Area Manager at EnviroCom Australia
WMRR Queensland Waste Educators Working Group Chair

What does International Women's Day (IWD) mean to you?

IWD for me is a chance to celebrate the amazing women around me that have paved the way for our successes thus far, the ones that support me daily (Hi Mum!) and the ones that continue to call out where there is still hard work to be done. 

What challenges (if any) did you face as a woman entering the industry? How did you address them?

Almost ten years ago, I had the fortune to enter the industry in a fairly female dominated part of the greater organisation, so I felt very comfortable within our team and was surrounded by women that had a lot of knowledge and kindness to give. However, as we did venture out into other parts of the industry there were challenges to face. Most of these challenges I feel came under a general umbrella of communication. I felt like I, or my female colleagues, weren’t engaged with as professionally as was due and I did not have the confidence or experience under my belt to speak up and reiterate needs or expectations. I felt a need to ‘bloke up’ onsite, adopt a posture and lingo that meant I was listened to. Our site work can be disruptive to the day-to-day workings of the teams that we are engaging with, and having to cause disruption as a people pleaser, is a scary prospect. So, when you get a few extra eye rolls, or your ignored on the radio, or site operations speaks directly to your male graduate on his first day onsite instead of you that they’ve seen onsite for years, it can feel a little sexist and a lot personal. I’m very happy to say though, that by and large this is not the case anymore. Not only have I changed, but the industry has changed too. It is easier to call out poor behaviour, you are more supported, and more often than not the poor behaviour happens less in the first place. That being said, when you remove some of that professionalism tied specifically to your day job, and put us together in a room at a conference or function, some of those habits can slip and you catch glimpses of the work still to be done, there’s still this old school chivalry that while is respectfully meant, has a certain demeaning factor to it. It’s hard to know where you stand if an interaction is genuine or forced gallantry and that can be corrosive to confidence.

How can we encourage future female leaders both generally and within WARR?

I’m a bit of a Brene Brown fan, so my advice would be in the realms of work on your ‘awkward, brave, & kind’ conversation skills. Open, honest transactions about unmet or met expectations create a culture where we can grow as individuals and help our teams to grow too. I have learnt some hard lessons about not sharing feedback in favour of not hurting feelings, and they stick with you because they don’t help anyone. Awkward, brave, kind conversations relate to everything; professional development, team work, personal life, people management, and career progression. However, honesty works both ways in these conversations, so be open to hearing the hard truths and being challenged as well as expressing your expectations.

What advice would you offer a young woman considering a career in WARR? 

Regardless of what interests you have, what lifestyle and choices you have made for yourself, there is something in Waste and Resource Recovery to suit you. Don’t write us off as smelly before you’ve got the chance to know us. Do a few things that scare you once in a while, the experience will stretch your brain more than you knew you could. Bolster each other, find the comradery in the extraordinary women around you, and learn from them – Anna, Christine, Lacey, I’m looking at you. 

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