I’m a Woman. I have the breasts to prove it.
The best line for today came when I was teaching a session on Hazard identification, Risk Assessment and Risk Control; and our beloved Laptop decided to rebel against the tyranny of Microsoft Powerpoint.
In protest, he switched to the screensaver mode that has some of my favourite photos set on 6 second intervals.
This collection features equine, heavy vehicle and landscape photography (usually a combination of two) and serves as a great icebreaker
It brought up this one, and which is when the recipient of today’s Award for Excellence in the Category “Male Most Likely To Wear My Safety Boot Print On His Crotch” shouted out “So, you actually do have tits!”
I thanked him for his speculation, and silently noted that the other members of the class had developed a sudden and keen interest in tabletop lamination or ball-point pen mechanics.
During the smoke break (it’s interesting watching the twitch start!) one of the older gentlemen actually asked me the obvious question.
What’s it like being a Woman in the Mining Industry?
(If I had a dollar for everytime I’ve been asked that, Plan Woolly would be half the size of New South Wales, the ponies and the Alpacas would be living in the lap of luxury and I wouldn’t be *working* in the Mining Industry…)
To quote a movie that I’ve only seen once.. but is a bit out of the box. Tootsie.
Dustin Hoffman when, dressed up for some reason I am still not clear on, as a woman, says,
“I am very proud of being a Woman.”
Why should I think of myself as a Woman in a Man’s world? It’s not a “Man’s” world.
It’s a WORKER’S world.
People come here to work. We have Cambodians, New Zealanders. We have Greeks, we have Croatians, we have Aboriginals of at least 12 different families and we also have 2 Muslims who made a couple of people’s eyes pop out of their heads today when they were praying just after lunch.
And that was a good impromptu lesson “Comparative religion in the workplace”, let’s be grateful for my Anglican education on that one 🙂
But during a somewhat teeeeeedious contractors’ meeting today (the kind where I’ve filled up the margins of the minutes with doodles and Cesar, the project manager is breaking his neck trying to decipher my . + | notations to myself re my next pattern)
I thought about some advice to women working in an Orange (or similarly testosterone-rich) environment.
The fact I wrote this on the palm of my left hand is possibly contradictory to the first one, but here goes…
Be a Lady. There is a difference between being “a girl” and being “a lady”. I have never espoused being “one of the boys” because well… I’m not. I have my own strengths and my own weakness (just like men do) and I’ve found that they accept those more if you are consistent and acknowledge what YOU are. I will swear occasionally, but because I don’t feel the need to use F#$% in every sentence, when I do utter a notable expletive, it matters.
Being a Lady, not a girl, also means your workstation is exactly that – a WORK station. It’s not a show case for Gronks or troll dolls or any other cutesy items. Express your personality in a limited and classy way.
Being a lady means that you keep yourself nice. Save the makeup and the revolutionary nailpolish for out of hours. Wear what makes you feel (and look) attractive – I look anaemic if I don’t put on mascara every morning but don’t oversell.
In camp, we have guys who don’t shave for a couple of days.. they look pretty scruffy by Day 6 of the 13.
Uh-uh. Stay Nice.
Never take the minutes. NEVER.
Unless you are the secretary.
Today was an excellent example. I was the only female at the meeting. I am one of the higher paid people at the table. I am NOT going to take the minutes just because it’s seen as being a traditional female job. (no – I didn’t, in case you are wondering.)
Give them something to pick on – something small. The male ego is a fragile yet enormous thing. It’s an elephant mincing along a plank, suspended between two buildings. It’s an amazing thing to see when it’s on a roll, but Holy Hell, there’s going to be fall-out if it comes crashing down.
The point I’m getting at is they need to feel superior about *something* so they need to put women down about *something*. Give them an outlet.
I wear brightly coloured socks which the boys can tease me about. They then do not tease me about being short. Or female. They just laugh at my socks. And they feel comfortable about that.
Collectively, not individually. This is a big one. Men gossip more than women. A woman’s reputation is as vulnerable in a Mining Camp as it was in the Victorian era.
I have had a number of gentlemen express their concern, at night, usually late at night, that I may be “lonely”. I have received text messages with admiring remarks addressed to my legs, my rear, and all parts north (I’ve never really appreciated the attractiveness of my earlobes before but hey…) however I will make the point:
I love my boys. Collectively and not, repeat NOT, on an individual basis.
Thankyou and Goodnight.
Cue the Cambodian Mafia.
MENSTRUAL Cycle – it’s not a topic for discussion. No. It’s not. I was working with a girl previously who announced that she had her periods (never understand why it’s a plural but w.h.a.t.e.v.e.r. when it came to her!) which was why she was cranky/unable to use the photocopier/re-enacting a scene from Aliens. Take Nurofen, take Willowbark or Slippery Elm or WHATEVER but do not, DO NOT broadcast it to the world. It happens, there are worse things happening around the world. Get over it.
Don’t apologise for having an opinion. This is a big one. I am on a level footing with the men on this project – I am in the top third of wage earners, I have a degree. I have served in my country’s armed forces (so BITE ME, you movie watching WANNABEES!) and therefore when I express my opinion I will not apologise for a) having it, or b) uttering it.
Don’t be Superwoman. This is the Biggest of Big ones. You are not perfect, you do not have to be. You must have credibility which means if you don’t know, don’t try to bluff. Do your research and only act and speak from a position of strength. (That said, I got through a job interview just by using quotes from The West Wing. The Hubbert Peak indeed!). Do your share, don’t seek to impress by taking on countless other roles – it makes you look Empire building (and no, not the kind that oversized Gorillas climb). Move ahead by calmly making your way through each task, knowing your job and being good at it.
Be the flame, not the moth.
There – that’s my start for the “Safety Orange – A Woman’s Guide to working in the Mining Industry”.
I need to go crochet……
But heres’ a photo snapped on the way home first:
(by the way – and because you just NEVER know… if you are or know of a Crane driver, Trades Assistant, Scaffolder, Rigger, Boilermaker, Pipe Fitter or Welder looking for work – EMAIL ME PLEASE My company is looking for another 24 people to work in the Mining Industry in the Northern Territory. If you need work, we have gainful employment ready to go NOW.)