Australia has a gender pay gap. It exists partly because men work in different, higher paid, occupations than women, including in the high paying (and in demand) trades of electrotechnology, telecommunications, construction, commerce, and engineering. Few women take up these trades, and that has changed little over the past 20 years.
When we sent eight young interns out to interview tradeswomen, we found out why.
Our tradeswomen confirmed what other research has established, that girls go through a process of ‘editing out’ options about what they think they can be from an early age. It starts before school with messages about “girls don’t do …”, and continues with negative messages about “university being the best pathway”, “trades are wasting your potential” and “women are not strong enough”. Teachers and career advisors in schools can be part of this process by actively discouraging young women to consider trades and not providing advice, support, role models, or opportunities to try them out.