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The WHOI Women's Committee

Established in 1973, the Women's Committee at WHOI is an elected committee responsible for considering matters of special concern to women. Each member is charged to make herself aware of pertinent issues and to be accessible to the women around her, to better represent them in the committee.

The eleven-member committee represents women in diverse positions at the Institution: Joint Program Students, Post-docs, members of the Scientific, Technical, and Exempt Administrative Staffs, and members of the Graded Administrative and Research Staffs.  The group meets monthly for discussion of current concerns and for planning occasional seminars and annual activities.


Contact any member individually, or as a group at Nominations and elections of new members are held annually and announced in the WHOI Headlines and also through the mailing list

Please note that both lists are for internal (WHOI) use only.  Inquiries from outside the Institution should be directed to the Information Office at or to the Human Resources Office at

Extraordinary Women

Spotlight on Sheila Payne

March 9, 2023
Sheila Payne

Sheila Payne, who started the Buttery that now resides in the Fenno building on WHOI’s Quissett campus, has a long history working at the institution. Sheila was honored that the Women’s Committee chose her to highlight for one of their posts celebrating Women’s History Month in March. Barbara Callahan, a longtime friend and colleague of…

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Off the Prow and onto the Deck

March 2, 2023
off the prow

How Women Oceanographers Overcame the Prohibition Against Going to Sea – Thursday, March 30 at 2 p.m. in Redfield Auditorium

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Today is the U.N. International Day of Women and Girls in Science

February 10, 2022

This year’s theme is equity, diversity, and inclusion: water unites us. Today the U.N. is hosting an assembly on achieving clean water for everyone, and the role of women and girls in science as agents of change in water sanitation, conservation, and access.  Here at WHOI, we are united by water. And we are committed…

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Paying homage to Alvin‘s first female-led science mission

August 12, 2021
Ruth Turner discusses logistics on R/V Lulu before diving in the sub with then-Chief Alvin Pilot Ralph Hollis, Friday, August 13th, 1971. (Photo by Anne Rabushka, © Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution).

Ruth Turner discusses logistics on R/V Lulu before diving in the sub with then-Chief Alvin Pilot Ralph Hollis, Friday, August 13th, 1971. (Photo by Anne Rabushka, © Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution).

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Marie Tharp: Pioneering Mapmaker of the Ocean Floor

March 11, 2021
Marie Tharp

Marie Tharp was a pioneering American geologist and oceanographic cartographer who helped create the first scientific map of the Atlantic Ocean floor.

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Women at Sea for Science

January 29, 2021

The story of women at sea on WHOI ships began quietly in the early 1950’s when the wives of researchers were allowed on ships with their husbands, but not as a science equal. Today, there are many high profile WHOI projects led by woman, including a multi-disciplinary effort to explore, understand and raise awareness of the ocean twilight zone with WHOI Senior Scientist Heidi Sosik as the science lead. WHOI is committed to equality and inclusion, and continues to honor the contributions of female scientists and engineers whose work inspired change and broke through gender barriers.

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Susan Humphris, Sharing Science Beyond the Sea

December 17, 2020

Over the 90 years since WHOI was founded , women have made incredible contributions to the Institution and to ocean sciences. As our knowledge of the deep has grown, sharing advances and educating the public is increasingly important . Susan Humphris, a marine geo chemist at WHOI, is not only a world class researcher, but a key player in expanding how ocean research is shared with a wider audience

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Cindy Van Dover “Just by asking, I could live my dream”

August 7, 2020

Cindy Van Dover was born in 1954 and grew up in New Jersey exploring varied and fascinating marine invertebrates every summer.

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Experience of a WHOI wife (Elizabeth “Chickie” Stommel)

June 18, 2020
Chickie Stommel

In the early days, many women joined the WHOI community as wives rather than as employees themselves. One such women was Elizabeth “Chickie” Stommel, who was married to renowned oceanographer Henry Stommel.

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Elizabeth “Betty” Bunce

May 6, 2020

“She had fashioned a remarkable career out of the oddest assortment of parts: athletic prowess, an atomic bomb, a Smith firing, nosiness, and smidgen of luck.”-Kim Robert Nilsen, “Oceans, Atoms and Earthly Secrets

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