Senior Environmental Geologist at GDH
WMRR Resource Recovery and Market Development Working Group Vice Chair

What does International Women's Day (IWD) mean to you?

For me International Women’s Day is a wonderful opportunity to celebrate women in all their varied roles and capacities, both in industry and our working lives and all the other extensive duties women perform. It is a time to reflect on what has been achieved or not yet, be that the pay gap, equality, or discrimination and other gender issues, and to highlight that there is still a lot to be done. International Women’s Day allows us to celebrate all of us in our many facets and diversity. 

What challenges (if any) did you face as a woman entering the industry? How did you address them?

Having studied geology and commencing my work life in geotechnical engineering, whilst still at university, there were the smaller hurdles of having a tunnel construction site and only one not very hygienic toilet or a foreman informing me that it is not that long since women have been allowed in tunnelling works, as there was a superstition about women and tunnels bringing bad luck, despite Saint Barbara the patron saint of miners and others. In environmental consulting and waste management, I experienced a tendency to very early getting to work on data reviews and reports and my male colleagues at similar levels being the ones doing the majority of fieldwork, whilst, as a result of my geology background, I’d been very happy to get a lot of fieldwork exposure. So there was a degree of conscious or subconscious gender stereotyping. I can’t say that I did a lot about these challenges at the time they first came up, also because I was not always very aware of them. However, I have been trying to support and encourage my junior female colleagues so that they are open minded to all the different opportunities in our industry and pursue their interests, independent of gender.

How can we encourage future female leaders both generally and within WARR?

We need to start very early to encourage girls and young women to pursue their interests and not be guided by gender stereotypes, be that in the selection of study subjects (maths, physics, engineering), careers or to have the goal of a leadership role. No woman should ever feel that expressing a desire to reach for a management role will have any negative impact on how she is perceived at work or in society. We also need to provide the necessary support for women to combine leadership roles and personal ambitions, whatever these are. 

What advice would you offer a young woman considering a career in WARR? 

If our WARR industry and the world in general does not quickly focus on more sustainable future solutions, i.e., tackling climate change, we will all be in a lot of trouble. Working in the WARR industry provides you with a multitude of fascinating challenges and requires problem solving skills that any young woman can supply. 

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