Supporting women in a non-traditional trade

28 Jul 2008

There are many myths around women working in non-traditional trade areas which are treated as fact and provide reasons for people to continue maintaining the status quo which prevents women entering these trades. These myths include beliefs that:

• All men currently engaged in trades are apprentice trained • It’s a waste of time and money to train women because they will stop and have babies • Women can’t do the work • Women do not have the physical strength to do the work required • Women don’t want the work • If women are trained they won’t cope in their trades and leave quickly so it’s a waste

Even when evidence is available to dispel these myths, people maintain their position. Without an engagement by all parties (employers, Registered Training Organisations, schools and society) in true Equal Employment Opportunities (EEO), where any person capable of the job is trained and employed to do the job, nothing will change. Women represent half of the general population yet represent about 0.2% of most non-traditional trade training.

The following stories are from women in trade. Almost all of the women come from trade families although not necessarily with family members in the same trade. Most of the women undertook apprenticeships as it is very difficult for them to gain training without one. According to their Head Teachers most of the women are high achievers in their training and an excellent influence on the trade classes.

Almost all of the women commented on their love of their trade and the need to be passionate about it to survive. When women can enter the trades, as they did during the Second World War, on an equal footing and not as a special case or as high achievers but just as people who want to engage in a trade, then hopefully we will have achieved true EEO status. Raising women’s would be an excellent start and not impossible.

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