As Electrical Trades Union delegates join women from around the nation at the Women in Male-Dominated Occupations and Industries conference (WIMDOI), it is clear that our economy and society will suffer unless we encourage more women into skilled trades.
Delegates to the conference heard that women entering these professions face an uphill battle in the face of a traditionally male-dominated culture.
“A lack of participation in high-paying skilled trades and science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields is one of the major contributors to the gender wage gap,” said ETU delegate, industrial officer Ashvini Ambihaipahar.
“It’s not good enough to simply express a wish that more women join these fields. The industry as a whole, including unions, needs to address the cultural and structural barriers to entry.”
Ms Ambiahaipahar is one of 24 ETU and CEPU delegates attending the conference, with every state represented.
“Events like this are vital if we are to be successful in increasing female participation in the electrical, plumbing and other traditionally male-dominated trades.”
“They allow women from around the country to share their skills, experience and knowledge with one another, and form a cohesive strategy for gender reform in our industries.”
She called on government and industry bodies to recognise the need for more women to enter male-dominated industries, and to align their activities with this strategic goal.
“It cannot just be left to unions and industry to solve this injustice. We need to adopt a holistic approach to problems like this.”
“Unless we tackle problems like domestic violence, education and training, childcare and superannuation, we are going to see women continue to be under-represented in our industries, and continue to be subject to unequal conditions across the board.”
The WIMDOI conference continues until Wednesday. Speakers include ACTU President Ged Kearney, Fairfax columnist Jenna Price and Sydney University’s Dr Rae Cooper.
WIMDOI is a trade union initiative aimed at addressing the gender imbalance in male-dominated industries and sectors.