Janet Petra Bonnema
1938 - 2008
Despite being shunned by fellow workers and labeled a trouble-maker, Janet Bonnema’s tenacity and sense of justice opened up vast new job opportunities for women in highway construction, mining, and other previously all-male professions in Colorado and the nation.
Janet Bonnema worked as an engineering technician for Colorado’s Straight Creek Tunnel (now renamed the Eisenhower Tunnel) in the 1970s, but supervisors barred her from working in the tunnel bore because she was female. Her successful fight in court helped break down the centuries-old discriminatory myth that women in tunnels and mines would bring bad luck.
“It’s silly! In the winter you can’t tell anyone’s sex anyway with all that clothing and gear.” — Janet Bonnema