Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Meet Your CSWA Intern, Rachel Wexler

Flight suit photo at NASA Langley in June!
Rachel Wexler is a fourth-year undergraduate student in the School of Public Policy at Georgia Tech. She will graduate in spring 2020 and continue studying at Georgia Tech to earn a master’s degree in public policy. Throughout her time at Tech, she has worked as a research assistant on a project that examines the transmission of knowledge about women in science and technology. Rachel is originally from Sanibel Island, Florida. She is currently leading the CSWA's write up of recommendations to the AAS based on our survey findings.

What is a public policy student at Georgia Tech?

Public policy students at Georgia Tech study a combination of politics, economics, sociology, statistics, and research methods to prepare for a future as problem-solvers in the public and private sectors.

Describe the first time you made a personal connection with public policy.

I come from a family with strong connections to politics and government – My dad is a lobbyist, and my mom and my sister have both worked in political journalism. Studying policy at Georgia Tech has helped me discover that I am less interested in politics and more interested in the nuts and bolts of policy research, evaluation, and implementation.

How did you end up working with the CSWA on this project?

Last summer, I had the incredible opportunity to intern with the Astrophysics Division of the Science Mission Directorate at NASA. While at NASA, I worked with the CSWA to help create policy recommendations for the science funding agencies (NASA/NSF) to help end harassment and advance career development for women and other under-represented groups in astronomy. This semester, I have been working with the CSWA to draft recommended actions for the AAS to take to work towards greater diversity and inclusion in astronomy. We plan to submit this work to BAAS, and I will present our progress as an iPoster at the AAS meeting in January! The past year has been a whirlwind – I still can’t believe I had the opportunity to intern at NASA, and I am thrilled to be able to travel to Hawaii and present the work I have been doing with the CSWA. I want to thank the CSWA for giving me this opportunity, especially, Pat Knezek, who brought me on board through NASA’s internship program and is an amazing woman and mentor!

Who inspired you?

I am inspired by so many incredible women, I don’t even know where to start! My interest in gender equity in the workplace probably started with my mom, who started working in journalism at a time when there were very few women in the field. I am also inspired by my Georgia Tech mentor, Dr. Mary Frank Fox, who is a prolific researcher in studies of gender, science, and technology. I draw a lot of inspiration from the friends I have made at Georgia Tech, who are all working hard in their fields and will go on to do great things in their careers.

What community issues are important to you and why?

I am fascinated by the benefits of diversity. Studies show that diverse groups are more likely to devise creative solutions to problems, and that when women are in charge, new, important questions get asked. I am most interested in workplace climate, because the benefits of diversity come to life in environments where everyone feels safe, valued, and excited. In my career, I hope to continue to research and implement creative strategies to improve the climates of all kinds of organizations.

What do you do for fun?

I play a lot of board games with my friends. When I’m at home in Florida, I love to go to the beach and swim in the ocean.

What are your goals as a part of the CSWA?

I hope that the work that I have done with the CSWA serves as a helpful resource as they continue to advise the AAS and plan out new initiatives in the coming years.

What are your future plans?

Not sure yet, but I am excited to work on my master’s at Georgia Tech and start exploring job opportunities after that!

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