In light of International Day of Women in Science, Sappi paid tribute to the women who play a role in building a thriving world for all by unlocking the power of trees, using the power of science. Every year on the 11th of February the United Nations recognizes women who hold office in the field of science.
This includes Dr Tracy Wessels who is heading up a formidable team of female scientists at Sappi in its research and development department. She is the newly-appointed general manager: group sustainability and research and development dissolving pulp, a position she has held since 1 January 2021, after heading up the centre of excellence for dissolving pulp at the Sappi Saiccor Mill for several years.
With only around 30% of all female students world-wide selecting STEM-related fields in higher education, with particularly low enrollment in natural science, mathematics and statistics (5%) and in engineering and manufacturing (8%), it is with pride that Sappi can report on its impressive female workforce who fill these roles, in what has often been classified as a male-dominated environment.
Sappi houses a number of female employees who have made their love for science a career choice. Dr Bev Sukhdeo is qualified in chemical engineering is the General Manager at the Sappi Saiccor Mill which currently produces 780,000 tonnes of dissolving pulp per annum. Not forgetting Dr Nicky Jones, programme leader tree biotechnology; Dr Jolanda Roux, programme leader pest and diseases; Dr Sanet Minnaar, biorefinery manager at Sappi, Pretoria Technology Centre; Dr Sharmane Naidoo, principal research officer at Shaw Research Centre – it is clear that there is no shortage of women in science at Sappi.
With progress in science, technology and innovation (STI) recognised as being essential in achieving the UN’s Sustainable Development goals by 2030, Sappi is focusing on overcoming gender bias and stereotypes about encouraging girls and women to pursue science-related careers.
The South African pulp and paper company promotes science and technology as suitable careers for young people, through supporting programmes like Protec (Programme for Technological Careers) for the last 25 years, with thousands of boys and girls benefiting from the additional focus on STEM subjects and shaping their careers in science and technology.