Geospatial experts helping women build careers as geographic information systems analysts

October 16, 2020

The following content first appeared on the news page while UMass Global operated under its former name of Brandman University.

IRVINE, Calif. (Oct. 16, 2020) – Female geospatial professionals join with Brandman University to inspire and motivate other women to enter their field by sharing the personal accounts of achievement and tenacity that highlight their career stories in a series of webinars.

As experts in the field of geographic information systems, or GIS, they are helping audiences understand its real-world applications. GIS is a framework to organize, communicate, and understand information by means of mapping software that blends datasets with geographic imagery.

Brandman University and Women in GIS are hosting the webinar series, in which GIS practitioners discuss their experiences entering their field and acquiring proficiency as geospatial analysts.

“We are so excited to be able to work with Brandman University to provide a format for female role models in the geospatial community to discuss and highlight their personal career stories,” said Carley Fitzgerald, professional development committee lead for Women in GIS. “Real-world representation by successful role models is so important to anybody in the field, from the seasoned professional to an ambitious student.” 

Webinar guests elucidate relevant topics in their field. The webinars are a forum for talks on GIS’ value as a tool for political and social activists, the technology’s role in helping public health officials confront the COVID-19 pandemic, how GIS facilitates analysts’ use of storytelling techniques to contextualize data, and ethical concerns surrounding the use of data in public policy.

“This collaboration is extremely timely today, as we highlight the outstanding contributions women are making to the field of geographic information systems,” said Sheila Lakshmi Steinberg, Brandman faculty president and professor of GIS, social and environmental sciences. “Women are a resilient and powerful force in the GIS field.”


  • Women in GIS: Social Justice
    Originally webcast on March 31, this webinar features GIS analyst Sophia Garcia of the Bakersfield-based Dolores Huerta Foundation in a discussion on how GIS can be employed to draw legislative boundaries that are more likely to result in equitable political representation. Garcia also speaks on support and guidance she received from family and mentors.
  • Right Place, Right Time: Sharing the Value of GIS for COVID-19 Response
    Originally webcast on May 5, this webinar features Dr. Este Geraghty of GIS software developer Esri in a conversation on how GIS can be employed to safeguard public health. Geraghty is chief medical officer of Esri, a leading GIS technology firm based in Redlands, California. She also relates to viewers how she made difficult decisions during the early part of her career.
  • Effective Storytelling Using ArcGIS Storymaps
    Originally webcast on July 28, this webinar features Esri product manager Jennifer Bell in a conversation that includes her personal career story and real-world examples of GIS based StoryMaps.
  • Careers of Women in GIS: How To Be Ethical with Data
    Originally webcast on Oct. 13, this webinar features founder and whistleblower Rebekah Jones. Jones discusses her recent experiences in the national spotlight after she took a stance against improper activities related to the reporting of coronavirus data by the Florida Department of Health. Jones also shares how she continued with her career after her departure from the department by founding a nonprofit that publishes data dashboards for COVID-19 transparency.

Brandman promotes geospatial analysis as an essential skill for decision makers in the worlds of business, government and nonprofit services. In August, the university announced five new certificate programs, stackable to degrees, for students who are interested in picking up GIS skills. Brandman added these offerings to existing degree and certificate programs centered on geospatial analysis.

The School of Extended Education at Brandman University has additional webinars archived for viewers interested in professional development in several topics. Other webinars focus on such subjects as behavioral health, business, data science and education. More information is available here.


Brandman University is a private, nonprofit institution accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission. As part of the Chapman University System, Brandman blends a legacy of academic excellence with innovative programs and support services designed for students with busy schedules. The university offers undergraduate, graduate, credential and certificate programs designed to be relevant to more than 90 career paths. Brandman serves about 22,000 students, about 14,000 of whom are degree-seeking students, at 25 physical campuses in California and Washington, as well as online. Brandman offers fully-online courses for students anywhere in the United States and for military personnel serving abroad. For additional information, visit the university’s

Women in GIS is an international, professional, and social advocacy group for women and their allies. The purpose of Women GIS is to serve as a safe place for women from all geospatial fields to work towards overcoming job discrimination, lower pay, professional isolation, and other common barriers women might face.

Media Contacts:

Terri M. Carbaugh, Brandman University Vice Chancellor of Public Affairs: [email protected]

Andrew Edwards, Brandman University Senior Multimedia News Writer: [email protected]


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