Tags: Hot Topics, blog, Women in the Workplace

As part of our International Women's Day celebrations, we caught up with Nicola Kay, woman in science and process development team leader at Croda, based in Widnes.

What are you choosing to challenge in 2021?

I'm choosing to challenge the opinion that women can't have both a family and a rewarding career. I'm currently on maternity leave and I recently had my second child. I have a three-year-old and a three-month-old at the moment. I have a very rewarding career, which I will be returning to towards the end of the year, but I also have a family , which I believe I am managing successfully.

What needs to change to achieve gender equality in my industry?

I work in the chemical industry, and it's a really interesting one because I'd say in a lot of respects we're almost there in terms of gender equality, but I think it depends on the business that you work in. I think better maternity benefits, such as maternity pay and shared parental leave, would really help gender equality, not just in the science industry but generally. I think equality does need to go both ways with this to make sure that women are not disadvantaged by going on maternity leave and having a family.

What tips or pieces of advice would you give to women looking to further develop their career in the chemical industry?

I think a big one is to be yourself, and don't feel like if you have a little bit of fire and confidence, that you need to temper it down or to be less assertive to get what you get what you want. I'd say to women; don't let anyone tell you to put that fire out, because that fire is part of who you are. It's part of what's going to get you to where you want to be.

Another one I'd say is don't give up! If you ever are treated differently because you're a woman, take it and use it as fuel to drive you forward rather than let it hold you back.

What am I most proud of personally?

I think for me what I'm most proud of is how I'm keeping all of these plates spinning. I've got a family of two young sons, I've got my career which I am progressing in and I lead a team. I’m a keen runner and I have been heavily involved in my local park run and helped to run that as one of the room directors. The fact that I'm not just a mum, I'm not just a scientist, I'm not just a runner or anything else - I'm lots of different things, and I think that's something that I am quite proud of.

What am I most proud of professionally ?

My role as Process Development Team Leader means I manage a team of development scientists and our sighting witness. I've got a really talented team of amazing scientists that see me as a good leader and respect my opinions. I think that's something that I am most proud of.

Who inspires or has inspired me in my career

It's definitely other women. I love seeing women do well and getting promoted into an important technical position, especially being a scientist myself. At the Widnes site of Croda, our Site Director is a woman which is absolutely amazing and we've got female plant managers, which traditionally is a very male dominated role. Seeing women in my industry lead people is inspiring and I hope to inspire that same feeling in women for years to come.

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