Our Shesfreetobe Journey
It's 2008, I’m 23 years old, I’ve just lost the best job I have ever had as a Geologist searching for gold and I am standing here certain I have made a terrible mistake choosing this job after seeing first hand what I'm up against.
Sweat drips down my back as I am being shown around this mind-blowing new environment. We just drove 30mins down an ants nest network of roadways to get to the working face 420m underground and I feel stunned at the large scale of this place.
I'm standing talking to the Area Supervisor as he runs me through what is going on in the area and what the hell I'm looking at.
Being the only woman is normal to me, but I've gone from being one female bun in a bakers dozen of man buns, to a female speck among a sea of men - a sea of 1000 men to be exact...
I had been warned that it would be tough, but I had not realised when I accepted the position that I would be the ONLY woman and I felt vulnerable, isolated and I doubted my ability to do this job.
I'm wearing a hard hat that's on a gansta lean, men's overalls that are tight in all the wrong places, a belt that is gouging dents in each hip, a heavy head lamp battery and self rescuer on opposite sides of my belt and boots that are many sizes too big. It feels ridiculous!
The area supervisor studies me for a few moments, his face changes and looks amused. I also see some pity in his eyes as he leans in signalling for me to lean closer too.
I have been getting increasingly uncomfortable since I had that morning cup of tea 2 hours ago and I'm battling to ignore it, shifting my weight side to side.
He saw this in the way I was holding myself and quietly levels with me about the toilet situation. 'Toilet' means a toilet seat atop a trailer with no walls AT ALL which, even the operators only use during their 12 hour shift in emergencies. He advises me that my best bet is to find a quiet place and squat. Thats seems reasonable until I discover that doing this in overalls is a balancing act with all that gear dangling off me.
In that moment I appreciate his kindness. Over time I discover that this particular supervisor is one of my favourites, he takes me under his wing and takes the time to share his knowledge and answer my million questions.
But in this moment I am terrified and feel stupid for taking this job now knowing the barriers I would face. WHAT AM I GONNA DO!?
I end up trying once to follow his advice, it was a disaster and I'll just leave you with the statement that I'm lucky it's so wet underground in general...
My solution? I don't drink tea or water or any fluid before or during my 12 hour shift. I get debilitating headaches which sometimes turn into migraines, I'm dehydrated in the hot environment and I have a fuzzy brain. Not ideal!
Fast forward 3 months later after some intensive research and I have bought my first Shewee, which is an FUD (female urination device). I've never looked back, I can even write half of my name of the wall with it! And I made sure each site I worked at had them available to the ladies at site.
Shesfreetobe was birthed from that need to make sure all the problems I solved for myself to operate at remote sites in my female body were shared with heavy industry businesses, it is my soul's calling!
I never stop finding ways to include women in a challenging workplace that was built for men.
This is no newsflash, but women traditionally sit down to urinate, have a menstrual cycle, can carry children if they choose, are mothers and go through menopause. Products exist to make life easier, as the female body is unique and should not feel like a burden so let's bundle them together to provide women with the right tools from the beginning, so she be healthy and feel considered and welcomed.
Every Business wants that!
Shesfreetobe provides our Toolkit, which are the fastest first step to meet a females bodies needs with products selected for maximum effectiveness, our A Day in HER Life Assessments blaze a path to inclusive workplace re-design and we also educate business owners, workers, supervisors and the existing female workforce.
We want to help you create a heavy industry workplace where women thrive by achieving better health, safety and well being outcomes!
Get in touch today!