STEMM Profile: Rose Goodman | Senior Chemist | LabWest Minerals | Perth | WA

Rose Goodman [Image: RG]

“…expect the unexpected because you do not know what or why someone is going to do. Have contingency plans for the worst scenario but always expect the best scenario”

I have two daughters, Hannah (20) is in her final semester of her human bio, preclinical undergraduate BSc at Curtin university, and Jenna (17) in year 11 at SIDE (school of isolated and distance education), she also just got her drivers licence!

My work day is spent at a minerals laboratory; LabWest Minerals. My role is Senior Chemist.

LabWest Minerals is a great place to work – I feel this is so for several reasons.

The senior management team is a good mix of ages, gender and cultures. they are supportive of flexible work hours and put their biggest asset, their staff, first.

I studied all the sciences at high school, then went to university at age 26. I was unable to go straight from high school, as my parents could not support both my older brother and myself at university.

I worked full-time on afternoon shift so I could go to university part-time during the day.

Several years later I was offered a transfer interstate to Perth, as a laboratory instrument technician, so I deferred university and moved interstate by myself.

Within a few months I met my husband to be, had two kids, then went back to work when youngest child was age 18 months.

I enrolled at ECU here in Perth and finished my Bachelor of Science in Applied and Analytical Chemistry. Overall, it took 23 years to complete my studies, from the start (age 26) to the finish in 2011.

I have been fortunate enough to work in some very interesting aspects of the industry, including:

  • Environmental work out amongst the vineyards in the Swan Valley – involved testing the air for fallout from the neighbouring foundries.
  • Head Chemist at WesTrac Used Oil Lab. I had two very good managers to work with who did not micromanage and pushed my potential to the limits. I worked with equipment manufacturers, developing new methodology for state of the art particle analysers and viscometers, as well as learning to create the calibration model for infrared analysis of TAN/TBN (total acid and base number for oils – or how resistant they are to pH change).
  • I am thoroughly enjoying my new role as Senior Chemist at LabWest Minerals, working with cutting edge technology and methodology:
    • ICPMS (inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry) for 98 different analytes; mainly in mining samples but also:
      • hair analysis for nutrients and contaminants, and
      • ultrafine fraction analysis used in gold exploration.

SciTech is another employer that I have really enjoyed working with. I volunteered as a SciGuide for several years in between jobs. I love enabling people to succeed and host a social coffee group once a fortnight in Leederville for introverts.

What is the biggest challenge to women pursuing a career in STEMM sector?

Lack of support from other women. Yes this really can happen!

Pushing and promoting another woman either because she is very good at her job or has the potential to be, does not take away from you. It may be the lift she needs that makes the difference. If unsure, always be kind.

How can we accelerate women in STEMM into leadership roles?

Support companies that do it right. Companies that have invested in their team and make a conscious effort to have gender balance, not just on the floor but also in the offices and in senior management levels. Support them by utilising them over companies that do not show the same support, or advertising them, by word of mouth or on social media recommendations.

What is the role of men in advocating/supporting/championing women in STEMM?

Workplaces work better if there is a balance in all levels. Men and women have different ways of thinking; they can accomplish the same things, but may detect separate issues because of this difference. This is an asset.

Realising we are not demoting them, we are promoting us.

Do you have mentor(s) what is the most crucial aspect of your professional relationship?

Yes and I love the easy-going, relaxed but honest chats we have, even if a long while between meetings has elapsed, and knowing it’s completely confidential.

What is the most important advice you have ever been given?

My Dad was teaching me to drive; he told me to expect the unexpected because you do not know what or why someone is going to do. Have contingency plans for the worst scenario but always expect the best scenario.

How crucial are STEMM skills to the future success of the next generation?

Arts and Humanities are very important too.

STEMM requires learning certain (sometimes) complicated and disciplined rules and techniques. Without an understanding of these rules,

  • Spaceships will blow up (space shuttle, metric/imperial measurements mixed up, wrong size o-rings fitted).
  • Calibrations of scientific equipment will be carried out incorrectly (has to be done in certain sequence so machines work).
  • Samples contaminated before tests can be carried out, no gloves or not taking midstream etc.

Science teaches people why things have to be done in a specific order to achieve more correct results and how to do this.

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