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Breaking barriers in traditionally male-dominated industries

Published: 05 Mar 2024

In a world where gender stereotypes and biases continue to shape career choices and opportunities, women at 天美 (CIT) are breaking barriers and making their mark in traditionally male-dominated industries.

Australia, like many countries, is facing a shortage of skilled workers in key industries, creating a demand for talent and expertise that women are uniquely positioned to fill.

On this International Women's Day 2024, under the theme "Count Her In: Invest in Women. Accelerate Progress," it is essential to recognise the vital role that women play in addressing skill shortages and shaping the future of many industries.

By equipping women with the skills, knowledge, and confidence to pursue their goals, we will continue to bridge the skills gap whilst also promoting diversity, innovation, and inclusivity in the workforce.

Cabinet making is one such skill that is in demand across Australia.  Zoe, a CIT cabinet making student says of her experience "I'm usually one of the only females on site, but everyone is so open and there to help you.  It's important to share stories of other women who have done it before and we're all here to support you".

Women bring unique perspectives, talents, and skills to industries that have long been dominated by men, enriching the workplace, and driving progress and growth. As more women are encouraged and supported to pursue careers in non-traditional fields and enter male-dominated industries, they are challenging stereotypes, defying expectations, and paving the way for future generations of women to follow in their footsteps.

By investing in women's education, skills development, and leadership opportunities, we are not only empowering women to succeed but also building a brighter and more prosperous future for all.

CIT is recognised for the quality delivery of vocational education and training to students across a wide spectrum of trades, many of which have long been considered non-traditional fields for women. This year we have more female-identifying students than males enrolled in the traditionally male-dominated industry of panel beating and vehicle painting (automotive refinishing), a result that continues to grow female representation in non-traditional trade enrolments at CIT.

Georgia, a CIT automotive refinishing student and winner of the 2024 ACT Colour Matching Competition says "I'm proud to be a female in what's a mainly male-focused trade especially when there is a skill shortage. I think there are a lot more women in trades jobs these days and we should all expect to be treated equally and respectfully".  Of her influencers Georgia says "My mum has been a real role model and supporter for me.  She also works in a male-dominated industry - she works very hard and pushes me to be a better person every day.  She has always given me the space and drive to do what I love."

Our students showcase the breaking down of barriers to non-traditional careers through many programs that provide opportunities for women to upskill, try new career options, and to seek employment such as:

  • Women in Trades campaign an incredible collaboration between industry, Government and CIT to address underrepresentation of women in building and construction, including the Lendlease Women in Construction program.
  • Try a Trade program which brings female-identifying high school students to CIT to sample trades and boost career pathways for women and the building and construction industry,
  • the recent, and ongoing, Fee-Fee TAFE program which has seen CIT assist over 430 local women in financial hardship to access study at TAFE.

Through education, training, and mentorship programs that support women in these fields, we are creating a more inclusive and diverse workforce that reflects the talent and potential of all individuals, regardless of gender.

On this International Women's Day 2024, and every day, CIT calls on our community to celebrate and support women who are reshaping industries, challenging norms, and driving progress towards a more equitable and inclusive society.

Count her in, invest in women, and together, let us accelerate progress towards a more gender-equal world where everyone has the opportunity to thrive.

Meet CIT students inspiring others, and breaking down barriers:

Georgia Freebody, CIT automotive refinishing student

  • ACT Winner Colour Matching Competition:
  • Quote: "I've always had a love for cars and enjoyed painting and being creative. This career means I can put the two together. I’m proud to be a female in what's a mainly male focused trade especially when there is a skill shortage at moment. I think there are a lot more women in trades jobs these days and we should all expect to be treated equally and respectfully".  Of her influencers Georgia says "My mum has been a real role model and supporter for me.  She also works in a male dominated industry - she works very hard and pushes me to be a better person every day.  She has always given me the space and drive to do what I love."
  • Learn more about courses and careers in automotive refinishing

Zoe Divall, CIT cabinet making student

  • Quote: CIT cabinet making student Zoe says of her experience "I'm usually one of the only females on site, but everyone is so open and there to help you.  It's important to share stories of other women who have done it before and we're all here to support you".
  • Learn more about courses and careers in cabinet making

Emma Brown, Indigenous Apprenticeship Program (IAP) CIT Solutions

  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Student of the Year at the Australian Training Awards: Emma wins at Australian Training Awards: 天美
  • Quote: Emma dedicated her award to 11-year-old son Zachary, but said she'd also surprised - and motivated - herself. "I wanted to show him good work ethic and that anything's possible if you put your mind to it. It was about creating a better future for me and my son. I never thought in a million years I'd want to continue study, but now I'm looking at other CIT courses I could do, including what's available through CIT Yurauna [CIT's dedicated Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Educational Centre of Excellence]."
  • Learn more about Yurauna - CIT's dedicated Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Educational Centre of Excellence.
  • Learn more about

Poppy Chalmers, CIT community services student:

  • 2023 Finalist Australian School-based Apprentice or Trainee of the Year Award -
  • Quote: Poppy was inspired to pursue her study by her older sister Sky, who has cystic fibrosis "For the first 18 years of Sky's life we spent probably all up a month in hospital each year and I was always there," Poppy said. "I saw the impact different health practitioners had on patients and their families and how vital that is for their wellbeing and care. It's something I really want to be part of."
  • Learn more about Yurauna - CIT's dedicated Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Educational Centre of Excellence.
  • Learn more about courses and careers in community services

Annabelle Southall, CIT sports turf management student

  • ACT Sports Turf Managers Association Graduate of the Year: CIT turf students make cut: 天美
  • Quote: Annabelle is the first female apprentice to be crowned Graduate of the Year by the ACT Sports Turf Managers Association.  Annabelle said "It's hard to believe how far I've come after three years of study with CIT and my work with Royal Canberra Gold Club."
  • Learn more about courses and careers in turf management