It was the end of the day at the coal mine in Queensland I had been working at for 18 months and I was talking to a fellow qualified female mechanic. We weren’t exclusively talking about being women in trade, rather, we were talking about how we got into the industry when she shrugged and said: “It’s just a job.”
Fireworks went off in my mind.
You’re probably wondering why such a bland, ordinary comment felt so magnificent to me. As a woman in trade who spends time advocating for more women and girls to consider skilled pathways, I have been surrounded by exceptional stories of how women found their passions in unusual places. To an extent, I believe that this will be most cases until women are no longer considered a minority in such roles or industries. But the unspoken goal at the end of all this work is that it’s no longer ‘special’ to be a woman in male-dominated industries and that industries will employ a larger portion of women. It is also the goal that more women will genuinely consider and enjoy those types of job roles – whether it’s plumbing, construction, mechanical repairs, or roof tiling (the list goes on).
That is what balance in the workforce will look like. So, in my mind, those four words “it’s just a job” captured everything that industries and their cultures are shifting towards. When women are choosing jobs in mines – or as tradies – and it isn’t their ‘passion’, but merely a successful or practical job role for the individual, it shows normality in the situation. It shows a regularity for women to be in those job roles. It may not be a perfect balance, but a balancing all the same.
Choosing a trade career doesn’t have to be a life sentence. Just because you pick a trade instead of academic studies doesn’t mean you are bound to be a trady forever. It can be a stepping-stone into a career within large businesses. It can be a skill to tuck under your belt until you know what you want to pursue next. It can be a chance to learn about yourself and the workforce while making money.
I have an unusual story myself, finding the trade of being a diesel mechanic by accident through work experience in high school – and loving it! But, while I share an exciting story frequently to advocate for women in trade careers, I know that being a diesel mechanic isn’t my passion. It is just a job – albeit a job I love. It is a decision I don’t regret because it was the best decision for me out of high school. Even now, it is still the best decision for me and what I want out of my lifestyle, finances, and work satisfaction. But I know it won’t be forever – and that’s okay!
When it comes to the daily grind of being a trady, whether you found the industry in an unusual way, are extremely passionate about the trade, or merely enjoy the work, it is still just a job once it becomes your normal routine. I think there is nothing greater than becoming a trady just because you like the work.
Is your work just a job? I’d love to know in the comments.
Thanks for reading!