There is a huge gender imbalance prevalent in the trades, but there are some giant leaps being taken to address this – as I saw when attending the 2018 Tradeswomen Conference last week.
I was fortunate to attend this conference, held on 8/9 March in Brisbane, with my Frasers Property Australia colleagues Kahley Georgiou (Senior HSE Advisor, Residential NSW) and Jackie Wesley (Construction Supervisor, Residential VIC).
Starting with the cocktail event on the first evening, we met amazing, successful women in trades who give up their own time to provide young women around Australia a chance to try their hands at trade-based activities. Their goal is not to push women into trade careers, but to make pursuing a non-traditional career a real option for consideration.
We listened to the brilliant Fi Shewring, who leads SALT (Supporting and Linking Tradeswomen), and facilitates the training of young women and a bevy of positive initiatives aiming to help Australia as a whole, and promote the increase of women in trade roles.
We learnt less than 2% of frontline trade roles are held by women, along with only 6% of jobs outside of clerical and administrative roles in the construction and building industry. The National Association of Women in Construction is working with governments to increase this number to 11% by 2021.
Over the two day program we heard talks on:
• remarkable women and their careers and progression to becoming award winners and industry leaders;
• research into the gender imbalance in construction and how it may be shifted, and
• methods for dealing with anxiety in the workplace.
The highlight for me was the keynote speaker, Jenine Beekhuyzen, who spoke of her not-for-profit organisation, Tech Girls are Superheroes. She teaches young women – as young as 3! – that they can succeed in a tech role and builds in them the skills which they need to move into many future roles. Every year, her organisation runs a competition which challenges teams of girls in primary and high school to develop and code an app to solve an issue in their community. Seeing the achievements of these girls, some 8 and 10 years old, highlighted that there is so much potential going untapped. Hopefully, due to the work of Tech Girls are Superheroes and other programmes, it won’t be for much longer.
It was wonderful to spend time with like-minded, driven and passionate women who are keen to share their love for their chosen career with the world. The experience helped to highlight the huge imbalance which is still prevalent in these ‘non-traditional’ roles, but also the steps women all over Australia are taking to change it.
Frasers Property Australia