Women forge new paths in steel manufacturing industry, says ASI

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Sheree Taylor, Queensland chapter president of the National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC) and BlueScope Qld specification manager. Image supplied.

Australian Steel Institute (ASI) CEO Mark Cain said 50 per cent of the institute’s staff are comprised of women who are increasingly turning to non-traditional pathways such as steel manufacturing

Cain emphasised that ASI is proudly supportive of inclusive work cultures where women’s careers thrive and their successes are rewarded, and steel maker BlueScope, an ASI founding member, agreed to this. 

“It’s an exciting, dynamic industry at the cutting edge of change for women,” according to Queensland chapter president of the National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC) and BlueScope Qld specification manager Sheree Taylor.

Historical perceptions of the sector, according to Taylor, are altering because of the company’s top-notch safety standards, the culture of mutual respect, and investments in responsible steel technology.

BlueScope said it now underscores gender-neutral qualities such as problem-solving, skill development, job security, and career advancement when promoting and profiling steel jobs.

Since 2016, BlueScope Australia said it has experienced a five-fold growth in the number of women operating at a level since the job program’s success. 

BlueScope is also a signatory to the HESTA 40:40 Vision initiative which seeks to achieve gender balance in executive leadership across all ASX200 companies by 2030.

According to Taylor, education at the school level is one of the keys to luring more women into steel and manufacturing.

“It is fantastic to see careers advice at schools now increasingly showcase the exciting opportunities for women in manufacturing – across both trade, operator and professional roles,” Taylor said.

However, the BlueScope official said there is still work to be done to encourage more women to pursue these professions so they may contribute to the field and benefit from stable jobs and meaningful careers. 

Meanwhile, site services contract controller for ASI founding member InfraBuild Wire Emma Mellows said the IWD ‘Embrace Equity’ theme powerfully resonated with her.

“Outside of work, I actively mentor young people, including young women, encouraging and supporting them to follow paths leading to technical roles describing the industry as an exciting, stimulating, versatile and satisfying career option,” Mellows said.

She claimed that despite having experience working in a number of heavy sectors (coal, steel, and power generation), she had never felt more welcomed and inspired than she did at InfraBuild.

ASI company secretary Christine Nicholls said IWD was a moment for businesses to go beyond equality in terms of equal pay to evaluate what makes women distinct in the workplace and how that may transfer to fairness in a practical sense. 

The Australian Steel Institute is the peak body representing the Australian steel industry.

ASI claims it provides marketing, education, advocacy, sustainability and technical leadership for 500 companies and 5,000 members.

Its founding members are BlueScope, InfraBuild, Liberty Primary Steel and Stramit Building Products.