Women in STEM: A Q&A with Ghadeer Allaho – Project Geologist
Ada Lovelace Day – celebrated on the 12th of October - is an international celebration of the achievements of women in science, technology, engineering, and maths (STEM). It aims to increase the profile of women in STEM and, in doing so, create new role models who will encourage more girls into STEM careers and support women already working in STEM.
Fittingly, we’ve interviewed a few of the exceptional women at SLR to understand more about their roles, their journey, and to share some inspiration for younger generations. Today, we’re introducing Ghadeer Allaho, who is a Project Geologist based in SLR’s Dublin, Ireland, office.
Tell me a bit about your job?
As a Project Geologist, I contribute to the geological aspects of SLR projects. This involves
logging samples delivered by the client, preparing them in the lab for examination, examining them, making my notes, and finally creating written reports to share my observations and recommendations.
What’s your favourite aspect of that?
My favorite part is working closely with the tangible side of geology, examining rocks, and observing minerals and rock features. There's something cool about knowing what I hold in my hand is millions of years old. It feels like reading the Earth's history.
That sounds really special. Were you always interested in geology? What influenced your decision to pursue your career?
I was first introduced to geology when I was in high school. It was a required module, and the funny thing is, I didn’t enjoy it at all. The class was held in a dark lab. I sat at the very back and hoped the teacher would forget I was there. Unfortunately, she was less enthusiastic about the subject than the students were.
However, things took a turn in university. I knew I wanted to be a scientist, so I joined the science faculty, not knowing which discipline I would choose. I took the introductory level in all subjects, and the 101 Geology module was not at all what I expected. It was fun, promising and it opened my eyes to a colourful, massive, and dynamic world.
My lecturer was the head of the Earth & Environment Department, and I believe he taught the introductory level on purpose, to inspire and attract students into choosing geology. His mission proved successful when most of his class majored in geology the next term!
That really shows the power of a positive and enthusiastic role model! Having not realised your passion for geology until university, do you think you knew much about it as a child?
As a child born in an oil country, specifically the State of Kuwait, I was educated about the invasion that happened in 1990, and I heard the word ‘oil’ a lot. I became curious about why my country was a target; why does oil matter so much? what makes Kuwait have an abundance of something that other countries don’t? what makes oil just occur underground?
I had also heard of earthquakes and volcanoes and was fascinated and scared in equal measures. My mother reassured me that earthquakes and volcanoes don’t happen in Kuwait. Again, I asked myself, why does this happen elsewhere and not here?
All these answers lay in geology.
Sounds like you always had a curiosity for geology that was just waiting to be unleashed. Now that you’re immersed in your role, what do you do to continue to grow in your area?
Associations do a great job of keeping me updated and engaged. They offer lectures, webinars, and even organise field trips. Journal memberships also keep me up to date on the latest publications and findings in the industry.
What has been your experience as a woman studying and working in STEM? Have you faced any challenges?
I’m loving it; I enjoy doing something that's not regarded as typically feminine work.
I have however experienced unpleasant challenges in the academic environment, such as a colleague making remarks or making moves on his female colleagues. I found it frustrating having to state in the middle of class work that such remarks are not welcomed.
As geology, and STEM in general, brings people from various backgrounds into studying closely together, it’s worth remembering these settings can quickly become uncomfortable for females if professionalism is overlooked.
Do you have any tips for aspiring Geologists? Or advice specifically for girls interested in a career in STEM based on your experiences?
The tip I would give to anybody is to know your strengths and weaknesses. Tap in your strengths and focus on harnessing them. If a task relies heavily on one of your weaknesses, seek advice from those who are good at it. Embrace teamwork and cooperation as it is one of the pillars in STEM.
For girls interested in STEM, I’d say, it’s a lot of fun and a lot of hard work. Believe in yourself and push outside of your comfort zone, that's where growth is. Learn to rest rather than quit when you're tired.
You are probably gifted with social intelligence, and you might be naturally inclined to provide moral support when needed, so tune into that and employ it in your study and career. Be assertive and don't shy away from having a voice, whether to share input or debate a point.
That’s a really strong message, thank you for sharing your advice. Lastly, were there any female role models that helped you decide on your career path?
Yes, I grew up around women in STEM. My mother was a Head Nurse in the medical department and my elder sister was an engineer when I picked my major. As a result, I saw no conflict between being a woman, a wife, a mother and working in STEM, in fact they made it look quite rewarding.
We're sharing a new interview each day this week. Read the rest of our Women in STEM series for Ada Lovelace Day:
And to learn more about Ada Lovelace Day, visit findingada.com