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Women still finding it tough to break into 'male trades'

REVVED UP ABOUT CARS: Stephanie Alexander loves cars and desperately wants an automotive apprenticeship but believes being a woman has been a disadvantage in her quest for employment.
REVVED UP ABOUT CARS: Stephanie Alexander loves cars and desperately wants an automotive apprenticeship but believes being a woman has been a disadvantage in her quest for employment. John Mccutcheon

SHE'S 17 and very keen but Stephanie Alexander feels she doesn't have the right parts to be a mechanic.

The Year 12 graduate and automotive service technology student said she had struggled to get anyone to look twice at her for an apprenticeship and she felt it was because she was a woman.

This is despite the automotive industry last year urging women to get involved in the trade.

"I've always been interested in cars and I'm looking to get a light-vehicle mechanical apprenticeship," she said.

Miss Alexander, who lives at Black Mountain, said she had approached about 15 businesses on the Coast to no avail.

She said she was willing to commute up to an hour and a half for a job.

"I think because I'm female they look at me and think 'she must be kidding'.

"They say, 'yeah, I'll take a look' and I hear nothing back."

Miss Alexander said she would be grateful for a three-day trial to show what she could do.

"A lot are still old fashioned in their way of thinking, they think the trades should be just for men," - Stephanie Alexander.

In 2013 it was reported the automotive repair and maintenance industry was in the grip of a skills shortage and that a small percentage of women were employed in the industry.

There was a strong push for women to put their hands up for apprenticeships.

TAFE Queensland East Coast Centre director for trades and resources Jody Ridgeway said there were now record numbers of women entering traditional trade areas in a wider variety of disciplines.

"The stigma that women can't do jobs predominantly done by men no longer exists and working in this industry I have only experienced positive things within our industry," she said.

Ms Ridgeway encouraged all women considering entering the trade and resource industry to do all they could to stand out.

She said she felt employers were looking for apprentices with a good attitude who were punctual, well presented and eager to learn, regardless of gender.

Topics:  apprenticeships automotive industry business employment mechanics work



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