On this episode of the This is a Man’s World: She Who Dares, Wins podcast, our guest is Melbourne Chippy Chick Stef! From a young age, Stef watched her father on the job site, and when the time came for her to choose her career path, she knew that she wanted to follow in her father’s footsteps of carpentry and building.
Her training and apprenticeship were quite extensive in that she learned about all aspects of the building process, and she has settled into her “sweet spot” of management over the last several years. While many people would shy away from this type of demanding and fast-paced task, Stef has found a good rhythm in management that allows her to truly relish her time on the tools as relaxing.
Her past work experience in an office setting also provided her with good perspective for the differences between working with mainly women and working with mainly men. Without a doubt, Stef says that men are easier to work with and manage as long as you consciously control your emotions and keep your cool even during heated discussions. Men put up with less gossip and drama, tend to get straight to the point, help you develop a thick skin, and demonstrate how to let things go.
When it comes to social media, Stef has built quite a platform and audience all over the world, and she was even asked to be a brand ambassador for DeWalt. Social media is a blessing and a curse at times because for every encouraging comment, there is likely a disparaging or mean-spirited comment as well, and it is difficult to always brush off the trolls when you’re putting your heart out there for people to see. Stef tries to rise above the negativity and encourage a spirit of true community through things like The Tradie Lady Club, which has become a true source of mutual support.
To women who are considering a profession or are already working in the trade industry, Stef encourages you to focus on your work and the tasks in front of you, proving yourself to be competent by your work and merits. If you focus too much on the fact that you are a female in a male dominated field, you will get distracted or feel out of place. But by committing to doing good work, regardless of your gender, you will truly succeed.
1:20 – Introduction of Stef and where her journey to becoming a carpenter and builder began
3:08 – Stef’s experience as the only girl in her apprenticeship school
4:21 – The importance of having a supportive dad to teach her about carpentry
6:34 – Stef’s perspective of being on the tools versus managing a project
9:29 – Physical aspects of working in the industry
11:34 – Stef’s funniest experiences on the job
14:26 – Learning how to handle power tools
15:53 – Becoming an ambassador for DeWalt
18:20 – The many misconceptions and judgments Stef has experienced on social media
22:00 – How to navigate the crazy world of social media comments
24:00 – The Tradie Lady Club (Australia) – how it started and how it has grown since
28:39 – Is it difficult to manage men?
32:35 – What are the positives about working with guys?
35:47 – Are there certain types of girls that are cut out for work in the trades?
39:33 – Stef’s advice to other girls in the industry or considering entering the industry
“It was a bit hard not having a girl to lean back on or talk things out with.”
“I was taught a whole range of things – not just carpentry – and that was really good.”
“Work gets harder when you get to a certain stage.”
“When you stand together, people see you more.”
“We are kind of forced – in a way – to act like men on the job.”
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