By Mikayla van Loon and Callum Ludwig
A free women in trade tools skill day is coming to the Yarra Ranges to help boost women’s confidence in stepping outside their comfort zone to try a typically male dominated industry.
Box Hill Institute’s Lilydale Lakeside Campus is hosting the event on Thursday 10 February, with the program open to women of all ages and backgrounds.
Charitable organisation Empowered Women In Trades (EWIT) is bring the program to Lilydale and will include tool handling skills for plumbers, electricians, carpenters and automotive mechanics.
EWIT CEO Hacia Atherton completed work experience in the corporate side of her family’s business manufacturing sterilisation equipment and infection control products for the hospital, medical and scientific industries.
Coming from a long line of plumbers, Ms Atherton felt as a woman there were different expectations for her to go to university and take a path more commonly ‘suited’ to a woman.
Seeing first-hand the skill shortage in trade industries while working at her family’s business, she thought there was an opportunity to combat women’s financial hardship in Australia if women were encouraged to fill the gaps in employment.
As hands-on as the program is, it is also about developing the mental and human skills to build confidence, resilience and build fair and equal workplace relationships just as much as the practical skills.
“As soon as I put the welding helmet on, and the welding gloves and got a welder in my hand, I absolutely fell in love with that experience,” Ms Atherton said.
“It got me thinking why more women are not considering trades as a viable option. I interviewed a whole bunch of women and a lot of them said, ‘it’s just not an opportunity for us, we can’t access it’.”
Ms Atherton wants the program to give women the confidence and techniques to help them pursue careers in trades without feeling as though society is holding them back.
A key focus of the program is to enable women to use positive self talk and to give them permission to not be so hard on themselves.
“[We want women to] have the mental tools to be able to deal with those emotions, thoughts and feelings when actually picking up the physical tools in your hands as well,” Ms Atherton said.
“We’ve brought a lot of positive psychology stuff around identifying negative self doubt and talk, the things that happen when you step outside of your comfort zone naturally.”
The event will also include a presentation from a Tradie Trailblazer, a female tradesperson with lived experience who will try to provide guidance on the next step in an apprenticeship.
Whether the course inspires a career change or not, Ms Atherton said she hopes women learn about themselves and their capabilities to try something new.
She also said working in a trade does not mean women have to lose themselves and their femininity but rather can embrace it.
Following on from the one day workshop, EWIT plan on holding a two week program at a later date in conjunction with Box Hill Institute and prospective employers.
The program will run from 9am to 5pm and women can register through this link https://www.eventbrite.com.au/e/tool-skills-day-tickets-240710971997