If you reside in any Australian city, you’re bound to come across roadworks and tradies every second or third block.
This is what makes Australia special – the constant sound of machinery is the mating call of our native fauna.
You may have also noticed that while there’s still a buttload of dude tradies rocking hi-viz and Blundstones, there’s a much stronger presence of gal tradies in the mix now, too.
Given it’s no longer 2001 and old-school, sexist tropes are slowly but steadily being phased out (it could go a bit faster though, come on people lift your game), it’s hardly surprising that more and more females are getting involved in trade work.
With all that said, there are still some common misconceptions around the industry and given I have absolutely zero experience on the matter (except for Woodwork in Year 7 where I made an indisputably standout doorstop), PEDESTRIAN.TV chatted to Molly, a carpenter and former scaffolder, to ask her about life as a tradie.
How long have you been a tradie for?
I’ve been a tradie for eight years as of August. First, as a scaffolder, and up until recently starting a carpentry apprentice. Currently just over three months in.
What inspired you to switch from scaffolding to carpentry?
I have always wanted to be a builder. Over the years I had become so frustrated that I wasn’t learning any longer or being challenged so I bit the bullet and had a crack and I couldn’t be happier!
What are some wrong assumptions your mates have made about your job?
Most of my friends are pretty cluey about all the construction I’ve done over the years – loads of my mates are tradies. Nothing really springs to mind about wrong assumptions! Maybe that timber is really light – it’s actually really heavy haha.
What challenges do you face as a tradie in a male-dominated industry?
A lack of toilets or a lack of useable toilets is pretty challenging at times (for the boys too) haha.
Not so much now that I’m an apprentice but when I was a scaffolder and one of the more senior people in the company, I found it incredibly challenging when I was in charge of a job and other male supervisors wouldn’t take me seriously and referred to me as ‘love’ etc.
I could honestly go on for days about the challenges I’ve experienced – I’ve just changed my attitude and approach to every situation so I have become resilient. It’s not all bad!
Is there anything you think people generally don’t understand or realise about tradies?
I think that there is a lot of stigma and discussion around getting more women in the construction industry and being more accepting of women doing trades. I just want to shed some light on the fact that I think it’s so much harder to start your trade as a young boy/man based on the fact that you already have an expectation to be really tough. I just think that’s so unfair and needs to change because it leads to such bad mental health. It’s definitely not an easy road for us either, but at least as females, we have zero expectations!
What are your coworkers like?
Currently, it’s just my boss and one other and they are really rad. I’m 25 now though so there’s a lot of mutual respect. Previously some of my co-workers haven’t been so ideal. But for the most part, I’ve had great mates and life-long friends now from every job I’ve had in the industry.
Were you apprehensive about working in the industry?
Not at all! I didn’t really mean for it to happen, I just got offered a job so I didn’t have time to think about it. I’m a pretty competitive person so as soon as someone told me I couldn’t do it, I decided that I could.
What’s been the best part of your job so far?
Oh man, it’s so much fun working outdoors with, more often than not, a bunch of like-minded people that also enjoy a laugh and to rip in and get it done. There’s no greater satisfaction than knocking off at the end of the day psychically exhausted and looking back at what you have achieved – greatest feeling on earth.
If ya wanna get in on the bants, head to skills.gov.au and they’ll hook you up. Or at least, point you in the right direction.Image: Supplied