We have some brilliant minds working in the science and research arm of DELWP. 
One such talent is Jill Fagan, who works within the climate change policy branch as the Manager, Adaptation. 
This is what International Women’s Day means to her, and why it’s important to have female representation in this industry. 

“I have mentored quite a few young women, and I focus on building their confidence, helping them articulate their own skills and outlining the paths they could take.”

Why is it important to have female representation in the science and research industry? 
Because we are smart, fun and full of great ideas! 
I prefer to lead and work in teams which include not only a reasonable gender balance, but also diversity in ages, perspectives and backgrounds.  
At first it may seem confronting to have others challenge your views.  But without diversity we can struggle to find the innovative solutions we need to address complex, systemic problems like adapting to climate change. 

Tell us about your job? 
I manage a passionate team that develops the strategy and policy for climate change adaptation across the Victorian Government, facilitates its implementation, and provides advice on adaptation and climate science.  
I also love working with my peers to develop the strategic directions in adapting to climate change, greenhouse gas emissions reduction, and transition to a low carbon, resilient future. 

What does International Women's Day mean to you? 
It's a reminder that we should feel proud of ourselves and what we contribute to our respective societies. 
We all have an opportunity to demonstrate respect to women by examining our gender biases and calling out discriminatory behaviour.  
It's also a time to reflect on how we can address some of the terrible conditions facing many women and girls across the world.  
I am particularly concerned about women’s lack of access to education. So I’ve been sponsoring a Tibetan refugee living in India, so that she can continue her education through high school and university.  

What is your advice to young women considering a career like yours? 
I have mentored quite a few young women, and I focus on building their confidence, helping them articulate their own skills and outlining the paths they could take. I tell them I never imagined I'd end up in the great role I have now.  
But I also caution patience. The first few years in the workforce are really about learning how the place operates, learning how you like to work, and how you can add value. It would be very unusual to land your dream job immediately. 
Opportunities will come if you are prepared to step outside your comfort zone, believe in yourself, and have a go at things even if you’re not 100% confident at first.  

What is your background? 

At school I loved Chemistry, so at uni I studied chemical engineering and went on to do a PhD in water engineering. 
Since then I have worked mainly in the water industry on modelling, strategy, policy, research and innovation.  
In a former role I lead the climate change program at Melbourne Water, which is extremely vulnerable to drought, fire and flood. 
It provided great background for my climate change roles in DELWP.  

Fun facts about yourself?
I love outdoor sports, particularly rock climbing, and have climbed in many places including on the majestic El Capitan in Yosemite Valley.  
One Halloween at university my climbing friends and I carved a pile of jack-o-lanterns. Then late at night, we climbed up buildings all over campus and placed them on spires, roof apexes and high above entrances. It was amusing walking between lectures the next few weeks, observing fellow students spotting the pumpkins and wondering how they got there! Now I’m teaching my two kids to climb.  

What have been the highlights of your career? 

1. Speaking to groups about climate change. In contrast perhaps to previous decades, people are now really concerned about climate change. It’s exciting to tell them how they can progress that concern to action.  

2. Mentoring and managing younger staff. I find their fresh ideas invigorating, they see environmental custodianship as a priority, and they are keen to jump in and contribute to our program.      

3. Landing a few big strategies, such as the National Urban Water Research Strategy, the Melbourne Water Modelling Strategy, and the pilot Water Sector Climate Change Adaptation Action Plan. 

4. Being welcomed into the chemical engineering research labs while I was still an undergraduate. I worked as a research assistant and took high-speed photos of non-Newtonian fluids forming droplets. I analysed the results so we could better characterise their flow properties.

Jill Fagan

Page last updated: 27/07/20