Lady Tradies Australia: empowering women in trades

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Lady Tradies Australia is a new support group for the growing number of Aussie women choosing to take on non-traditional roles. We chat to founder Wendy Pinch about her motivations, hopes and dreams...

Q: Hi Wendy - let's start by hearing a bit about your background.

A: Fresh out of school I went into retail and quite quickly worked my way up to a management position. From there I moved into banking and spent eight years as a manager in various branches around Newcastle. From there I moved into marketing and then had another stint back in finance as a collections manager. It was a temping assignment that took me to construction with RCR Energy - I worked in recruitment for a short time with them before being offered the position of PA to the general manager.  It was here I saw just how many women worked in trades and non-traditional roles and gained further knowledge of some of the larger industries. I had a few friends either in or looking for FIFO work and they told me a lot about the women and various roles they perform on sites.

Q: Why did you decide to set up the organisation?

A: Lots of reasons! I was constantly frustrated trying to get reliable tradies to work on my own home.  I then started to ask the questions: "Were there any women doing these roles and if so, who and where were they?" Surely a woman would do this better, understand me more, turn up on time, actually treat me better as a customer AND clean up when they left!? 

So I did some research on tradespeople, and how people felt about them in general.  The more I asked, the more it came up time and time again, that people (women especially) were occasionally being ripped off or not even really listened to/understood when dealing with many tradesmen. More and more women these days are the ones making the decisions about repairs and renovations being done at home. They're also often the ones waiting at home for the tradies to turn up and then dealing with them on the needs, prices, work schedules etc. 

So I did more research! And discovered there are actually more female tradies than many people realise. It was so clear to me that there needs to be that link between lady tradies and potential customers. There are many facets to Lady Tradies and many more to come. (Watch this space!)

Q: What's the response been like?

A: Seriously amazing! Not long after I launched the Facebook page I went down to the World Skills Event in Sydney and was blown away by the positive response, the support and the encouragement to keep it going. From the Master Builders, the painters' associations, bricklayers etc - all the trades and the industry associated bodies were so encouraging. I saw so many young girls competing in these non-traditional trades and knew instantly that I had to continue with this. They're competing against the odds, they're gutsy, courageous and I loved that they were being true to themselves and giving it a go, instead of 'settling' into more traditional female roles and possibly not being happy. 

My Facebook page (www.facebook.com/LadyTradies) attracted 600 people in the first six months - a mixture of working lady tradies and supporters of the concept from Australia and around the world. I'm really grateful to everyone, as that is just one of my missions - to spread the word that more lady tradies exist than people realise.

Q: So what's next?

A: For now we are a Facebook community, but will be launching the website soon, with many exciting features. The major part of the site will be a search facility to find and use these lady tradies. There will also be some support areas with restricted access by actual lady tradies only. At the moment we are really looking for a major sponsor and some financial supporters to move things along.  We're based in Newcastle, NSW, but service the whole of Australia and have contacts and supporters in Australia and around the world already.