IDW 2022: Breaking the Bias in practical industries

Women make up less than 30% of Health & Safety professionals and often operate in sectors that are ma
le dominated.

On International Women’s Day 2022, we celebrate all women’s achievements in the workplace and focus on the importance of equality and inclusion as part of this year’s #BreakTheBias theme.

At SML we are proud to have highly qualified and experienced female Health and Safety consultants, as well as an excellent team of women running our back office functions.

Our Senior Health & Safety Consultant Heather Collins had over 28 years’ experience in industrial manufacturing and Health and Safety senior management, prior to moving into consultancy. She is a Chartered Member of IOSH and has specialist qualifications in Fire Safety management.

Heather is highly valued as part of our team and as an expert Safety resource in our clients’ Senior Management Teams. Most of her career has involved being in situations and workplaces where she is one of very few women. Here she talks more about her experiences in Health & Safety and the challenges she has faced.

“When I started working in Health and Safety, over 30 years ago, the remnants of management and union attitudes from the 1970s were still hanging around.  I recall attending a manufacturing conference in Birmingham as a new graduate and was one of only three women in the room, out of 100 people in attendance.

Engineers that I worked with at the time were convinced that because I am a woman, I didn’t know about machines and therefore machinery safety.  Although things are much improved today, attitudes still linger and sometimes you still feel you need to prove yourself.

For me, this year’s “Breaking the Bias” theme is very apt for the sectors in which I work. The old-fashioned stereotypes about women working in practical workplaces is much less of an issue today, than it was 30 years ago, but there is still assumptions that encourage men into engineering, Safety and manufacturing and women away from it.

I am pleased to say that I meet more female H&S managers and advisors now than ten years ago, but on the engineering/facilities side there is still a bias towards men.

It’s important that those of us working in practical, technical professions do all we can to raise the profile of women in these sectors, to encourage future generations of women to consider these career options and but to help #breakthebias.”

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