Shifting representation for women in manufacturing
We sat down with Brooke Williams, Quality Technician at Weir Minerals, to talk about the importance of female representation in manufacturing, a space typically dominated by men.
Brooke addresses the challenges she faced by being the first female in her team, and how she helped build a work culture that values women excelling in manufacturing.
Can you tell us a bit about your role at Weir Minerals?
I have worked at Weir Minerals as a Quality Technician in the machine shop for over four years now, and a few years ago I was also promoted into a dual position working in pump assembly.
My role covers several responsibilities, and every day is different. Some days I investigate quality issues and ensure critical jobs are completed on time. I am also responsible for implementing quality processes and carrying out internal audits and certifications for parts.
Did you always want to work in manufacturing?
Not necessarily – I came from a construction background, which I really enjoyed. When this role was advertised, I was interested because it was more hands on and in a similar industry.
When I started, my team quickly learned that I was eager to get my hands dirty and learn, so they trained me to be more hands-on on the shop floor. All my knowledge and experience has been learned on the job.
What is the best thing about your role and working for Weir Minerals?
I am passionate about continual team improvement. I feel a sense of satisfaction when I see my team succeed. I always want to be doing a better job than the day before and loving what I do really drives me.
One of the main highlights from working at Weir Minerals are the people. Our facility at Artarmon, Sydney has some of the best people I have ever met. It makes coming to work every day more exciting. The support I have received has allowed me to push myself outside of my comfort zone, learn about what I can achieve in my career, be recognised for my potential and be rewarded with great opportunities.
Why is female representation in manufacturing roles important?
Women in manufacturing roles bring a completely different perspective – women think in a different way to men, and this can add a lot of value.
My positive experience at Weir Minerals has opened avenues for more female representation throughout the whole manufacturing team. We are seeing more and more female faces every year, something that in the past would have caused some hesitation, especially when females had never occupied these types of roles.
In my case, that hesitation quickly disappeared when they saw that I wanted to be involved. The teams are thrilled when new women come onsite, as they too also want to see more female representation. They see the added value and different perspectives women bring to the job.
What challenges have you found as a woman working in a typically male-dominated role?
We have worked hard to start introducing more female only facilities across the site, until recently this was definitely a gap in this space, and we have an opportunity to do more in 2023. As we see more females join our teams we need to keep evolving.
I have also worked closely with my manager and other mentors around the site, who have helped me find my voice. Often assumptions were made that I was in a support staff role and the male-dominated teams were often surprised to learn I worked in Manufacturing on the shop floor. I worked hard to have a confident voice that others listen to and respect. At the beginning this was a challenge.
You were recently nominated for a Women in Industry Award. Can you tell us a bit about that?
I was nominated for the award by a manager who has mentored me a lot over my four years at Weir Minerals. He felt that I deserved recognition for the challenges that I overcame in my role. He believes that Weir wouldn’t be the same without my presence.
The nomination has allowed me to share my story with our industry and highlight what I am capable of doing. It will open more avenues to better my career, and hopefully inspire other women to enter manufacturing roles. It can look very daunting to join a male-dominated environment; however, the only way to make positive change is to get in and give it a go. Don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty!
Weir Minerals is a Signature Partner for AusIMM's International Women's Day Event Series. For more inspiring stories like Brooke's, make sure to follow AusIMM on social media and follow the hashtag #CelebratingWomeninMining