If we asked you to picture a tradie, what would you think of? The image in your head would probably be a ‘blokey bloke’, driving a ute, dressed in hi-vis, or smashing a pie on the construction site (ok, we may have added a few stereotypes here!). What we don’t often picture, is a woman doing any of these things. The idea of women in trade is still a concept that’s quite foreign but it is becoming increasingly popular, as the demand for women in trade continues to rise.
While some people may still have in their head that trades are only suited to men, this perception is quickly changing and we’re seeing a growing number of women on the trade site next to the men. If you’re a business owner looking to make your next hire, here are a few reasons why hiring women in trade could be the way to go.
Women are just as capable as men
Founder and CEO of Tradeswomen Australia, Fiona McDonald says, “with 65 key trade areas experiencing skill shortages and women only representing 2% of the Australian trade workforce, it’s clear there is a need for skilled, strong, capable tradeswomen.” One of the major concerns when it comes to hiring female tradies is the fact they aren’t as ‘capable’ as men. Well, we’re here to completely debunk this myth!
Trades are often a physically demanding job. From working in the elements all day to heavy lifting and the hands-on nature of the job, some assume women will struggle with these tasks. This is not always the case. Salt Australia links this myth back to exercise. “It is generally accepted in terms of sport that you need to train to be able to perform properly. Most people who run regularly will notice a change in their fitness levels in two weeks if they stop their daily exercise. Trade is very similar, each trade has particular requirements for physical fitness and most people need a period of training to gain that fitness.”
Women are also generally problem solvers. If there’s something they can’t physically lift on-site, they will find another way to do it.
There’s also a common misconception that women don’t want to physically get dirty or won’t like working in messy situations where they might get wet and muddy. That’s all it is though – a misconception! If a woman has applied for a job in the trade industry, you can be assured she has done her research on what the job involves and is happy to comply. When you hire from a limited pool, you're more likely to settle for hiring workers who aren't the best fits or who aren't as qualified as you'd like.
Limiting your job search for male-only workers limits your company and what it could evolve into. By choosing to hire a male simply for their gender, you may be missing out on an extremely talented addition to your team (which we’re sure another company will thank you for!)
Gender acceptance is evolving
When you hire a woman in trade, your company is taking a huge step forward, however, hiring women in a male-dominated industry can be confronting – especially if they are the first woman to join your team. Instead of being nervous and looking for potential problems, be open minded and embrace the opportunity to work with a new person, regardless of their gender. “Diversifying workforces improves productivity, retention, reduces workplace accidents and improves mental health and wellbeing,” Fiona from Tradeswomen Australia says.
Women can bring many skills to the work site as well as a positive change for the overall onsite vibe. Other positive traits like attention to detail and a passion for work also often come with female tradies who are trying to prove themselves in a male-dominated industry.
Pregnancy can be planned around
Sadly, another thought that often comes to mind when hiring women in trade is the possibility that they may get pregnant and require maternity leave and time off, leaving the team understaffed.
Unlike workplace injuries which require immediate replacement or adaption of duties, pregnancy is something that can be planned around. Some companies see pregnancy as a negative thing, but it shouldn’t be something to fear – there’s enough time for a plan to be put in place around the next steps and what a return to work will look like.
What skills do tradies need?
If you’ve thought about becoming a tradie, but have no experience, there are many skills you might already possess that can be carried over. “You don’t need to be the best at maths or science to excel in a trades workplace,” says Fiona. Her advice for skills that can be carried over include:
- Critical-thinking skills – You will need to assess the situation, identify any problems or tests, and apply the skills you learn to provide a solution.
- Adaptability - Whether you’re meeting with a customer or working on a repair, you will have to adapt to your surroundings. No two days will be the same.
- People skills - It’s essential to be able to communicate with your employer, employees, and customers.
- Professionalism - This includes dressing in the appropriate attire, being respectful and embodying your company’s values.
To all the young women who are considering a career in the trades industry, Fiona says “trades don’t have a gender! Every girl and woman deserve to have an opportunity to work in financially secure trade roles.”
Times are changing and what once was an image of a burly male on a construction site when we think of tradies is changing. Hiring women in the trade industry is slowly beginning to become a normal concept – and so it should be! Women have a strong skill set and when you hire someone for a role it should be because of their experience and how they fit with your business, not their gender.
At Syzmik, we support women in trade and have a range tailored just for our female tradies. To find your best fit, head to your closest stockist.