Ann-Marie Rohlfs

Water Quality Scientist, WaterNSW

Dr Ann-Marie Rohlfs   Water Quality Scientist, WaterNSW Ann-Marie has seen women succeed, even in male-dominated industries. Her mother challenged both her family’s expectations and social norms by moving to Australia from Hong Kong in the 1980s to take a job in IT. She had to work twice as hard to be taken seriously as an Asian woman in the industry.

‘It’s shown me that if you follow your passion you’ll land on your feet, and not to be afraid of taking a less conventional path in life,’ said Ann-Marie.

Her mother’s experience has also given Ann-Marie a unique perspective on the importance of diversity.

‘Ecology teaches us that a diverse ecosystem is more stable and resilient. I think the same applies to human society and organisations.’

To Ann-Marie, the International Women’s day theme of ‘Choose to Challenge’ means, ‘to stay conscious and switched on to gender issues’.

‘Inequality often shows up in really subtle ways, and women tend to stay silent where men would speak up. So really taking on this theme means using my own voice and speaking up a bit more – whether that's calling out inequality or contributing to the conversation.’

Anne-Marie has been most inspired by female leaders that bring a human element to their leadership and embrace vulnerability as a strength. Passionate about working in the water industry, she believes in collaboration, reaching out to peers across the industry to connect and share experiences.

‘It’s one of the unique perspectives being a woman in water brings – having empathy and being able to listen to the perspectives of others can help us all succeed.’