According to a recent study by Charles Sturt University, just 3 percent of the current trade workforce is female. Yet gone are the days where it was only men who wanted to get their hands dirty unblocking drains and stacking bricks.
The trade industry has completely changed and now jobs aren’t only reserved for men. Today, roles include more than simply mixing concrete, draining pipes and climbing scaffolding. From mechanics to welding, connecting circuits to project managing, the opportunities are endless. And now, more so than ever, women can get involved in vocations that don’t require a university degree.
Why don’t women do trades?
In 2016, just 0.4 percent of those studying carpentry were female, while only 2.8 percent of electricians were women. The statistics speak for themselves.
So why is there still a huge gender disparity in this field? The answer is simple: long days on the work site have traditionally been associated with calluses and blisters, and dirt under the fingers. All these by-products of manual labour are often seen as traditionally ‘masculine’ roles.
Further, women have also experienced a number of barriers to entry, largely because employers don’t always see them as having the necessary ‘grit’ to carry heavy objects around all day and ‘put their back into.’ Consequently, such stigma frequently discourages and deters from entering or enquiring into a trade profession.
What trades are women taking up?
Despite women accounting for only 1 in 20 of all tradesmen, there’s certainly a growing interest in women taking up a vocation in the construction industry.
According to a recent government report, the five most popular trade qualifications that women are undertaking are Carpentry, Electrotechnology (electrician), Plumbing, Light Vehicle Mechanical Technology and Telecommunications.
Meanwhile, the top five trades where there is the highest percentage of female apprentices include Horticulture, Painting & Decorating, Cabinet Making, Light Vehicle Mechanical Technology and Electrotechnology (electrician).
How can women get started in a trade?
Researching and chatting to an educational institution is the first step when it comes to choosing a career in a trade. They can help you narrow down your passion, talk through your options and explain the route you have to take to get there.
Obtaining a Higher School Certificate (HSC) may be one way to fast track your career path into a trade vocation, but it isn’t the only way. While most courses require a HSC, certain trades have specific entry requirements such as prior education and a portfolio demonstrating your work experience.
There are a number of female-focused services available that offer support to women who are starting an apprenticeship in a trade, especially for those who are looking to break into a male-dominated industry.
However, if you find yourself with relevant experience, organisations like Qualify Me! can help get your previous work and learnings recognised so you can fast track the process of starting a new trade.