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Recognising International Day of Women and Girls in Science

International Day of Women and Girls in Science is observed annually on February 11 to promote gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

The day also aims to raise awareness and encourage women and girls to participate in these fields.

This year marks the 8th International Day of Women and Girls in Science with this year’s theme “Innovate. Demonstrate. Elevate. Advance. Sustain. (I.D.E.A.S.): Bringing Everyone Forward for Sustainable and Equitable Development.”

Science plays an important role in Opal’s day-to-day operations in Australia and New Zealand. We’re proud to recognise our team members’ contribution through STEM across our different sites.

Pictured are some of our Women in Science at Opal’s Maryvale Mill.

Pictured are some of our Women in Science at Opal Research and Technology.

This year we spoke to Megan and Nalini, who both have a background in science, a care for the environment and both feel the importance of the theme for this year’s International Day of Women and Girls in Science.

Megan Cartwright, Environment Superintendent, has been with Opal for 20 years.

Megan has a Bachelor of Science (Resource Management) from Monash University and started work at Australian Paper Maryvale as a graduate Environment Compliance Officer.

In her time at Opal, Megan’s roles have always had an environmental focus (compliance, improvement projects, statutory approvals, and community engagement). Megan has also been fortunate to be exposed to operational roles and innovative projects like the Maryvale Energy from Waste project.

What led Megan to a role in science was that she has always been drawn to the natural world and likes to understand how things work, so biology was always of interest to her. “I’m passionate about sustainability and finding practical solutions to environmental challenges – and these need to be based on sound science,” Megan says.

Megan uses science in her day-to-day role and said scientific principles underpin the work she does, whether it be collecting samples, data handling or analysis; sound data supports good decision-making and can help drive innovation.

This year’s International Women’s Day theme means a lot to Megan. “Sustainable and equitable development are very important to me. It’s clear we can’t maintain the status quo and innovation will be key in driving change,” she says.

“On a personal level as a parent seeing a path for sustainable and equitable development is important as I think about the opportunities my children and future generations will have,” Megan says.

Nalini, Environment Manager, joined Opal in October 2022.

Nalini has a Bachelor of Science degree and a Master of Environmental Sustainability. Nalini joined the Maryvale team as Environment Manager with experience in – Victoria, Australia-wide and international experience in environmental management and sustainability.

This year’s International Day of Women and Girls in Science theme is important to Nalini – both professionally and personally. “Whether you work in the environment space or not, whether you believe in global warming or not, you cannot deny the climate is changing, and the world around us is changing,” Nalini says.

As a company, Opal must change and adapt our business model to suit this challenging climate. We must innovate, demonstrate, and elevate to advance and sustain our business,” she says.

On a more personal level, Nalini has a strong sense of community. “Maybe it comes from being born into a farming family, sharing and inclusion,” she says.

“We can only move forward and achieve more sustainable and resilient lives in the face of the climate crisis if we come together and bring everyone together in a fair and generous manner. Together we are stronger,” Nalini says.

Nalini said this also reminds her of the words of Sir David Attenborough at COP 26, “If working apart we are a force powerful to destabilise our planet, surely working together we are powerful enough to save it”.

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