10 May 2024

Riverina students break stereotypes in tradie career trial

| Oliver Jacques
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girl doing woodwork

Lisa Strachan was inspired by her ‘girly Dad’. Photo: Oliver Jacques.

A trio of Riverina Year 10 students say girls can be better tradies than boys, as they trial a career in male-dominated industries.

Coleambally’s Lisa Strachan and Griffith’s Gemma Lynch and Nancy Tietie are participating in the TAFE NSW Girls Can Too! program, which introduces female students to hands-on classes in carpentry, construction, engineering, automotive, plumbing, electro and other fields.

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Region caught up with them to find out about their challenges, goals and inspirations.

Is it hard for girls to take up metalwork and timber classes when all the other students are boys?

Nancy: I didn’t know what gender inequality was until my first day in timber. Having the constant criticism: ‘You’re the only girl’, What are you doing here?’, ‘You’re going to drop out’. You’ll always get criticism, but the way you react shows your character. Our teacher really encourages us.

Lisa: I’ve grown up with brothers and I’m often the only girl in a group. If I go into a workforce where I’m the only girl, I’ll push myself to be better them. You’ve just go to show them who the boss is.

Gemma: It’s upsetting if you’re the only girl and you don’t have others to back you up, but at the same time you’re putting your foot in the door and making the first step.

girl doing woodwork

Gemma Lynch is considering a career in bricklaying. Photo: Oliver Jacques.

Can girls do trades as well as boys?

Lisa: Some of the girls are so much more switched on than the boys. The girls can get things done much quicker. Often the boys will slack off and joke around and we’re more dedicated. My brother is older than me, but I can lift more and do stuff he can’t do.

Gemma: Girls actually mature faster than boys; some boys don’t mature until they’re in their late 20s.

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What role models have you had to encourage you to pursue non-traditional careers?

Nancy: My mum. A few years ago when my dad died, my mum taught me the meaning of resilience. She encouraged me not to do things I didn’t want to do and to chase my dreams.

Lisa: My dad. He’s such a girly dad, but my girly dad inspired me. He would always make me work hard and push myself.

Gemma: My dad has always pushed me to do better and he’s told me that he’s proud of me no matter what I choose to do.

girl at woodwork class

Nancy Tietie said she’d learned how to overcome inequality. Photo: Oliver Jacques.

What would be your dream job if you pursued a career in a trade?

Nancy: Construction.

Lisa: Heavy diesel or a butcher, like my dad.

Gemma: Either bricklaying or construction.

Further information on the Girls Can Too! Program, targeted at Year 10 and 11 female students, can be obtained by contacting TAFE NSW.

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