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Morgan Purdie

Apprentice HVAC Technician

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A love of hands-on learning at school led Morgan to seek out a technical apprenticeship in a male dominated industry. She discusses the challenges she faced along the way and the importance of choosing the RIGHT company to work for!

Tell us a little bit about yourself?

I work for Beaver Williams as a first-year air conditioning and refrigeration apprentice technician. I’m currently studying with TAFE NSW completing Certificate III in Electro Technology.

Why did you choose a technical trade?

I have always enjoyed being hands on, in school I found that was how I learnt best. I like problem solving and the challenges technical trades have to offer, and this trade offers so much variety and so much opportunity for growth and learning every day as it is an ever-changing industry.

What challenges did you come up against in looking for an apprenticeship?

There are definitely a lot of challenges to applying for an apprenticeship as a female. During the process of interviewing and discussing apprenticeship opportunities, I found a lot of companies wanted to hire me for the wrong reasons, however, the most common challenge was companies telling me I wasn’t physically strong enough to work within their business in the field.

These assumptions were made with no knowledge of my capabilities, just gender-based conjectures which was a difficult set back. Having the assumption made once was challenging but having it made multiple times, I found very backwards. There is so much old-fashioned thinking still present in the work force, especially in the technical trades.

I found it really challenging to be able to combat the assumptions as they all came from a place of generational differences more then anything. I believe that over time these initial judgements will cease to exist, however, I think the best thing to do is understand that a company who is already making gender based assumptions rather then giving you a fair try, is one who may never have your best interest at heart, no matter how hard you fight to prove your worth!

 

If more women are welcomed into trades the balance would be a great positive for many industries. As a female I bring a different approach in my thinking than that of males in my field. Women are known for putting in extra time and care, we bring emotional intelligence and excellent people skills to the role.

Did being a female seeking work in male dominated field worry you?

I’ve always worked in more male dominated industries so I found it quite exciting as I knew that whilst it would be challenging at times, especially in a site position, it would also be incredibly rewarding. I made the decision before applying for apprenticeships to really take the time to find a company where I felt supported. I wanted to specifically choose a company whose values aligned with mine and where I felt comfortable enough to speak up if ever I felt uncomfortable. My strategy worked and I now work for a company where I really enjoy being in a positive environment with the support i need.

What’s it like being a female in a male dominated industry?

Overall, it’s fantastic. I enjoy the diversity of my job and the appreciation that I get for the work that I do. I find that generally it is a nice environment and majority of clients treat me well, however there are a minority in the community who can be narrow minded at times and make unflattering comments which seem to come from an outdated view. It is comments of this nature which present a challenge in dealing with a situation where I am not being treated like an equal with my male workmates.

I realise that all apprentices need to work hard to earn respect when they are starting out, however, sometimes on occasion I do not receive the respect that I deserve for the high standard of work that I contribute. I came into the industry with the knowledge that I would face challenges of this nature so I would say that my reality of the situation is what I expected. I don’t expect this to change in the near future as men and women are very different to one another.

If more women are welcomed into trades the balance would be a great positive for many industries. As a female I bring a different approach in my thinking than that of males in my field. Women are known for putting in extra time and care, we bring emotional intelligence and excellent people skills to the role. I have been told that when I am on the job, clients and my co-workers display a higher level of professionalism because I am there.

What are your goals in your trade?

To successfully complete my apprenticeship and obtain full time work with my current company, Beaver Williams. I would like to see what opportunities arise with Beaver Williams at the conclusion of my training and continue working with them.

I would love in the future, to start my own business or buy into one. I am passionate that one day I will be able to work with other women in trades, to help encourage and mentor females to be confident enough to chase their dreams, whatever they may be.

Morgan testing for power before changing a  fan motor.

What advice do you have for other females looking to break into a male dominated technical trade?

Seek advice from women who are working in a technical trade. There are many support groups out there for females in the trade and females looking at joining the trades. The main support group I utilise is TLC (tradie lady club) run by a young successful business woman in Melbourne. It’s a great bunch of like minded women who all work in the trades as both apprentices and qualified technicians. It’s a safe haven where you can discuss problems and experiences we have, and then get support from those who have been in similar situations.

I have also found support in the Master Builders Assocation – Women Building Australia mentoring program. This program has given me many opportunities to meet business women from the building sector and discuss their career paths as well as get some amazing advice from them. Feeling supported makes the job much easier!

If you would like a successful career in the trade industry, know your worth as a female in a male dominated industry. Set your goals and really focus on finding a company that will help you with future growth and that will support the differences that will make you an asset to any business. And, just be yourself, the right company will only encourage you to be the best version of yourself, both in and out of your career. Go for it!!

Would you recommend females to consider a career in technical trades?

Yes, 100%. Women in technical trades are a huge asset. Women offer a different skill set than males and can really add some positive diversity to workplaces. It’s a daunting experience and one that can really test you, but it is such a rewarding career and can lead to some amazing things.

 

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