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Celebrating Women in Trades Photography Project

The Celebrating Women in Trades Photography Project is a collaboration between Women’s Health Grampians and Apprenticeship Support Australia. The project aims to celebrate the achievements of women in trades, to provide strong role models of women working in male-dominated industries, and to support and inspire other women  to begin their own trades career.

Twelve women from around the Central Highlands region who work in a non-traditional trade were selected to feature in this project. We are honoured to present these remarkable images, captured by Mitch Nivalis of MDP Photography & Video, along with the stories from the women themselves.

Printable posters featuring the photos and stories can be downloaded from our publications page.

We have two 6x2m banners featuring the photos and stories which are available for public display; if your organisation would like to host a banner please reach out to angela@whg.org.au.

Women who are considering a career in trades can contact Nicole Brudenall, Coordinator of Women in Non-traditional Trade at Apprenticeship Support Australia for a free career consultation.

A woman is using machinery in a workshop
Tara, Apprentice Cabinetmaker
(Certificate III in Cabinetmaking)

“I was always drawn to the construction industry and thought I’d study building design or management at uni. But taking woodworking class at school set me on the path for getting on the tools instead. I love learning new skills – no two days are the same. I believe that currently, because there are those extra hurdles to get into trades for young women, you find that women tend to be truly passionate about the work they produce and they can be amazing assets to any site or company.”

A woman is working underneath a raised car
Maddison, Apprentice Mechanic 
(Certificate III in Light Vehicle Mechanical)

“I grew up on a farm with this job all around me since I was little. I love that in my job no two days are ever the same, and I learn something new every day. Sometimes I’ve had to learn to ignore other people’s negative opinions, and I’d tell other women in trades to keep your head held high, don’t quit, and stand up for yourself! We need more women in trades so that we can follow our dreams without judgement.”

A woman in a welding helmet and glasses is using a blowtorch
Sarah, Apprentice Welder
(Certificate III in Engineering/Fabrication)

“I stumbled into welding. Although I never thought ‘when I grow up I want to be a welder’, I quickly discovered it was my passion. Now I couldn’t imagine being in any other career. My biggest challenge has been lack of confidence; coming into a predominantly male workforce I often faced a lot of self-doubt. However, with the help and support of my colleagues I now feel confident and empowered at work. These days your gender doesn’t have to determine what you can achieve, so follow your passions in life!”

A woman is plastering around a light fixture on a ceiling
Storm, Apprentice Plasterer
(Certificate III in Wall and Ceiling Lining)

“I liked the idea of doing hands-on work and knew other people who worked in trades, so I did VCAL through school. I love being a plasterer – every day is different. It’s a good feeling when you see another woman working on site. One day when I’m qualified I’d like to own my own business. I’ve learned to never doubt yourself – even if others seem bigger or stronger – give it your best shot and don’t underestimate yourself!”

A woman in a hard hat is on a construction site using a radio
Sam, Site Manager

“The construction industry found me – after doing some work experience I studied Building and Construction and have never looked back. Being a woman in construction has sometimes been challenging, it seemed I needed to work twice as hard to show I could do the work (or do it better!) But I’d encourage other women to give construction a red hot go, you’ll love it. You’ll learn how to build buildings that people will use for generations to come. It’s making a little bit of history for yourself.”

A woman is using a screwdriver to fix a machine
Guinny, Apprentice Electrician
(Certificate III in Electrotechnology)

“I never really wanted to go to uni. Doing an apprenticeship appealed to me as I liked the idea of carrying out a qualification over four years while earning and learning. I was very nervous starting my pre-apprenticeship, but the course gave me everything I needed to feel prepared going into the workforce. Having more women in trades will allow younger generations to get inspired and have role models.”

Alyssa, Apprentice Plumber
(Certificate III in Plumbing)

“I found the hands-on aspect of plumbing to be extremely appealing. I love interacting with others, and learn something new every day at my job. Being one of the few women in my trade can make it hard to gain respect quickly, but I think that women bring good communication, punctuality and professionalism to a workplace. I’d encourage women to jump in and give it a go, even if you’re unsure!”

A woman is working underneath a large truck, using a tool
Mattiese, Apprentice Diesel Mechanic
(Certificate III in Heavy Commercial Vehicle Mechanical Technology)

“I grew up helping my dad fixing up projects at home on weekends and holidays. We would work on anything from 4WDs, to motorbikes, and jetskis. A highlight of my job has been rebuilding Isuzu truck manual transmissions – I can now remove, rebuild and refit one in two days! I think we need to break down the traditional walls for women in the workplace, and encourage them to enter whatever trade they think they would like to work in.”

A woman is painting the outside of a house, holding a tin of paint
Lily, Apprentice Painter
(Certificate III in Painting and Decorating)

“I knew I wanted to do a trade, but wasn’t sure what. But after doing a work placement through school I decided to take on a painting and decorating apprenticeship. My work hours are great, and I get a real sense of satisfaction from seeing the end result of my work and love working in a team environment. It’s great to see more women working in trades, and I have lots of women in my class at trade school!”

A woman is working on an electrical switchboard
Chrissy, Business Owner
(A Grade Electrician)

I did a women’s trade course when I first left school, and I liked the maths side of electrical so I gained a full-time apprenticeship. I love interacting with people through my job and building great relationships with my clients. Women bring good communication skills and a different perspective to the job. There’s definitely still some sexism in the industry, but if you believe in yourself and don’t let anyone hold you back you can do anything!”

A woman is using a circular saw on a construction site
Brittney, Apprentice Carpenter
(Certificate III in Carpentry)

“I’d always liked working with my hands, so I took the job to see if I’d like it and I fell in love with carpentry. I love learning new skills and doing things I never thought I’d be able to do. I also love proving people wrong who never thought I could do this! I would encourage women thinking of a trades career to block out any negative comments and give it a go – we need more strong role models for the younger generations so they know they can have any job they want!”

Abbey, Apprentice Tiler
(Certificate III in Wall and Floor Tiling)

“I wanted to work in the building industry so I started off doing work experience and VCAL, then took on a school-based apprenticeship. I love that every job I do is completely different, and I’m always learning. Sometimes I have felt out of my comfort zone, but my team helps me out. I would tell other women to not be put off entering a male-dominated industry – we need more women in trades to lead the way!”

With support from the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet’s Office for Women.

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