Theme Non-Traditional Trade Employment

Written by Georgine Clarsen, Joanne Pyke, Louisa Smith, Susan Margarey, Dinah Cohen, and Fi Shewring

This entry comprises seven sections, each written by a different contributor. The aim is to provide a general survey of women's leadership and involvement in trade employment that also emphasises particular themes and personal experience. While the major developments and opportunities for women in the trades have taken place in the later decades of the 20th century, the inclusion of a piece on pioneering feminist and printer/publisher Louisa Lawson provides evidence of a longer history of women's involvement, even though the numbers of such women were few. Georgine Clarsen's introductory thematic essay, Women's Leadership in the Trades: An Overview, maps out the recent experience of women's leadership in non-traditional areas of work in Australia. This is followed by Affirmative Action in Training 1987-2008, a reflection on the history and experiences of one of the most important government agencies engaged in advocacy work in trade training in Victoria, written by a former project officer of the agency, Joanne Pyke (now senior research officer, centre for Strategic Economic Studies, Victoria University). Louisa Smith, doctoral student in the Faculty of Education and Social Work, University of Sydney, then provides some insight into the experiences of women who entered the trades from the 1970s to the 1990s, drawing on an oral history research study. Titled Pioneering Manual Tradeswomen Talk about their Work and Lives, this short essay focuses particularly on the bodily experiences of entering a male-dominated work environment. Susan Magarey's piece, Lawson, Louisa Albury (1848-1920): Printer, Journalist, then takes us back to the late 19th and early 20th centuries in focusing on Louisa Lawson's leadership for women in the print trade (Radi, ADB; Francis, AWR). The last three contributions return the focus to the efforts of women leaders in the trades in the late 20th century to encourage greater female participation. Dinah Cohen's Breaking Down Trade Barriers is written from the point of view of a coordinator of Tradeswomen on the Move (TWOM) during the 1990s. Cohen, now Equity and Diversity Project Officer, University of Technology Sydney, produced the first national report on this program, which was conducted in several states from 1986 to 1996. Her essay is followed by Vicki Rich's Tradeswomen on the Move-Are We Still Moving?. Rich, now a community development worker with Streetlink Youth Health Services, Uniting Care, Adelaide, was a coordinator of the South Australian TWOM project in the early 1990s and offers a reflection on her work with the organisation and also a personal account of her experiences in male-dominated trades. Finally, in One Step Forward Two Steps Back: Advocating for a New Generation of Women in Male-dominated Trades, Fi Shewring, a trade teacher and tradeswoman, now president of Supporting and Linking Tradeswomen (SALT), gives an activist's account of recent campaigns to encourage women to enter trade training. While showing the new approaches taken in recent years, these three contributions reveal that the authors had no knowledge of earlier campaigns to encourage women to enter trade until they became involved with the online encyclopedia on women and leadership.

Published Resources

Australian Women's Register Entries


  • Clarke, Patricia, Pen Portraits: Women Writers and Journalists in Nineteenth Century Australia, Allen & Unwin, Sydney, New South Wales, 1988. Details
  • Magarey, Susan, Passions of the First Wave Feminists, University of New South Wales (UNSW) Press, Sydney, New South Wales, 2001. Details
  • Matthews, Brian, Louisa, McPhee Gribble/Penguin, Fitzroy, Victoria, 1988. Details
  • Ollif, Lorna, Louisa Lawson, Henry Lawson's Crusading Mother, Rigby, Adelaide, South Australia, 1978. Details
  • Pyke, Joanne, Women in Building: The Missing 51%, Australian Government Publishing Service (AGPS), Canberra, Australian Capital Territory, 1992. Details
  • Sawer, Marian, Sisters in Suits: Women and Public Policy in Australia, Allen & Unwin, Sydney, New South Wales, 1990. Details
  • Shewring, Fiona, Supporting Women in Non-traditional Trades, Illawarra Institute of TAFE, New South Wales, 2008. Details
  • Shewring, Fiona, The Future's Rosie: Initiatives and Pathways for Tradeswomen in the United States of America-an Australian Perspective, National Association of Women in Construction, Sydney, New South Wales, 2010. Details
  • Summers, Anne, The End of Equality: Work, Babies and Women's Choices in 21st-Century Australia, Random House Australia, Sydney, New South Wales, 2003. Details

Book Sections

  • Keating, Paul, 'Opening Address by the Hon. P.J. Keating, MP, Prime Minister of Australia', in Productive Diversity in Business: Profiting from Australia‚Äôs Multicultural Advantage, Commonwealth Government of Australia: Office of Multicultural Affairs: Committee for Economic Development of Australia, Canberra, Australian Capital Territory, 1992. Details

Journal Articles

  • Pyke, Joanne, 'CBT: Demarcation by gender?', Australian Journal of Career Development, vol. 2, no. 3, 1993, pp. 5 - 7. Details


  • Summers, Anne, The End of Equality? Australian Women and the Howard Government, Pamela Denoon Lecture, Australian National University (ANU), Canberra, Australian Capital Territory, 6 March 2003. Details

Newspaper Articles


  • Access Training and Employment Centre and the Victorian Office for Training and Further Education, National Women's Vocational Education and Training Strategy: Victorian Projects, 1997: Summary and Overview, Melbourne, Victoria, 1998. Details
  • Allen Consulting Group, Competitive Tendering and Contestable Funding in VET: Supporting Access and Equity: Policy Research Paper, Report to National VET Equity Advisory Council, Melbourne, Victoria, 2011. Details
  • Australian Committee on Vocational Education and Training Statistics (ACVETS), Australian Training Statistics: The National Summary, vol. 2 of 4, 1 April - 30 June 1996. Details
  • Carlson, Elle, Women in Apprenticeships: Sources of Data, Technical Paper, vol. 26, Bureau of Labour Market Research, Canberra, Australian Capital Territory, 1985. Details
  • Department of Employment, Education and Training & Australia Vocational Education, Employment, and Training Advisory Committee Women's Standing Committee, Women in Entry Level Training: Policy Review of the 1987 Report Women in Apprenticeship, Australian Government Publishing Service (AGPS), Canberra, Australian Capital Territory, 1991. Details
  • Hausmann R. ; Tyson, L. ; and Zahidi, S., Global Gender Gap Report: Measuring the Global Gender Gap, World Economic Forum, Geneva, Switzerland, 2010. Details
  • Huntly Consulting Group Pty Ltd, Exit from the Trades: Literature Review, Australian Government: Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations, Australian Government Publishing Service (AGPS), Canberra, Australian Capital Territory, 2008. Details
  • Karmel, Tom, Individual-based Completion Rates for Apprentices, National Centre for Vocational Education Research, Adelaide, South Australia, 2011. Details
  • Kirby, P. E. F. (Chairperson), Report of the Committee of Inquiry into Labour Market Programs, Australian Government Publishing Service (AGPS), Canberra, Australian Capital Territory, January 1985. Details
  • Pyke, Joanne, Evaluation and Strategies for Assisting Women through Group Training Companies, Affirmative Action in Training Inc. and the Office of Training and Further Education, 1997. Details
  • Shewring, Fiona, The Female Tradie: Challenging Employment Perspectives in Non-traditional Trades for Women, National Centre for Vocational Education Research, Adelaide, South Australia, 2009. Details
  • South Australia, Employment and Training Equity Unit, Tradeswomen on the Move: Evaluation Report, Office of Employment & Training, Adelaide, South Australia, October 1987. Details
  • Working Group on Women in Apprenticeship, Report, Department of Employment, Education and Training, Commonwealth/State Training Advisory Committee, Australian Government Publishing Service (AGPS), Adelaide, South Australia, 1987. Details

Online Resources