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Meet 15 women smashing stereotypes in nuclear science

We asked the female staff at ANSTO about the importance of diversity in science.

Women represent half of the population, but you wouldn’t know it if you looked at your average science organisation. Lucky big companies like ANSTO are hiring increasing numbers of diverse STEM grads! The public research organisation has an award-winning plan in place to increase gender equality, with a goal of 50:50 overall representation by 2030, and minimum 40% females and 40% males in leadership roles this year.

Here, some of ANSTO’s female staff give us a major pathway pep talk.

What’s on your daily to-do list?

Madhura loves that the scope of her research is continually broadening. Image: Lauren Trompp

“I use a particle accelerator to assess samples for research areas such as air pollution, energy storage, zoology and many other disciplines impacting health, the environment and innovation.” – Madhura Manohar, Accelerator Scientist

“I use light one million times brighter than the Sun travelling at close to the speed of light to look at the structure of collagen and explore medical materials such as collagen scaffolds for tissue engineering and regeneration.” – Katie Sizeland, Research Program Manager, Human Health

“I have a team of highly specialised people who ensure the infrastructure, applications and computing needs of ANSTO are met and maintained for the needs of the organisation today as well as continually planning for the needs of the organisation into the future.”– Marianne Morton, Chief Information and Digital Officer

“My day to day job involves looking at samples which can be tubes of mud, wood samples, prawns or even echidna quills. I look at these things to work out what they are made of using a cool instrument called an Itrax core scanner.” – Patricia Gadd, Instrument Scientist

“I perform research, often in the form of experimental measurements, to understand the arrangement and motion of atoms that make up things. This understanding helps direct ways to improve the function of things, and make them perform better or do something new and useful. One of the things I study is lithium-ion batteries, with the aim of understanding how we can make them hold more charge and last longer.” – Vanessa Peterson, Senior Principal Research and Neutron Scattering Instrument Specialist  

What’s the coolest thing about your current role?

“Working with people who are not only bright but also driven and keen to make an impact through science and engineering. Being in a stimulating environment and helping our clients to find a solution to their problems.” – Anna Paradowska, Senior Research Scientist and Industry Engagement Officer

Shakila believes that research innovation is driven by diverse teams and perspectives. Image: Lauren Trompp

“The fulfilment I feel when I know the work that I do has the potential to change lives and change the way we treat some cancers across the globe.” – Shakila Fernando, Graduate (Chemist and Innovation Development)

“I am surrounded by amazing people, whether it be a scientist looking at potential life-saving drug developments, to operators of Australia’s only nuclear reactor or the CEO who is committed smashing STEM diversity stats through the roof.” – Kristen Patchett, Lead, Strategic integration

“I love being challenged with a good problem to solve. The various projects that I’m involved with in my job keep me stimulated and allow me to learn something new every day.” – Hayat Chamtie, Senior Project Engineer

What are your thoughts on the importance of diversity in science?

“If we’re going to solve many of the world’s big science challenges, we need to bring together different perspectives to foster innovation. Better gender balance in STEM will ultimately lead to better solutions.” – Suzanne Hollins, Head of Research

“Science is about trying to solve problems. If you just try and solve with one type of person, then you are probably not going to get the best solutions. We need all types of people and approaches.” – Helen Maynard-Casely, Senior Instrument Scientist

Any advice for young women keen to kickstart a STEM career?

“There is so much to discover and to learn in science. Don’t miss out! You will be rewarded with an exciting career.” – Atun Zawadzki, Radiochemist

 “Just do it! There are no magic answers for young women or men – you have to do the study and want to do it. You can make almost any career happen if you want it enough and are prepared to work enough.” – Penny Dobson, Deputy Chair and Non-Executive Director, ANSTO Board

“Pursue a career that you are interested in. There is absolutely no reason why women cannot have a fulfilling and successful career in STEM.” – Zhaoming Zhang, Principal Research Scientist

“The women I work with at ANSTO are smart, passionate and focused on making a contribution towards a more sustainable world. Look for a role model where you can add the greatest value, and then lean in and make every day count.” – Cassandra Casey, General Manager Communications and Community Engagement

This article is brought to you in partnership with ANSTO

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