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Celebrating International Day of Women and Girls in Science 2020!

February 10, 2020

International Day of Women and Girls in Science was established on December 22, 2015  to promote full and equal access to and participation in science for women and girls. 

At J.D. Irving, Limited (JDI), we are proud to support our current female workforce, and the next generation of leaders, in their quest for careers in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) fields. 

Women in the Workforce

Meet Serena Silliker

Serena Silliker is a Process Engineer at our Lake Utopia Paper Mill in St. George, New Brunswick. 


When asked what prompted her to choose a science-related field, Serena said "I really enjoyed chemistry when I was in high school and decided to pursue it in university. The next step was chemical engineering because it combined the theoretical aspect of chemistry I had studied with real world application."

Serena joined the team at JDI in 2016 after completing a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry and a Masters of Science in Engineering, both from the University of New Brunswick Fredericton campus. 

"Science can open your world to new possibilities, and many rewarding career opportunities" adds Serena when asked what she would say to young girls to motivate them to pursue their passion in science.

Meet Katie Breneol

Katie Breneol is the Park Manager at the Irving Nature Park in Saint John, New Brunswick. Katie completed the International Hospitality and Tourism Management program at NBCC Saint Andrews. She then received her Bachelor of Applied Management from the University of New Brunswick in Saint John. After that, she received her Masters of Science in Conservation and Land Management from Bangor University in North Whales, United Kingdom.


Growing up, Katie was always fascinated by the natural world. "My absolute favourite high school class was Environmental Science. Learning about how we, as humans, influence the environment was fascinating to me." Katie says about her path to discovering her love for science. "I chose to study within the science field because it gave me a better understanding of all the magical things in the natural environment that I was passionate about," adds Katie.

"GO FOR IT!" is Katie's advice to young girls who want to purse careers in science. "Ask questions, talk to those who are already in the field, how did they get there?" Katie also adds "Believe in yourself and look to inspiring women in science who may inspire you further!"

Meet Tomi Ijaola

Tomi Ijaola is a Project Manager with JDI's Information Technology team, delivering projects in the Pulp and Paper Division. She completed her Bachelor of Computer Science from the University of Ilorin and has a completed her Project Management Professional Certification and Green Belt training in Six Sigma. 

Ijaola, Tomi.jpeg

When asked why she chose a STEM related field, Tomi said "being the last child of a family of 6, I knew I wanted to stand out. I chose technology because I was curious about computers, which made me feel "geeky". A few years into the field, I realized it was much more than I expected. The knowledge I have gained is empowering and makes me know that I am part of a global team providing solutions."

"Young girls like you are making an impact in the world through STEM and we need more to join," adds Tomi when asked what advice she would give to young girls wanting to pursue STEM-related careers.

Inspiring the Next Generation of Women in STEM!

Girls STEM Up


In Spring 2019 the first Girls STEM Up Conference was put on by nine students studying at the University of New Brunswick. The event was focused on a hope to drive conversation about the opportunities and barriers facing women of all ages from pursuing careers or further education in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math). JDI was a proud to be the title sponsor of not only this event but also a second conference that was held in winter 2019. The two conferences saw a total of over 250 participants from high schools and universities across Atlantic Canada.  To learn more about the most recent conference and Girls STEM Up, read our full story here

Educating the Next Generation


Irving Paper in Saint John recently began a STEM Program at Glen Falls Elementary School that ran for 6 weeks. The program was to educate, spark interest, and excite young girls about opportunities in STEM fields. Employees from Irving Paper volunteered their time over the school's lunch hour to work with the children and ignite their interest. 

“We all truly enjoyed spending time with these girls every week, and hope that we’ve shown at least one of them that a career in STEM doesn’t have to look the way that society may tell them it does,” said Laura Mijatovic, Process Engineer at Irving Paper. For the full details on this program, read more here.

In the next three years (2020-2022), we are looking for fill over 1,200 positions in STEM related fields. Are you interested in finding your next step with JDI? Visit to learn more!

About International Day of Women and Girls in Science

On February 11,  the United Nations, partners worldwide, women and girls will mark the International Day of Women and Girls in Science. Why does it matter? Recent studies suggest that 65 per cent of children entering primary school today will have jobs that do not yet exist. While more girls are attending school than before, girls are significantly under-represented in STEM subjects in many settings and they appear to lose interest in STEM subjects as they reach adolescence. Debunking the myths that girls do not like the sciences and other and gender stereotypes, along with investment in teacher training, gender-responsive technology and innovation can reverse these trends. 

Learn more here.