Women in the Workshop? Crikey!

Apparently, the number of women working in trades is rising in Australia! To this we say HOORAY! But still, a report in 2016 states that Less than 10% of applicants for trade apprentices are women. Why is this? We thought we would take a closer look ….

Some say the reason for the low number of women taking up trades is lack of interest, but here at MNR we disagree.

Meg Solly, the co-founder of She Skills, an organisation that runs workshops to equip women with timber construction skills, believes that one reason so few women enter trades is that they’re simply never taught that it’s something they can or should be doing. “I think there are opportunities that women are missing out on, as trades can be particularly well-paying and interesting jobs,” she says.

“We’re targeting these skills in the hope that we can increase the amount of female role models that are doing these things. So, we’ll have mums showing kids how to do these things, and then in 10 or 15 years, we’ll hopefully start to see more women represented in non-traditional trades and areas.”

Employers who actively wish to employ female apprentices can find it difficult to find them. Through research, there are a number of reasons for this:

LACK OF EXPOSURE AT SCHOOL (lack of opportunity to take technical or trade subjects or even to take up a school-based apprenticeship)

PARENTAL ATTITUDES AND EXPECTATIONS (a negative attitude towards daughters working in a male-dominated industry)

LACK OF GOOD CAREERS ADVICE (lack of knowledge and information from career advisors)

THE IMAGE OF TRADES (“It’s a man’s world”)

LACK OF AWARENESS (low visibility of women in trades)

Reading up on this research, we thought we would take the opportunity to ask Keely, one of our experienced Set Builders at MNR Constructions what it’s like to work in a male-dominated industry and how we can encourage more women to work in trades.

Do you think there is enough training and opportunities for young women to become a tradie?

It’s getting better but there’s a long way to go. It took me 6 months to get an apprenticeship. A lot of potential employers were honest and open in saying they weren’t comfortable working with women. But I think those ideals are changing as we gradually see more women in trades. I think government incentives for employers who hire women would be a great start.

Have you come across any issues working in a male-dominated industry?

I get the occasional comment but fewer than I would have expected. They are usually from other tradies that are still acclimatising to seeing women working in a space they’ve not previously been seen in.

I got lucky with my colleagues here at MNR Constructions. They are not only supportive and encouraging, they have never seen me as anything less than entirely capable of my job.