Women in STEM Protect Our Most Precious Resource

Loni LindMarch 21, 2023
by Loni Lind, Oroville District Local Manager

Throughout history and against the overwhelming weight of societal barriers, women have led innovation and scientific achievements that have solved some of humanity’s greatest challenges. During the month of March, as we celebrate Women’s History Month, we honor these achievements by highlighting both the successes and the work still needed to empower women to reach even greater heights.

As an operations leader and molecular biologist, I have seen the value of people with diverse experiences and points of view coming together to care for Earth’s most precious and vital resource—water. To increase innovation in this industry, it is important to attract more women to STEM educations and careers.

My own love for water began at an early age. I grew up on my great-grandparents’ ranch in northern California, where we had access to some of the best spring water. As a kid, I took it upon myself to manage the spring, not only for farming but also to make sure the water remained fresh and safe to drink. That childhood fascination eventually translated into an academic pursuit, where I earned a degree in biological sciences at California State University, Chico.

As I progressed in my career, that passion for water blended with my scientific outlook. Although water has chemical properties unlike anything else on our planet, it is often taken for granted. Providing safe, clean drinking water stretches beyond what many imagine, from plumbing and infrastructure to the molecular-level of a water’s chemical composition. It can be extraordinarily challenging to deliver clean water to the faucet whenever it’s needed, but our industry has done such an incredible job that many people never think about what it takes to get safe water to their homes.

Water operators, engineers, scientists, and leaders have to be flexible and adapt to keep the industry moving forward, ensuring high water quality and a reliable supply in the face of evolving, increasingly complex treatment requirements and stringent standards, as well as ever-changing climate patterns. Working with water requires creativity and problem-solving, and this is one aspect of the industry where many women excel.

We need more women in this field. I have seen many of my female colleagues thrive taking on complicated puzzles with many variables and working collaboratively to develop solutions. This space demands engineers, scientists, and out-of-the-box thinkers—an abundance of diverse perspectives to anticipate and plan for change before it comes. From water conservation to the long-term repercussions of climate-driven changes to our water supply, we need the diversity in perspectives that a wide range of people—including women—bring to the table.

This month—and every month—we encourage women to achieve their full potential and consider careers in the water sector. I am honored to share my story and proud to work side-by-side with brilliant operators and scientists who do great work each day to improve the quality of water we deliver to our customers. Bringing more women into the fold when it comes to managing and protecting our most precious resource brings us one step closer to creating a better future, not only for women but for the entire world.