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WOMEN in the Grampians are fighting to break the glass ceiling in male-dominated industries. To recognize International Women’s Day, a new program will be launched by Women’s Health Grampians to support women in trade industries in the Grampians. Act On Site is a program that will aim to promote equal opportunity and gender equality in traditionally male dominated industry in the Grampians Region. Women’s Health Grampians Act On Site consultant Erika Williams said the program was about meaningful cultural change. “Tradeswomen really are a dedicated and determined collective and the industry is only missing out not drawing from the 50 per cent of the population that have so much to offer,” she said. “Women make only three per cent of the Australian skilled trades sector, a figure that has remained stagnant for decades. Women in construction and manufacturing face more barriers and progress more slowly than their male counterparts. IN OTHER NEWS: “Women in trades of all types are excited to be center stage, included in the conversation and truly want to our workplace to reflect the world in which we live. Most recently I spoke to two senior figures in both HR and recruitment partners in large local industry, who stated the women in trades were so detailed, capable and invaluable to balance out the team of traditions. The standard of their work just speaks for itself.” Act On Site will offer localized support and consultation to embed meaningful actions and change. The program is managed in a flexible, easy to access series of fortnightly or monthly meeting over 9-12 months, with online support, resources and invaluable face to face training and panels for staff.”Women often find access and entry to the “boys club” of manufacturing or construction challenging,” Ms Williams said. “Recruitment often lacks transparency and formal processes whereby selection takes place by who you know rather than what you know and is informed by an “in group bias”. “Many women enter or return to the industry after they pursued a pathway they felt conditioned to follow rather than what they “wanted to follow”, finding at a later age they muster the resilience, tenacity and soft skills to counter those barriers and find success “Workplaces must be welcoming for all genders. Many reports I have read and anecdotal stories I have heard indicate women still feel they are not valued equally and have to work doubly hard to prove their metal.” Ms Williams said action needed to be taken to see a more an equal workforce in traditional ‘ male’ industries – not only for equality but to tackle a labor shortage. “In the Grampians region unequal workforce participation in the construction and manufacturing industries remains high, not just in industry but in the pipeline for the future,” she said. Vocational Education in Schools data, tells us female enrollments for male dominated trades such as construction, plumbing, engineering and manufacturing are 50 per cent lower than those in the Greater Bendigo region, and at least 200 per cent lower than in the City of Greater Geelong . “All of us particularly in the regions need to make a collective effort with our young people to avoid labeling jobs with a gender and/or railroading girls into careers or employment informed by our own gender bias and historical blinkers. “In terms of recruitment and retention; a welcoming, forward thinking, gender equitable workplace is paramount.” Act On Site is about helping workplaces to remove gendered language, behaviors and attitudes so that women’s technical capability, capacity and skill can be recognized and that we all have an opportunity to step into an equal playing field. Act On Site will host an event on March 9 to launch the program and will include guest speakers JK Personnel managing director Tim Walshe, LIVEWIRE owner, an all female electrical and design business Kylie Slade, and Department of Transport Sprayline Services director Julian Govan. To register for the launch or to join Act On Site, contact Erika Williams at Erika@whg.org.au While you’re with us, you can now receive updates straight to your inbox from The Ararat Advertiser. sure you’re up-to-date with all the news from across the Ararat shire, sign up here.

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