Breaking down the barriers for young women entering trades
To see a female tradie on the job site is still very uncommon, but Elissa Pirotta is doing everything she can to change that.
A licensed plumber and the owner of Valetta Projects, Elissa’s determined to make a career in trades a more appealing option for young women. “At school, a career in trades is rarely discussed, especially if you’re female. We need diversity in everything we do. It’s important that there aren’t any gender barriers when it comes to someone’s chosen career,” says Elissa.
Elissa is passionate about equal work opportunities and this year she will endeavour to introduce a co-educational program into selected ACT public and private primary schools that showcases the multifaceted skills required in the trades. “I want to raise awareness of the opportunities available to all young people and to inform them that there’s more to plumbing than working with toilets and getting dirty,” says Elissa. “Plumbing is an ideal job for anyone who’s hands-on, active and enjoys a challenge. It’s an incredibly rewarding profession, especially when you see how happy your customers are once you’ve finished your job.”
Elissa, a teacher at Canberra Institute of Technology's trade centre, is looking to work with educators to develop individual school-based projects such as building a sustainable garden. The program will provide children with an opportunity to work collaboratively and interact with a variety of trades such as plumbing, electrical, horticulture and solar panel installation. “Kids will be more interested in joining the trades if they know the variety of work and skills that are involved in the job,” says Elissa.
Through education and awareness, Elissa aims to see more diversity and collaboration in the trades.
With over 15 years working in the industry, Elissa’s achievements include operating independently for 10 years (2019) and winning the 2015 National Women in Construction Award (NAWIC) for Tradeswoman of the Year. Throughout her career, she’s witnessed changes to the plumbing and trade sector including seeing more women working in the construction industry. “We’re all equal and have the right to do what we feel we’re good at and what makes us happy. Women are just as capable as men in their fields and can add differing perspectives, strengths and talents to the workplace,” says Elissa.
When asked what the future looks like for women in construction she says: “The future is looking bright, but the industry needs both young men and women to be working collaboratively, using brain, brawn and resilience despite their occupation.”
If you’re interested in supporting Elissa with her 2019 school project ambitions, contact her using the details below:
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