This is an as-told-to essay based on a conversation with Rosie Moore, a 26-year-old geoscientist and model based in Florida. The essay has been edited for length and clarity.
I’m originally from middle-of-nowhere Missouri. I grew up with brothers and the log cabin wood aesthetic. We always had four wheelers and creeks and stuff like that, so I think that’s definitely why I’m outdoorsy.
My whole life I thought sharks were the coolest thing, so I thought, “I’m going to go to Florida and find a way to work with sharks.” I moved to Florida when I was 20 to attend Florida Atlantic University and study environmental science. In graduate school I studied geosciences, which includes remote sensing and GIS, basically using data to figure out where things are and why. I worked a lot with water resources, as well as invasive reptiles and crocodilians.
Now I work in the public sector for the city of Delray doing water resource management. I also do other things on the side, including python hunting, shark diving, and tagging of various species like alligators.
I also model.
People always joke on Instagram that I’m like Hannah Montana, because I’ll post and I’ll be out in the field doing crazy things or up to my waist in mud, and then the next thing they know I’ll be at a luxury event in full hair and makeup and heels and a dress.
Being a woman in science
My work is right in between biology and tech, which are both pretty male dominated. When I was interviewing for my first geoscience position, I did three or four interviews and every single one was almost entirely males in the room. It would be an interview of six middle-aged men and then me, and when women were present they were either secretaries or junior staff.
A lot more women are entering the biological sciences, but the people who hold the most experience and seniority are still overwhelmingly male, and in tech it’s even more skewed. It’s going take a while for more women to take hold of leadership positions.
I always encourage women to go into these fields, especially tech. You’re going deal with having mostly male classmates and other things like that, but at the end of the day, it’s definitely worth it and a cool thing to accomplish.
I’ve seen a lot of really amazing things working with wildlife for so many years. One of the coolest things was watching wild crocodilian babies hatch, actually coming out of their shells.
I love the unpredictability. You never know what you’re going to see. You can go out thinking it’s a normal day but then you find the most elusive snake that you’ve never seen before in your life and it could be the craziest night.
As a model, when people find out you’re a scientist their respect for you changes
I actually started modeling because I got into free diving and shark diving after I moved to Florida. There’s a little niche for girls that can free dive well to model with sharks or underwater, so I started meeting up with photographers for some product shoots and things like that.
Then I just kept working and making relationships with brands. Now I have contracts with some clothing and drink companies, and I’m also signed with an agency that does luxury event modeling. There’s a lot of high-end events down here in South Florida, so whenever they need to staff models for that, I do that as well.
My jobs in modeling and science are day-and-night different. In science, the people that I’m usually surrounded by are very down-to-earth, like a khaki pants kind of vibe. And the people I’m usually around for modeling gigs have more of an upscale vibe.
I think working in science is more fulfilling because it’s more respected. As a model, when you’re talking to somebody and they find out you’re a scientist it’s almost like the respect for you changes. When people think you just model, it almost feels like they think less of you, whereas once they know you have a respected career it’s like something flips in them and they think more highly of you.
On the other hand, in the science world, I think people respect the fact that I model, so it’s interesting that it goes one way but not the other.
Adventurers on TV are almost always men
Everybody always says, “I would never expect that from somebody who looks like you,” especially the outdoorsy stuff, like catching pythons or alligators. It’s kind of cool to not be what everybody expects, but I think it highlights a lack of representation in media.
Adventurers as you see on TV are almost always men, like Steve Irwin, Indiana Jones, or Bear Grylls. A lot of children display a stronger preference for activities that they learn are preferred by members of their own sex. So I think that disparity in representation not only skews people’s opinions of who does that kind of thing, but also results in young girls not pursuing outdoor wildlife careers.
But when I moved to Florida I found girls on Instagram who were really good free divers and they kind of pushed me to get into it. So even though mainstream media doesn’t do a whole lot for women adventurers, I think with social media girls like me can reach a targeted audience and that might have some impact.
After a video I posted went viral, I actually had a bunch of little girls from all around the world reach out to me, including girls from foreign countries who barely spoke English. They would send me voice messages on Instagram or their moms would let them send me a video and they would just ask me questions about how to get into science. I had one little girl tell me about how she actually likes snakes too, and it was just the cutest video ever.
On Instagram I do post a lot of my modeling pictures, but I make sure I prioritize posting wildlife and outdoors stuff to promote that adventurous image too, so I can show other girls that it’s cool to have hobbies and be okay with going outside.