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Women and Forensic Science

Elizabeth Ortiz, MS, F-ABMDI

I remember the day when I saw the ad for a Pathologist’s Assistant in the former Rocky Mountain News. It was the third week of May and I remember this clearly because I had only been in Denver, Colorado a week and a half or so. I applied for the position and unfortunately did not get it, but I knew in my heart this was the career I wanted. So, I called and asked if I could volunteer. This was in 1992. The coroner at the time, Dr. Jill Gould, could not believe someone would want to volunteer for such a position and this earned me an interview. Ultimately, I was offered the position.

Nowadays, we have so many individuals wanting to experience a day in the shoes of a death investigator or working at the coroner’s office we now have an application process and certain criteria must be met. First and foremost, they have to be affiliated with a university and their field of study has to correlate to one of the following fields: biology, criminal justice, psychology or medicine (pre-med or medical student). The days of wondering why someone would want to spend time at the coroner’s office are long gone. It is no longer wanting to be creepy or thinking you are insane but rather how can you solve the puzzle. People want to learn about forensics and how to determine if the results support the evidence. Additionally, the majority of this group is made up of women.

According to an article by Penn State, forensic classes are made up of 74% female students. Another article written by Catherine Rushton and Nega Debela stated popular shows provided the direction into a forensic field in part due to the CSI shows on television. Overall, women are pursuing careers in the forensic sciences and making incredible strides. These young women have watched the fictional crime shows and these shows have planted a seed in their thought process to possibly make it a reality.

The success of the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) Program can be seen in the number of graduates from various forensically inclined schools. The term STEM was first coined in 2005 but by this time CSI had already been on air for five years. This possibly could have been the reason why the STEM Program has been somewhat a success since it is to the high interest of individuals wanting to know the answer to a “who dun it” mystery.

As a death investigator, the sciences have helped me in ascertaining various aspects of the crime but ultimately it is the passion of finding out the answers. Finding out “who dun it” and prosecuting them to the fullest extent that is extremely beneficial and rewarding. I personally would not trade it for the world.

Would you like to learn more about the online criminology programs at Regis?  Call 877-820-0581 or request more information today.