Nelia Rousseau: How are women shaping agriculture?

In 2015, the United Nations declared the 11th of February as International Day of Women and Girls in Science. This presented the opportunity for the global community to acknowledge the valuable role women play in the development of the science industry. In this regard, Bayer is proud to be a company who creates equal opportunities for women within the science field to make a difference and to be part of the process of continuously shaping agriculture.

Nelia Rousseau, Head of Field Solutions for Bayer Crop Science: Africa Cluster knows all about it. She shared some of her insights regarding the pivotal role women in the science field play and the daily challenges they are faced with.

Although Nelia has been part of the Bayer team for about five years, her love for agriculture was already sparked at a very young age. 

“I grew up in a family of four kids and whenever my dad wanted downtime, he spent his time in the garden. This was also when I was able to enjoy quality time with my dad. All of us eventually ended up outside in the garden, playing in nature. My love for nature started there and never ended.”

Over the years, her passion for nature became intertwined with various other interests which made choosing a specific career path, challenging.

“Eventually, going through university, studying BSc Agriculture and adding on to that an honours degree in Brand Leadership, I ended up working in a science environment.”

Today Nelia’s role at Bayer requires her to utilise her skill set, gained from years’ experience, to marry scientific advancements with the requirements of growers in the field. Nelia describes this environment as a fantastic and very stimulating one to operate in, giving her the opportunity to make a global impact on a daily basis.

“Whether you are in marketing or sales, field or product development or breeding, you have the capacity within agriculture and science to make a difference in the world every single day,” she says.

A career within the agricultural science field, however, does not come without its challenges.   “The science industry is a man’s world,” says Nelia. “That could be a challenge as well as a great privilege. All of us functioning in this environment have a great responsibility to make it a better place daily.”

According to Nelia, science also offers the opportunity for the current generation to make a significant impact on the lives of those to come.

“The science field is an environment that really has the capacity to have great impact on all the generations to come. If we have the right people who are passionate about the environment, it will make a difference for the people who will be coming after us. I think it is up to all of us to determine the future of agriculture, but the impact that we can have can be great if we really show our passions and live our passions.”

Nelia’s message to other women looking towards a career in the agriscience industry is simple: persevere. “It is not necessarily an easy environment to go into, but it’s a great and wonderful environment where you can function feeling very privileged on a daily basis,” she says. “Keep on going, living and pursuing your dreams and making sure that you can get to a place where you can really make a difference.”

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