38% of female trade apprentices have experienced sexism in the workplace

Gender discrimination and sexism in traditionally male-dominated trades are key concerns for young females who are considering taking up an apprenticeship, according to the latest research from Year 13 and VERTO.

The Females in Trades & Apprenticeships NSW Survey surveyed more than 1,000 females aged 15-24, in metropolitan and regional NSW, with the aim of understanding the attraction and retention of females into apprenticeships and trades.

The research report, released this week, found that:

  • 38% of female trade apprentices said they experienced gender discrimination in the workplace during or after their apprenticeship
  • 44% of respondents who had completed or were currently completing a trade apprenticeship said they faced barriers to gaining apprenticeships because of their gender
  • 26% of respondents who had left their apprenticeship before completion said they left because of gender discrimination
  • 58% of those who said they were likely to do an apprenticeship in the future said they were concerned they would face gender discrimination in the workplace

VERTO Chief Executive Officer, Ron Maxwell, said gender discrimination of any form needs to stop immediately.

“There are many stereotypes about women and trade careers that can be a barrier to female participation in these industries. One particularly persistent stereotype is that women don’t perform as well as men in traditional trades, but the evidence, both reported and anecdotal, tells a completely different story,” Mr Maxwell said.

“VERTO employs some of the most talented and hardworking female tradespeople in NSW. If we can showcase some of the success stories, and take a different approach to how we talk about trade careers with young females, both at school and at home, we can change the way the next generation view trade careers.

“Given the fact that Australia is currently suffering from a significant skills shortage and NSW is soon going to need a lot more highly skilled tradespeople as we recover from disasters such as bushfires, floods and the COVID-19 pandemic – the need for change has never been more important.”

Year13 Co-founder, Saxon Phipps, said change was needed in workplaces to make young women feel more confident to enter into them.

“It is undeniable that the world of work has changed significantly over the past 20 years,” Mr Phipps said.

“There used to be little to no participation of young women in these traditional trades. Now we’re seeing this shift and I think it’s encouraging that young women are able to speak of these issues to continue the advancement of women in these traditional trades.

“We think bringing these issues to the fore can help these industries increase female participation and better support the women who enter into them.”

To access the full report Females in Trades & Apprenticeships NSW Survey, please visit here.