Nikki Hart (left to right), Michelle Gutierrez-Smith, Kelly Jeffries, Bridget Young

More than 50 women gathered at the Hilton Auckland last night for the inaugural Women in Structural Steel event.

Hosted by industry body Steel Construction New Zealand (SCNZ), the event brought women together from different backgrounds, different industry roles and different stages in their careers to connect and learn from one another.

“SCNZ is committed to supporting diversity and inclusion,” says Darren O’Riley, general manager, SCNZ. “This initiative aims to encourage women into the industry by creating a welcoming and supportive environment, and showcasing the variety of opportunities within the sector. Ultimately, we want to grow the number of women engaged throughout the industry, year on year.”

Last year, SCNZ services coordinator Michelle Gutierrez-Smith attended a Women in Leadership summit and was inspired by all of the women and the diversity in the room – age, experience, background and industry.

“I looked at the structural steel industry with fresh eyes,” says Gutierrez-Smith. “I want to see more women in our industry; I want to see more women in leadership roles in our industry; I don’t want them to be hindered because they are women. It was a catalyst for SCNZ to establish Women in Structural Steel.”

Attendees at the event heard from three speakers: D&H Steel Construction’s Kelly Jeffries and Grayson Engineering’s Bridget Young shared their inspiring stories of thriving in the traditionally male-dominated structural steel industry; and nutritionist Nikki Hart offered some invaluable insights into how to maintain a healthy relationship with food and drink in our busy, modern world.

SCNZ plans to build on the success of the first event and host regular Women in Structural Steel sessions in future.