TasWater strides ahead for women and girls in science

TasWater strides ahead for women and girls in science

TasWater is celebrating the International Day of Women and Girls in Science this Sunday, 11 February, proudly acknowledging the achievements of the remarkable TasWater women who contribute with passion and dedication to the world of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Maths (STEM).

TasWater Chief Executive Officer George Theo said science is at the core of delivering exceptional water and sewerage services for Tasmanians.

“We are fortunate to have a talented team of experts working in this space. and this week is an opportunity to celebrate the achievements of the talented women across our business and to encourage more aspiring female STEM professionals to join us,” he said.

“It’s well recognised that diversity underpins innovation. By fostering an inclusive environment we continue to attract diverse and talented people, which will be key to delivering the best possible outcomes for our customers, the community, and Tasmania’s precious natural environment.

“The International Day of Women and Girls in Science reminds us of the talent and expertise we already have and to focus our efforts to attract talented women to our organisation,” George said.

Looking at all STEM related careers at TasWater approximately 20% of the workforce is female. TasWater intends to keep growing its female workforce across all areas of the business, particularly in highly valued STEM specialities.

A prominent example of the team is TasWater Head of Water and Environment Services Fran Smith, a proud advocate for women in science, who hails from a small farming community in regional South Australia. Her interest in the interconnectedness of things, coupled with a passion for continuous improvement, led her to choose STEM as a professional path.

“Armed with a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry, I started in STEM nearly 22 years ago, initially as a laboratory technician at Selfs Point in Hobart,” Fran said.

“Science is very welcoming, there are many facets, and so many ways to find your niche and make a difference.

"I like change and continuous improvement – how can we do this better or understand it more. I started in research but eventually gravitated towards more practical applications of science.

“I find motivation in making a tangible difference, using science, data, and knowledge to drive positive outcomes for customers and the environment.”

Her pride extends to the people she works with, fostering their development and seeing new ideas and thinking brought to the water industry.

Among her proudest achievements is witnessing milestones in improved best practice across the business, building strong relationships with regulators, sampling teams, and the TasWater laboratory.

“For example, in Greater Hobart alone, to be able to treat and deliver 160 million litres of water every day, with every litre meeting the Australian Drinking Water Guidelines, is not a small achievement. And last year alone, across the state, we undertook 273,000 tests to ensure Tasmanians could turn on the tap with confidence knowing their water is absolutely safe to drink. That’s a test every 2 minutes, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year,” Fran said.

The TasWater Laboratory has been a key part of the business since TasWater’s establishment over a decade ago and provides services for TasWater and external clients. The Laboratory team consists of two laboratory coordinators, three senior laboratory technicians and five laboratory technicians.

Among them are Laboratory Technicians Kylie Evans and Kushi Jayawardhana, who are just as enthusiastic as Fran.

Kushi said, “Science exposes you to new knowledge every day. It is not just your job, but something for your community.”

Kylie added, “I think it is a great field for women to get into. There is never a day when you see the same thing.”

TasWater Laboratory Coordinator Alison Magill agreed, saying, “Science is great, it’s a challenge, and it’s fun.

“Science is for everyone.”

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