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Charlene Duffett

How did you decide on pursuing degree in geoscience? Did you know about geoscience before you entered university?

I was horrible at biology in high school but knew I wanted to work outside, so I applied for geology hoping it would be a good fit! My high school at the time did not have any earth sciences courses.

How did you land your first position? (Through networking, applying to an ad, etc)

I got an interview for a student position through a friend, which I didn’t end up getting, but they kept me in mind for any other positions and luckily something came up.

Can you briefly describe your career progression?

I did a few years with the government at the Geologic Survey of Canada, first as a summer student then as a master’s student. After I finished grad school I worked a short contract as a Geotech in the Yukon for a company called Big River Mineral Exploration. I’m still with Big River now, but as a Junior Geologist.

If you had to do it again, would you?

I definitely would. I spent two years in the joint Chemistry/Geology program at school, because I wasn’t quite certain geology was for me and chemistry had been my favorite high school course. But I ended up really not enjoying the chemistry, and leaning more towards geology, and haven’t looked back since dropping chemistry. Not too mention that all my best friends from university I met through geology.

If you could change anything in your career, what would it be?

My superficial change would be that I’d love to not have to deal with bugs in the summer! That being said, I am fortunate to have a good job, great managers and co-workers, and can’t think of anything big that I would change.

What are the three best things about your job/career? What are the three worst things?

Three best things:

- Very cool project! I work in exploration at the historical Pickle Crow gold mine

- As this is my first exploration gig, I appreciate that the senior geos and managers are all great teachers, they will explain any science/business decisions that get made, I’ve learned a lot about the technicalities and business practices in exploration

- While I primarily log core, I often get to mix it up and work outside sampling or visiting the drills

Three worst things:

- BUGS I am sick of mosquitoes and horse flies

- Lifting core boxes

- Working out of province right now sucks, as I live in Halifax but with covid restrictions it’s been difficult to get back home

What advice would you give young women starting a career in geoscience?

Stick with it! It sucks being the only woman in the room, but if you love what you’re doing it’s so worth it. Also it’s definitely important to have a good mentor to look up to.

Why/How is diversity important to you? Thoughts on what should be focussed on or how to improve diversity within geoscience?

Diversity should be important to everyone, not just the “diverse” groups. I’ve met some garbage people in the industry, and as a member of Nunatukavut (Labrador Southern Inuit), it did discourage me for a time. Fortunately, I’ve always had supportive management who would never tolerate discrimination.

I’m also proud to work for Big River, as we are fully owned by Na-Cho Nyäk Dun Development Corporation. I’d love to see more companies like this, that put a focus on employing indigenous people.

Why should others be talking about diversity and trying to improve things?

I’m very fortunate to have started my career at this time, I am thankful to all the women in geosciences in the industry before me who blazed the trail. That being said, obviously things can be improved. There are 2 women on our geo team of 7, and only 3 women in the whole camp. Diversity is always a strength! Diversity in companies has been shown to boost revenue, improve performance in employees and increase innovation. I think we should also be putting an emphasis on getting more women into management roles, one of the things I appreciated the most in my past few jobs was having a strong female leader as my boss.

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