Top 100 Women brings passionate women in the heavy industry together as an online community. It’s awesome that members are showcased to organisations who want to increase their female participation and may not know what talent is out there. There are so many ways we can move the dial to see more women enter our industry and stay for a lifetime by supporting them with tools like this platform. We can share knowledge, build each other up and have an impact by being the change we want to see in the world.
I am currently the Senior Mining Engineer at an ironsands mine in New Zealand and have spent the last 15 years of my career in a number of different mining operations. I started out as a Geologist because I have a passion for science and a constant desire to question why that rock is there and what processes went into getting it there. Working in coal mining was incredible, you get to stand there in awe of a coal seam that has such a rich and long history and you discover all sorts of things, like fossils, as evidence of that. Then add the complexities of extracting and transporting it to supply to steel makers, who alter its state to use for building bridges and structures which support our lives. I chose to upskill into a Geotechnical Engineer, as the challenges of assessing how the underground excavations will behave once mined and designing the correct support to keep it stable really appealed to my curiosity.
It was during this part of my career that I had a life-changing moment. I used to suffer from daily headaches as facilities provided underground are hard to get to or yuck, so I wouldn’t drink water on my whole 12-hour shift. It seems silly but is common because of the complications of going to the bathroom while kitted out in a lamp, heavy belt and overalls that are hard to move in. It got to a point where I couldn’t take it anymore and decided I needed a solution because I loved my job. I found the female urination devices that are becoming more mainstream and it changed my life! I could drink as much as I wanted and didn’t have to worry about the yuck facilities. This may seem small, but this small change stopped my headaches and helped my health. From then on I made sure these were available for the women working underground, as well as advocated for and implemented better underground facilities. By doing this, I have been able to help so many more females overcome that structural barrier.
That experience and others like incorrectly fitting PPE and navigating two pregnancies while working in an industrial environment was the start of my journey toward starting Shesfreetobe. I wanted to do more for the next generation of women coming into our traditionally male-dominated industry, so I made it my mission to help women feel comfortable, healthy and safe while working. The inadequacy of workplace design for women is an unintentional hangover from when it was exclusively men who worked in mining and construction. To change this, I support organisations through improving their workplace experience so women are welcomed, valued and cared for, and I love the feedback I get when something simple like offering female sized uniform really lifts the women up.
Connect with Kristy Christensen