All access: Jemma Brookes, Maco

Jemma Brookes, product manager for the products, services and innovation division of Maco Door and Window Hardware UK

How can the glazing industry create truly inclusive work spaces? Continuing our series on inclusivity is Jemma Brookes, product manager for the products, services and innovation division of Maco Door and Window Hardware UK.

“I’ve always felt I have to work a little bit harder, and really know my products, to get ahead and be heard in male-dominated industries,” Jemma said. “I want to know what I’m talking about, so that if people question my ability as a female in a technical role, I can be taken seriously.

“Overall, I’m in a great place. My husband’s incredibly supportive, the Maco team is encouraging, and I get to travel with work. Having that balance and support, at home and at work, is really important for progression.

“At Maco we have weekly meetings, so someone is always available to listen, and there is less opportunity to get stuck dealing with something on your own. Throughout my career, people I’ve worked with have taken the time to listen to me in meetings, and provide constructive feedback. This is important for creating a welcoming and inclusive culture.

“When I first started working in male-dominated manufacturing environments I felt overlooked,” she added. “I was talked over and dismissed, and I had little confidence to speak up.

“At the same time, I was told I’m too loud and can come across as overwhelming and emotional. It was frustrating because no one took the time to listen or explain. I wasted so much time trying to be quiet and trying to fit in.

“Our industry is predominantly middle-aged, white and male. There are lots of internal networks of people working with who they’ve known from years back, which means there’s a lot of experience but it’s rarely being passed on. What will happen in 30 years’ time when those experienced people retire and leave the company?

“It’s a really tough nut to crack. We need to bring in a more diverse group of people.

“The industry needs to encourage change for the future. I would like to see more females in technical roles too, for example product management roles, because we are few and far between. I’ve seen that women work really well in technical roles; we are an asset to any team.”

This is a shortened version of an article from Glass and Glazing Products (GGP) Magazine. To read the full version, in the October 2023 edition of GGP, click here.

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