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AATIS Spotlight: Women in Trades

It’s no secret that many industries and occupations face the challenge of underrepresentation of women in the workforce. There are varied reasons for this, ranging from education and awareness to workplace culture and diversity. While things may be improving, there is still some way to go.  

There is much to be gained from putting in the work and improving this situation. This research study indicates that female workers could be the answer to the skills shortage in manual trades, but only if more is done to remove the barriers females face when entering male-dominated industries. 

Recently, AATIS had the privilege of speaking to several inspiring young women, who are breaking down barriers and blazing a trail for the next generation of women in trades. We spoke about their experiences and how they approach some of the challenges they have encountered along their journeys. 


Megan Kelly – Painting and Decorating

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Megan Kelly is a highly accomplished painter and decorator, who achieved a nationally recognised qualification through Master Painters NSW & ACT. Since becoming qualified, Megan has shown the skill and patience required to become an established worker on the job site. When reflecting on her own experiences, Megan expressed that more young women need to be shown that trades and apprenticeships are viable career pathways. 

“I never thought of doing a trade, it was always office (jobs). I think it needs to be understood by young girls that yes, you can do a trade and no, it’s not going to be detrimental to your health.” 

When asked about the perception of female tradies amongst clients, Megan proudly boasts that many clients prefer it.  

“They’ve got the idea of attention to detail, they’re going to be cleaner and they’re going to be nicer to you. They love it.” 


Chrissy Gensch – Signwriting and Graphics

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Chrissy Gensch made the decision to leave high school in year 11 and has no regrets. After some discussion with her parents, Chrissy decided to pursue her passion for design and start an apprenticeship in signwriting and graphics. While studying at TAFE, Chrissy commenced an apprenticeship with Bear Designs, a well-known and industry leading signwriting workshop, based in Sydney. Disproving the stereotypes and changing the minds of her clients is what drives Chrissy and motivates her to perform at a high level. 

“A lot of people are surprised, but then when they leave I kind of prove them wrong. They leave and I did a good job,” Chrissy explains. 

“I hope I changed their mind. Because the more people see it, the more used to it they are and the more it will become a normal thing.” 

Thanks to some wise words from her mother, Chrissy pursued her passions and has never looked back. 

“My mum was like ‘do what makes you happy, do what you think you will be good at and do what you enjoy’…and I am really happy in this job.” 


Candace Spence – Carpentry

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Candace Spence is a former carpentry apprentice, who now works as a service coordinator for a plumbing company. Candace completed training through Master Builders NSW ACT, and has since participated in panel discussions as an ambassador for women in trades. We spoke with Candace about some of the challenges she faced during her apprenticeship, and how attitudes in the industry are changing. During high school, Candace was the only female in her woodworking class. This was no obstacle for her though, as she finished 3rd overall in her assessments. The most satisfying part of the job for Candace is seeing projects through, from start to finish. 

“What really drew me to carpentry in the first place is being able to build something and see the end product and be very proud of my work.” 

When asked about the attitudes towards women in the construction industry, Candace believes that things are beginning to change. 

“With more and more women in the trade area, the attitudes towards that are going to change dramatically,” she explains. 

“It’s going to change, and it’s going to come in a huge wave!” 


Megan, Chrissy, and Candace are just a few of the many inspiring and trailblazing women in trades. As we work towards greater diversity in the workforce it is important to always remember that for young women, a career in construction and trades is as viable as any. AATIS would like to thank Master Painters NSW ACT, Bear Designs, Master Builders NSW ACT and the Apprenticeship Engagement Forum for facilitating these conversations.