get them out.” Despite these realities, there’s not a singular culprit in this equation.

"Everyone causes pollution, we’re just as responsible for the oil platforms being there as the oil companies are.”

- Emily Callahan and Amber Jackson

Amidst Emily and Amber’s research, an ecologically-conscious California-native named Jaeson Plon met Amber’s mother while surfing at the beach. Stories were exchanged and eventually introductions were made between him, Emily and Amber. As it turns out, Plon is a surfer, ocean lover and an entrepreneur who co-founded a company called Sea Bottle that produces a natural hand wash, keeping the ocean’s health in mind.

“Thirty percent of plastic bottles end up in the ocean and harm marine life. I wanted to create a safe formula with sustainable packaging that wouldn't damage the environment. There’s a pump on the glass bottle that becomes sea glass then sand, and the pump is reusable so you can refill it.”

- Jaeson Plon

The congruencies between their missions were unavoidable and hinged on their shared passion for recycling, especially when it came to massive rigs, some of the size of the Empire State Building. According to Plon, the moment they’re planted on the ocean floor, marine life begins to flourish around them. Because he was so fascinated by how these two female scientists were turning a negative into a positive through their research, he decided to donate a percentage of every Sea Bottle sale to Emily and Amber’s efforts.

Even still, it’s an ongoing battle. In terms of challenges, the ocean-minded duo admitted that they are usually the only women in the room at conferences and are the youngest by 30 years. “A big challenge for us is that it’s very easy to be looked at as little girls and people don’t take you seriously," says Jackson. "They’ll say things like ‘the ladies of blue latitudes are here.’ So you need to present your information as a man would. Being a woman also has its advantages though. We seem to make more of an impact because people are more interested.”

The argument is always us against them and we hope that moving forward we can actually change that.” Emily acquiesced. We don’t want to promote off-shore drilling at all, we have to understand the reality of our situation and seek more renewables.”

-Emily Callahan

With no pause in sight, this fiercely intelligent duo has seen a few examples of structures that have proven to be valuable, mostly in the Gulf of Mexico, and are planning a trip to Southeast Asia this spring to learn more about converted rigs around the globe.

Career

Male Managers Afraid To Mentor Women In Wake Of #MeToo Movement

Women in the workplace have always experienced a certain degree of discrimination from male colleagues, and according to new studies, it appears that it is becoming even more difficult for women to get acclimated to modern day work environments, in wake of the #MeToo Movement.


In a recent study conducted by LeanIn.org, in partnership with SurveyMonkey, 60% of male managers confessed to feeling uncomfortable engaging in social situations with women in and outside of the workplace. This includes interactions such as mentorships, meetings, and basic work activities. This statistic comes as a shocking 32% rise from 2018.

What appears the be the crux of the matter is that men are afraid of being accused of sexual harassment. While it is impossible to discredit this fear as incidents of wrongful accusations have taken place, the extent to which it has burgeoned is unacceptable. The #MeToo movement was never a movement against men, but an empowering opportunity for women to speak up about their experiences as victims of sexual harassment. Not only were women supporting one another in sharing to the public that these incidents do occur, and are often swept under the rug, but offered men insight into behaviors and conversations that are typically deemed unwelcomed and unwarranted.

Restricting interaction with women in the workplace is not a solution, but a mere attempt at deflecting from the core issue. Resorting to isolation and exclusion relays the message that if men can't treat women how they want, then they rather not deal with them at all. Educating both men and women on what behaviors are unacceptable while also creating a work environment where men and women are held accountable for their actions would be the ideal scenario. However, the impact of denying women opportunities of mentorship and productive one-on-one meetings hinders growth within their careers and professional networks.

Women, particularly women of color, have always had far fewer opportunities for mentorship which makes it impossible to achieve growth within their careers without them. If women are given limited opportunities to network in and outside of a work environment, then men must limit those opportunities amongst each other, as well. At the most basic level, men should be approaching female colleagues as they would approach their male colleagues. Striving to achieve gender equality within the workplace is essential towards creating a safer environment.

While restricted communication and interaction may diminish the possibility of men being wrongfully accused of sexual harassment, it creates a hostile
environment that perpetuates women-shaming and victim-blaming. Creating distance between men and women only prompts women to believe that male colleagues who avoid them will look away from or entirely discredit sexual harassment they experience from other men in the workplace. This creates an unsafe working environment for both parties where the problem at hand is not solved, but overlooked.

According to LeanIn's study, only 85% of women said they feel safe on the job, a 5% drop from 2018. In the report, Jillesa Gebhardt wrote, "Media coverage that is intended to hold aggressors accountable also seems to create a sense of threat, and people don't seem to feel like aggressors are held accountable." Unfortunately, only 16% of workers believed that harassers holding high positions are held accountable for their actions which inevitably puts victims in difficult, and quite possibly dangerous, situations. 50% of workers also believe that there are more repercussions for the victims than harassers when speaking up.

In a research poll conducted by Edison Research in 2018, 30% of women agreed that their employers did not handle harassment situations properly while 53% percent of men agreed that they did. Often times, male harassers hold a significant amount of power within their careers that gives them a sense of security and freedom to go forward with sexual misconduct. This can be seen in cases such as that of Harvey Weinstein, Bill Cosby and R. Kelly. Men in power seemingly have little to no fear that they will face punishment for their actions.


Source-Alex Brandon, AP

Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook executive and founder of LeanIn.org., believes that in order for there to be positive changes within work environments, more women should be in higher positions. In an interview with CNBC's Julia Boorstin, Sandberg stated, "you know where the least sexual harassment is? Organizations that have more women in senior leadership roles. And so, we need to mentor women, we need to sponsor women, we need to have one-on-one conversations with them that get them promoted." Fortunately, the number of women in leadership positions are slowly increasing which means the prospect of gender equality and safer work environments are looking up.

Despite these concerning statistics, Sandberg does not believe that movements such as the Times Up and Me Too movements, have been responsible for the hardship women have been experiencing in the workplace. "I don't believe they've had negative implications. I believe they're overwhelmingly positive. Because half of women have been sexually harassed. But the thing is it is not enough. It is really important not to harass anyone. But that's pretty basic. We also need to not be ignored," she stated. While men may be feeling uncomfortable, putting an unrealistic amount of distance between themselves and female coworkers is more harmful to all parties than it is beneficial. Men cannot avoid working with women and vice versa. Creating such a hostile environment is also detrimental to any business as productivity and communication will significantly decrease.

The fear or being wrongfully accused of sexual harassment is a legitimate fear that deserves recognition and understanding. However, restricting interactions with women in the workplace is not a sensible solution as it can have negatively impact a woman's career. Companies are in need of proper training and resources to help both men and women understand what is appropriate workplace behavior. Refraining from physical interactions, commenting on physical appearance, making lewd or sexist jokes and inquiring about personal information are also beneficial steps towards respecting your colleagues' personal space. There is still much work to be done in order to create safe work environments, but with more and more women speaking up and taking on higher positions, women can feel safer and hopefully have less contributions to make to the #MeToo movement.