While the trades and construction industry has been a primarily male-dominated one for a long time, things are slowly beginning to change. So here’s some motivation and inspiration for all the hard-working women in hi-vis out there.
More girls at school are learning that the trades and construction field is an option for them when they graduate, and more employers are hiring female tradespeople.
However, women still only make up a tiny percentage of tradies in Australia.
As a result, it can be tough for females who choose this job type to know how to get ahead. (Not to mention trying to finding a female toilet at work sites!)
If you’re interested in becoming a tradesperson this year, or if you’re currently working in the industry but struggling to achieve the results you want, there are steps you can take to make things easier.
Read on for some top tips for lady tradies keen to get ahead in 2019.
One of the biggest things that’ll help you succeed as a tradeswoman is to find a support system.
Having mentors, colleagues and friends who are in the same industry is vital, as these people can pick you up on the down days, provide you with invaluable advice, and really understand what you’re dealing with.
This is particularly important when you’re first starting out in a trades career, and if there aren’t many avenues to seek support at work.
Look into some of the organisations in Australia which were specifically founded to provide assistance to female workers in the trades and construction industries.
For example, SALT, which stands for Supporting And Linking Tradeswomen in Australia, operates workshops and conferences and otherwise provides support to members.
Another group to check out is The Lady Tradies Australia. This organisation offers a range of services, including promoting, connecting, supporting and encouraging women in trades.
If you struggle when it comes to marketing and sales processes, put your focus into networking more this year.
While other ways of generating interest and converting leads are still necessary, networking will help you when you’re starting out as, and over the long-term.
It is important to leverage the networks you already have, for instance.
Let everyone in your group of contacts, both online and in person, know that you’re available for jobs, and don’t be afraid to ask people for referrals.
Plus, put yourself out there to attend networking events so that you can expand your current circle. Join local business clubs and associations, too.
If you’re still not sure where to connect, contact groups like the National Association of Women in Construction which link female tradies and make it easier to expand professional networks.
If you’re feeling frustrated by the lack of other females in your industry, and the challenges which can come along with this, note that being a lady tradie can also have its advantages.
To build your business and profile as a tradesperson, take advantage of your specific strengths.
For example, it might be stereotypical to think women always have better communication skills and higher levels of empathy than men. However, if this is something you really do excel at, don’t be afraid to play on these strengths in your advertising and when dealing with enquiries.
Furthermore, female tradespeople often score more highly when it comes to being punctual and cleaning up after themselves.
Being made to wait and having to deal with mess after workers leave are two common pain points customers express about tradesmen traditionally. If you offer something different and can make the whole experience less stressful for clients, make it known.
Keep in mind, too, that many trades-related jobs are actually booked by women, who prefer to have other women in their homes for safety reasons.
As such, build your business by focusing on female clientele and stressing the advantages of hiring a woman.
To make it less likely that you suffer from prejudices and other challenges on the job because of your sex, make sure you choose the right business to work for, too.
If you don’t intend to be self-employed, seek out a supportive work environment where both your bosses and colleagues are happy to have you on board.
When researching potential employers, and during interviews, try to ascertain whether people will be willing to treat you equally and invest time into teaching and advising you if you’re new to the field.
You will need this kind of support to learn and move forward in your career.