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International Day of Women and Girls in Science: Anne Locke

Anne Locke, Principal Petrophysicist and Geologist for DUG

According to the United Nations, less than 30 per cent of researchers worldwide are women. UNESCO data tells us only around 30 per cent of all female students select STEM (Science Technology Engineering Mathematics) related fields in higher education.

Globally, female students’ enrolment is also particularly low in the fields of natural science, mathematics and statistics (5 per cent.)

DUG recognises the importance of representation and visibility. To mark International Day of Women and Girls in Science we talk to some of the brilliant women that we are fortunate enough to have working with us.

Meet Anne Locke

Petrophysicist Anne Locke has been with DUG since the beginning 15 years ago, when co-founders Matt Lamont and Troy Thompson asked her to head up petrophysics — the study of the relationship of physics to rocks.

Part of her work, Anne says, is to carry out petrophysics and rock physics studies for the company, as well as interpreting data collected while drilling exploration or development oil/ gas wells.

A large part of Anne’s job is educating and mentoring younger geoscientists in petrophysics, and it’s something that Anne is passionate about professionally and personally. When she started her career with an exploration and production company in Adelaide a little over 35 years ago, Anne says she was considered to be the company’s first female “professional.”

“Studying Geology, many people told me that I would never get a job in the industry because I was a girl,” Anne says. “Fortunately, I have a very stubborn streak, and if anyone tells me that I can’t do something I do my best to prove them wrong.”

Innovators Tea Party

The Innovators’ Tea Party links successful women working in STEM with high school students in engaging, speed-networking events.
Image credit: The Innovators’ Tea Party

Anne also volunteers with the Innovators Tea Party, a not-for-profit organisation that aims to inspire and empower more young women to pursue careers in STEM. “I think it is very important for all young women to know that they can do anything that they work towards,” Anne says.

Schools need to be a lot more proactive in encouraging girls into STEM, Anne suggests. She says she was “very disappointed” at the low number of girls at her daughter’s school doing higher-level maths in year 12. “By studying STEM subjects, their options are open to so many more exciting career opportunities than they may otherwise have. “

Women are often overlooked in history, Anne says, and she has been inspired recently by the book Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly. The book tells the story of the African-American women who were “human computers” at NASA. “They were not recognised as the amazing mathematicians that they were, but they were essential to the successful space program.”

Visibility is important. Women in science throughout history tend to be big innovators, Anne says. “They are often lateral thinkers who think of very different ways to solve a set of problems.

Guiding

Anne also volunteers her time as a Girl Guide Leader.  “It’s important to teach girls that they can do anything in life,” Anne says, and that the organisation gives girls many different opportunities to try things they normally wouldn’t have the chance to.

“I’m a big believer that girls need to experience leadership opportunities,” Anne says. “In the girl guides we see girls who may have been very shy and tending to stand back instead step forward and shine.”

Supportive

“When I started at DUG 15 years ago I had 2 children at school and had just moved to a new state,” Anne says. “DUG allowed me to work flexible hours, so I could be there for my children when I was needed. I could still get my work done at hours that suited me, not necessarily 9-5.

“DUG has been very supportive of women from the time the company was first set up. DUG has recognised that there are many women with amazing skills, who find it difficult to work 9-5, 5 days a week due to family commitments. 

Because of this support, DUG have a higher than normal ratio of women in very senior positions in the company.


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