Liz Alderson believes that women are naturally drawn towards "nurturing" careers. Being educated as a chemical engineer and working in safety systems may not seem like a traditionally caretaking role such as nursing and teaching, but in her opinion it is.
“Equality and equal opportunity are two different things. Men and women sometimes have different strengths, and we should not be afraid to use those strengths in the workplace – they are useful” she says, ““I think that women are sometimes attracted to nurturing roles on a subconscious level (and why not – we are good at it!) and I see my role in safety as just that, I nurture everyone!”
Within the nuclear field, there are professionals who specialize in providing safety and engineering solutions. Liz is one of them. She works for AMEC-NSS in Toronto, Ontario assisting companies assess their risks and control hazards.
“It can be a complex job,” she says. “We look at each aspect of the design individually and ask what could go wrong.”
When Liz immigrated to Canada from England three years ago, she joined NSS as a senior safety analyst.
“I was new to the company and to the country!” she says.
As the landscape around Liz shifted to include moose, mosquitoes, and the CN Tower, her employment in the nuclear field also changed. Before she began at NSS, she worked at British Nuclear Fuels (BNFL) for five years. Her job had involved immediate onsite safety issues, she says.
“A client would come to us and say ‘We have an issue – what’s the best way to deal with it?’ ” she says. “We would help them decide the safest way to deal with the problem.”
Her current job with NSS concentrates more on prevention.
“It’s a step-by-step process to look at safety for many companies,” she says. “Every day is different.” Liz enjoys this variety in her job.
“If you don’t want to be bored with a job then go into this field,” she says. “It’s interesting and always challenging.”
Her most recent project with an industry client is no exception. This company is moving, like many others towards risk based management for health and safety, she says. Her team at NSS is supporting them to adopt new safety techniques.
Communication is very important in the work place, she says, and something we all have to work on. “My focus is on learning to be succinct, perhaps one of those strengths that we can learn from our male colleagues, although there is of course a balance!”
Liz is honing in on her communication skills in another way for WiN. She will be going into schools and encouraging young women to enter the science and engineering fields in her chapter region of Golden Horseshoe and recently supported the AECL Summer Science camp for girls.
Liz was introduced to WiN by Sue Ion, the past Group Director of Technology for BNFL and a WiN award holder. As a past member of WISE (Women in Science and Engineering), and a graduate of the male dominated Imperial College, Liz immediately supported WiN.
Liz has a secret passion for “everything sci-fi.” Whether she is reading a Michael Chrichton book or chatting with people at a convention, Liz makes time in her busy schedule to nurture her “sci-fi” self.
Created on August 16, 2008.