You’d be forgiven if you did a double take at a female electrician or plumber turning up on your doorstep to do a job for you. While we do live in a world that is switching its view, it’s a slow process, and hundreds of years of only male tradies will take some time to break down. Times are very much changing, and women are, according to this survey, making up 14.7% of tradies in Australia. There is a huge demand for people who are skilled in trade jobs, and women are starting to notice that manual labour jobs like plumbing and in construction are more and more open to women applying. Skilled jobs in a trade have the potential to be very highly paid with a greater flexibility, something that appeals to those who want to work for themselves while balancing a family.
Being able to delegate work around their children and families, women get a greater scope for ‘having it all’. Trading up and out of the corporate expectations placed upon them, women are able to work their trade around their families and really be able to find a balance that most cannot. There are still challenges to be faced, though. Choosing to pursue a career in a male-dominated industry is not an easy thing to do, because we live in a world where time is required to make people see the benefits instead of the difficulties. Almost half of all women in trade jobs have reported bullying and harassment due to their gender and the type of work that they are in. This is something that is unacceptable, but that still happens when people feel threatened – which is sad! The thing is, the only way to drive change in these industries is for more women to stand up and ask to be counted in the trade. The more women that are found on the construction sites, the better people can understand that it is NOT just a mans world. Breaking down the social constructs and scepticism is important and it’s the only way forward to promoting diversity in the trade industry.
There are so many opportunities that women take off the table, because they believe that they won’t be successful in a trade where men are at the helm. It’s important for you, as a woman, to remember that it’s not just the attitude of the men in the trade that you are aiming for; you have to adjust your own attitude, too. If you believe that you are going to be bullied and stick out like a sore thumb, then you’re going to talk yourself out of even trying, and this is going to be detrimental to your progress. There are so many opportunities in trade jobs across the board, and women are missing out due to fear. However, if you don’t aim high, you’re never going to make the changes. All it takes is one step into the industry, a strength to show that you are not going to be put off of working in a job you want and are interested in, for things to start moving more equally in the trade sector.
There are five particular trades that are notable for their lack of female staffing:
- Stonemason. The cutting and repairing of stone to be used in construction is commonly thought of as a job for a man, largely due to the lifting and the connotation that women aren’t strong enough to work with heavy materials. Thanks to women like Emily Draper, though, this is something that is becoming less of a viewpoint.
- Heating Engineer. A highly skilled trade, a heating engineer works on installing and servicing gas systems and other appliances. There are companies that work on bringing women into the industry and you should be confident in your own abilities to get registered as Gas Safe.
- Plasterer. Usually, construction work is long hours and a lot of manual labour, so it’s always been thought of as a place for men because of the endurance it takes to smooth over the walls and ceilings prior to decoration. It’s not just for men, though, and you can earn a decent salary by breaking into this role.
- Electricians. The repairing, servicing and fixing of broken appliances and wiring takes a mind that can solve a puzzle; so, gender shouldn’t really come into it. There are colleges and courses available that actively seek out women to study and work in the role, to encourage change.
- Plumbers. Similarly, plumbers fit bathrooms and sort out drainage issues. It’s seen as a high-stress role that women aren’t interested in, but there are more and more courses and roles that are welcoming female plumbers into the fold to become trained tradies.
Ultimately, you have to decide whether you are brave enough to leap into a role that is viewed as unconventional. The more we break the barriers of convention, the more we can have an active impact on making a change. Don’t be afraid to be a little different, especially when it comes to your future.