Three inspirational local women shared insights into their chosen careers at a Tauranga Women's Business Network lunchtime panel discussion meeting yesterday.

Held as part of the Tauranga Suffrage 125 commemorations, Redefining Workplace Roles highlighted that a person's gender made no difference when it came to career choice.

Heather Jones, Trudy Green and Grace Lowe spoke to a group of about 40 women at the Tauranga Club about working in traditionally male-dominated industries.

Green owns and operates local earthmoving firm MT Green Contracting together with her brother Colin.

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After leaving school, she worked for 18 years at Tauranga Hospital's radiology department as a technician.

"I absolutely love my job as I'm my own boss. Yes, it's been tough over the years working in a male-dominated environment, but I've definitely earned the respect I get and deserve," Green said.

"Unfortunately, some men still think the boss should be a man, but you absolutely need to stand up for yourself as women can do anything you put your mind to.

"When you want to do something bad enough you should go hard out and just do it. Don't ever let anybody else try to hold you back."

Jones, the owner-operator of Aegis Private Security firm, who has built a highly successful security company over the past 18 years, agreed.

Jones was married at 19 and raised three children. She became the first female security guard at a local firm and worked there for six years before going it alone.

She too had come up against prejudices, not just from men, but that had made her more determined to show people she could do the job just as well, if not better.

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"Yes, it can be challenging and some people looked shocked when I tell them I own and run the firm, but I agree women can do anything, and you just need to give it a go."

The third speaker was Grace Lowe, 19, from Greerton, who is the only women mechanical engineering apprentice at Page Macrae in Mount Maunganui.

Rowe said her experiences of gender bias were not as extreme as Jones and Green.

Lowe said she "accidentally fell" into doing mechanical engineering after a welding course she signed up for was too full, and has never regretted her career choice.

As the only girl in the Page Macrae workshop, Lowe wears bright pink work boots to make a statement and said she loved being a trailblazer for other women.

"All I ever wanted was to be treated exactly the same as the other apprentices and I haven't found it hasn't affected me being the only woman in the workshop.

"Everyone has been really accepting and has treated me like I belong."