WOMEN make up more than half of ChemCentre’s workforce, setting the pace for representation of women in Stem-related (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) fields.
ChemCentre Board Chair Denise Goldsworthy said the ChemCentre employed its first female scientist in the late 1920s.
“The ChemCentre had worked hard to reduce barriers to the advancement of women in the workplace by fostering an inclusive workforce culture,” she said.
“This includes supporting women with flexible workplace practices so they can better balance work and life responsibilities and as an organisation planning so that these policies can be implemented.
“For example, planning around maternity leave, as well as planning for the return of women from maternity leave, so women don’t feel pressured to be in one place or another or be fearful about their job, this enables staff to make the right choices for them and their families.”
The percentage of women employed by the ChemCentre is well above the national figure of 28 per cent for the Stem-qualified Australian workforce, and higher than the 47 per cent employed nationally in the natural and physical sciences area.
Its 10 emergency response teams, each made up of three specialist scientists, are often all-women teams because half of the centre’s emergency response service of 24 are women.
The service operates around the clock to provide specialist scientific expertise in dealing with hazardous materials, especially chemical threats.
Science Minister Dave Kelly and Women’s Interests Minister Simone McGurk met the scientists ahead of International Day of Women and Girls in Science.
Ms McGurk said the number of women working in non-traditional areas of employment was woefully low, with 12 per cent of engineers in WA being female.
“Just recently there was recognition of women’s ability in science with the appointment of Professor Michelle Simmons as Australian of the Year,” she said.
“We need to see more of this but government can’t do it alone.
“The responsibility has to be shared across all sectors – and we have a long way to go – but organisations like ChemCentre are showing great leadership on the issue.”