Mary Dowd: Program Director at New England Science & Sailing and Reach Instructor
It is International Day of Women and Girls in Science on Thursday, February 11! We would like to recognize US Sailing Reach Instructor Mary Dowd. Mary is the Program Director at New England Science & Sailing (NESS). The US Sailing Reach program utilizes sailing as an educational platform, challenging youth to embrace education, establish a love of learning and explore productive Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) based careers.
US Sailing had a brief chat with Mary about what inspired her to get involved in STEM education through sailing and why it’s so important for women and girls to pursue and explore these subjects.
US Sailing: What inspired you to pursue STEM in sailing as a professional area of focus?
Mary: “My life was changed by environmental education as a middle school student. I had the opportunity to go out on many different boats and learn all about the wildlife and issues surrounding the Chesapeake Bay. I was amazed that you could get paid to teach kids about nature and have a boat for an office. Having a career in STEM and sailing has allowed me the privilege to work and sail in some of the most beautiful places (Channel Islands, BVI, Hawaii, Lake Champlain and now the Long Island Sound). I’ve also had the pleasure of having co-workers who share my passion for getting kids out sailing and learning about their environment.”
US Sailing: Why do you think it’s important for women and girls to explore STEM subjects, especially Science?
Mary: “Women and girls need to see themselves in these fields. It can be intimidating being one of a few women in your science program in college or one of a few female on the crew of a boat. It was my female mentors who encouraged me to stay in biology and pursue a career in the field. As a program director for a program that gets kids out on boats and exploring STEM education, it’s my responsibility to be a role model for my staff and students by getting them out on the water and on the tiller as often as possible.