Forensic science work is about moving corpses, analyzing evidence and identification. Over the past years, both movies and series depict characteristics of forensic science work which makes it more interesting. As of the International Women’s Day on 8 March, Dr. Sherry C. Fox, a forensic specialist from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), answered these questions below about women and forensic work.
Q: Why is the forensic science field popular among women with a 70% increase in number of women students since 2010?
A: Back to when I was a student, there were more men than women in the forensic science field. Nowadays, the number of women in this field has risen. Even though the head of the forensic science work is a man, there are only two men out of over ten forensic specialists in the ICRC Asia Pacific office.
Q: Is forensic science a combination of science and law?
A: Staff in this field must be knowledgeable about laws especially Criminal Law because their work involve murder cases. ICRC staff who work at a humanitarian organization like ICRC need to understand International Humanitarian Law (IHL), including organizing the body with respect and sending them back to their families.
Q: What is the regional ICRC’s forensic science work like?
A: Our work is about disaster management because it has high risk in this region which is different from others. We usually cooperate with related organizations to prepare for response beforehand. Work here is different from elsewhere.
Q: Many regard rescue work as men’s work?
A: It depends on each area. I used to work in a country where moving dead bodies is women’s duty, though such work is not a common type of work for women in Thailand. There are quite a few women working in the forensic science field in Thailand such as police officers. A famous Thai forensic specialist is also a woman.
Q: What is the difference between working in real life and what shown in series/movies?
A: Movies/series portray this work to be more surreal because in real life we cannot figure out some cases in only an hour. The real forensic science work needs more time to examine, and sometimes evidence cannot reveal the remains’ identity. It could be stated that the entertainment industry elevates people’s interest towards the forensic science field.
Q: How important forensic work to solving cases?
A: I used to work in Arizona, the United States, there was a case in which a body was decomposed so we could not find the cause of death. After that, we found bullet holes through a rib bone near the chest, so it was supposed to be a murder case. As of ICRC’s duty, we are normally working about missing ones, and we have to identify bodies, respect and send them back to their families, so relatives can organize final rites in their respective ways. Identification is significant for family’s feelings and laws because if remains are not found, we cannot assume that they passed away.
Q: Any advice for interested women?
A: I would recommend that interested persons should participate in meetings or associate with persons in this field. Some people may think forensic science work is fascinating, but there are obstacles that distract you while working as field staff such as smell or some kinds of insects. Thus, people should research this field thoughtfully.