A compassionate industry, but one with room to grow

By |  January 2, 2019
Dr. Faith Oi

Dr. Faith Oi
PHOTO: HEATHER GOOCH

University of Florida (UF) entomologist Dr. Faith Oi says she is proud to be part of an industry that is so charitable.

“Many companies very quietly provide services pro bono, so that people who cannot afford pest control can live in healthier environments or have their homes protected from wood-destroying organisms,” she says. “UF’s Entomology and Nematology Department is named Steinmetz Hall due to the philanthropy of [PMP Hall of Famer] Chuck Steinmetz [Class of 2017]. The industry endows positions at universities. PestVets helps veterans transition from the military into careers in pest control.”

But there is one aspect of entomology that concerns Dr. Oi these days: She and many of her colleagues want to know why there is a “leaking pipeline” when it comes to retaining women in the field. According to the Entomological Society of America (ESA), in 2007, the student member composition was almost 50 percent female to male, but by the time they reached “member status,” male entomologists outnumbered females by a ratio of more than 4 to 1.

“In 2017, there were 1.5 times more female student members than male, but by the time they reached ‘member status,’ male members outnumbered females by 2.7 times,” Dr. Oi reports. “We’re currently looking at how entomology and pest control might change for the better if the work force better reflects the demographics of the general population, because it could affect the kind of science that is produced for the industry.”

She points to a September 2018 article in the ESA’s Entomology Today publication, for more information. But readers, we want to know: What are your thoughts on why this issue continues to occur? Are entomologically minded women dropping out of the work force, or are they simply not joining professional networks?

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