Heather Parry

“I’m not going to lie; it’s a lot of hard work. People ask how I do it…you need to make sacrifices,” says civil engineer, mother, pony club instructor and horse breeder, Heather Parry.

‘Hard Hats and High Heels’, a networking event for BlueScope Steel, Illawarra Coal and the University of Wollongong, was held today at the Innovation Campus.

Guest speaker and receiver of the 2011 Brisbane Resources Award for Women, Heather Parry, discussed the difficulties of juggling a family with a mining-related career.

“This is wonder woman,” she says, pointing to said illustration. “She can fly a plane, has well behaved kids, flawless skin and a great career. I’m here to tell you she’s a myth,” she says to a round of laughter.

Parry talked about her experiences in the industry, career path and how managers should approach a woman with a newborn. “Baby steps, be supportive and offer flexible hours,” she advises. Parry suggested managers be creative in finding a solution that benefits everyone.

It’s estimated that women hold only 18% of jobs in the mining industry, with an audience member asking Parry how she dealt with the backlash working in a male-dominated industry.

“I get on with work and just ignore the haters,” she says. “When your getting on with your working and achieving…it’s like, ‘Well, what’re you doing?’” she says of the critics.

It’s not just the men in the industry who mouth-off; it’s the women too. “Young women are normally the main ones who give the mums a hard time” says Parry. “We’re our own worst enemies,” She encouraged women to support and mentor one another.

Other speakers included General Manager of BlueScope Steel, Oscar Gregory, who admitted to feeling a bit outnumbered. “’Get use to it’, the women always tell me,”