Senior Partnerships Adviser
Data shows that female representation in male-dominated industries has not improved over the last twenty years. In fact, female representation in the Construction Industry has actually decreased.
One organisations working to help buck this trend is Supporting and Linking Tradeswomen (SALT), a support network for tradeswomen, apprentices and women seeking to enter a trade.
The network started in 2009 and has since grown its membership and presence across the country; holding over 100 workshops teaching women to use tools and talking to over 60 schools about pursuing careers in a trade.
Fi Shewring, SALT President, has written a myth-busting guide to encourage women to consider a career in a trade and help employers get the facts about employing tradeswomen.
“The biggest problem is that myths remain unchallenged, so this guide is an attempt to answer those myths which reoccur and which we, as tradeswomen, battle against all the time.”
Here’s a snapshot of Fi’s myth busting guide.
Myth: Women can’t or won’t be able to do the job that a man does.
Safe Work Australia Guidelines in the National Code of Practice for Manual Handling state that employers need to design work so that it is ‘safe for an average person of the workforce'. There are no longer set weights that must be lifted.
Myth: Work sites don’t have the correct facilities for women.
Employers are required to provide all employees, female or male, with access to basic human needs such as clean drinking water, toilets and a way of washing hands, a place to eat that is hygienic and shelter in case of inclement weather.
Myth: Women won’t be accepted or accept doing the work required.
Women do get accepted and are happy to work in the trades. It is important to have a company with zero tolerance for harassment towards all its employees; this benefits everyone.
Myth: No point employing a woman she will get pregnant
Yes, women do get pregnant but they are not the only ones responsible for having babies and for caring for them after they are born. Employers can provide pathways for women to move into other areas as they need to during pregnancy and facilitate their return to the workforce.
Myth: Women don’t apply, so they don’t want to do this work
Currently many organisations in the trade industry target advertising towards men. As a results many women don’t realise they can do this work but awareness is changing.
Download SALT's full guide: Employing women in the trades – myths, facts and remedies
Take a look at - women’s work│men’s work: great careers are for everyone - a WGEA series of profiles of women and men working in non-traditional fields, aimed at inspiring the next generation to think again about the type of work they might love.