A Women and Leadership Reflection on Rachel Carson

By Olivia Chatowski

As an Environmental Studies and Biology double major, I was thrilled to see Rachel Carson’s mini-bio amongst the rest of the female leader bios. After hearing about Carson’s legacy in my classes and reading pieces from her work I have always admired her. I am especially impressed with the impact she had on society for making complex environmental theories or ideas very accessible to the public to share the urgency and necessity of taking care of the environment. 

I have heard about Carson’s work, but I did not know all that much about her life and where she came from. Now that I do, I only admire her more. She was tutored by her mother who followed the nature study movement in which the child receives direct experience with nature in order to appreciate the environment scientifically and aesthetically. This is a really cool way of looking at nature which more people should consider, as nature is certainly not as appreciated as it should be. 

In school, Carson was drawn to the sciences as well as writing and majored biology and English, and went on to graduate school for zoology, despite the belief that women were not smart or fit enough to hold jobs in science. Carson was also attending school during the Great Depression, working several jobs, and supporting four other family members, highlighting her drive and love for science. Though she did have to drop out, she was still able to pursue a career as a writer in the US Bureau of Fisheries (US Fish and Wildlife Service), moving up in the ranks, and then eventually writing several very successful and impactful books. 

Rachel Carson, as the article points out was not a traditional leader, in the sense that she didn’t lead a protest or control a large group of people, but she did have an enormous impact on society, creating a movement of environmental awareness. She led within the group, as well as outside of it, calling out the large corrupt agriculture business lobbies and government bureaucracies. She was an advocate for nature rather than someone looking to exploit it.

While I was reading, I was truly inspired by Carson’s drive and commitment to her passion. Seeing another female not only succeed against the odds and leave a huge impact on society, and in a career that is similar to the one I wish to pursue.