It's hard to believe in 2023 women only account for three percent of people working in trades in Australia. Melbourne woman Hacia Atherton, founder of Empowered Women in Trades, is determined to change that number by empowering women to work in skilled trades. Here, she tells Lifestyle News why.
Q: Tell me about Empowered Women in Trades.
A: Empowered Women in Trades (EWIT) is an organisation dedicated to empowering women and promoting gender diversity in skilled trades. It was founded with the mission of breaking down barriers and creating equal opportunities for women in traditionally male-dominated industries.
The organisation focuses on supporting women who are interested in pursuing careers in trades such as electrical work, plumbing, welding and construction. EWIT provides a range of programs and resources designed to help women gain the skills, knowledge, and confidence they need to succeed in these industries.
We aim to increase female representation within skilled trades and contribute to a more diverse and inclusive workforce through their programs, support networks, and advocacy efforts.
By empowering women with the skills and support they need, EWIT is helping to reshape the future of the trades industry and create greater opportunities for women to succeed and thrive.
Q: Why do you think there is such a low female representation in trades in Australia?
A: I feel the low female representation comes from gender stereotyping perpetuating the notion that certain industries and occupations are only for men.
This bias can discourage women from considering these careers and employers from considering women who do apply for the roles.
There is also a lack of awareness, with many women not be aware of the opportunities available in trades, especially during their formative years.
Limited career guidance and outreach programs focused on trades result in fewer women considering these career pathways.
Cultural and social norms also play a role in shaping career choices with societal pressures and expectations steering women towards careers traditionally associated with caregiving or service industries while trades are seen as male-dominated and physically demanding.
The perception of an unwelcoming or even hostile work environment can discourage women from entering the trades.
The predominantly male culture, lack of female role models and concerns about harassment or discrimination deter women from pursuing careers in skilled trades.
As you can see, addressing the low female representation in trades requires a comprehensive approach that involves challenging gender stereotypes, promoting awareness and exposure to trades, providing supportive educational pathways and fostering inclusive workplace cultures.
By tackling these barriers we can create a more inclusive and diverse trades industry that benefits from the contributions and talents of women.
Q: What is your message to young women in high school thinking of what their career will be?
A: To remember that their future is theirs to shape. To believe in yourself, embrace your unique strengths and pursue the career that resonates with your aspirations.
Take time to be curious about the trades and explore the different opportunities that are out there, ask lots of questions so you can discover a career that aligns with your passions and interest.
Also, don't let societal stereotypes or gender biases limit your aspirations, remember your gender does not determine your potential!
Q: Why do you want to help women in skilled trades?
A: Supporting women into skilled trades is not only about promoting gender equality, it is about unlocking the full potential of individuals and creating a stronger, more prosperous and inclusive industry. It is an investment in a brighter future for women, their families and the industries they enter.
By breaking down barriers and providing equal opportunities, women can pursue traditionally male-dominated careers and contribute to a more balanced workforce.
Providing these opportunities also creates economic empowerment for women enabling them to achieve financial independence, support themselves and their families.
The increase in gender diversity within skilled trades will fuel innovation as women bring a unique perspective, experience and problem-solving approaches. This promotes creativity, new ideas and improves decision-making processes.
By supporting women into skilled trades, we are dismantling the notion that certain careers and opportunities are only suitable for men, encouraging a more inclusive and accepting society.
Find out more here.