“Focus on your superpower and remain true to yourself”

Each of our schools proudly celebrated International Women’s Day (IWD) on 8 March with the 2023 theme of Embrace Equity. IWD is about challenging gender stereotypes, calling out discrimination, drawing attention to bias and advocating for inclusion. Of course, at the AITC we embrace equity every day however IWD provides a wonderful time for us to come together and reflect on how far we have come, and what more we can do.

Between 6–10 March our students attended several events and created an impact with their attendance. Twenty young women and staff across the AITC attended the National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC) International Women’s Day lunch. The lunch was a celebration of women in the construction industry and a platform to initiate and create change in the industry. Di Farmer, Minister for Employment and Small Business and Minister for Training and Skills Development, as well as other inspiring keynote speakers such as Yemi Penn presented the very latest in progressing a gender equal future and also provided some tips on how to progress this within the construction industry. Yemi asked all women to focus on their superpower and remain true to themselves.

The event was empowering for our deliberately different young women which celebrated their courage and hard work. It also acknowledged the challenges women face in industry. Keynote speakers referred to our AITC female young people during their speeches to acknowledge their bravery.

As well as the NAWIC IWD lunch, our Sunshine Coast students also attended the Annual Queensland Resources Council (QRC)/Women in Mining and Resources Queensland (WIMARQ) IWD Breakfast. Team Leader Emma van Oostrum attended the event with senior students Carlin (who is part of the QMEA ambassador program), Hayley and Dylan. The event was hosted by award-winning Australian journalist and television presenter Jennifer Byrne, with keynote speaker, Fabian Dattner, founder, and Chief Executive Officer of Dattner Group. Fabian is well-known as an inspiring leader, ethics commentator, and a leadership activist. The breakfast formed part of the QRC’s diversity and inclusion strategy which aims to increase the proportion of women in Queensland’s resources sector to 30 percent by 2026. We would like to thank the QMEA (Queensland Mineral Energy Academy) for IWD tickets for our Sunshine Coast students.

Lily D. and Jazmin C. represented the AITC Ipswich school and attended the Awesome Women in Construction (AWIC) IWD event at Victoria Park Golf Club. This event celebrated the social, economic, cultural, political, professional, and personal achievements of women all around the world. Lily said, “it was refreshing to see women who are the bosses of their companies.”

Our young women enjoyed the day meeting successful women in industry such as AITC alumni Keeley Tilbrook from Dawson Electric. During the event the AITC received a big shout out — including Keeley and our current students. Emcee, Kristina Charchalis-Rana, Brand & Corporate Manager at Alder Constructions and Amanda Bulow, AWIC CEO, both made mention of the positive impact we continue to have in industry. Keynote speaker, Karen Jacobsen (the GPS girl), gave an inspirational speech about recalculating your life — designed to support leaders in navigating change powerfully and making effective decisions.

The AITC Gold Coast school hosted an IWD panel discussion covering the topic of equity in industry. The panel was hosted by Principal Mark Bohan and our panel members were Jodie Wood (General Manager of Open Projects Group), Ella O’Shannessy (2022 AITC graduate and TAFE School Based Apprentice of the Year — Gold Coast), Kimberley Spencer (AITC Industry Consultant) and Natalie Chanter (AITC Industry Operations Manager).

Ella spoke about the question of ‘Why are you doing this trade?’ Her response was simple — her career is her choice and she is following her pathway. She found many of the men in her industry may have doubter her, however, soon offered her respect as they could see her dedication, work ethic and skills.

Kimberley said, “it’s essential to follow your path and not be deterred.” She spoke about finding the right employer, an employer who values diversity and invests in developing an inclusive workplace.

Jodie Wood is a fantastic supporter of the AITC. Open Projects hosts site tours for our Rookies, provides guest speakers to engage our students about industry, provides work experience opportunities and has employed around 14 young people from the AITC into apprenticeships.

Jodie spoke about her journey starting as a 16-year-old in the building and construction industry. She identified key responsibilities for both employers and employees as we strive to embrace equity.

Natalie spoke about the importance of embracing equity when building the culture at school including community, equity, and inclusion. Through embracing the AITC values of respect, safety, courage and mateship our young people can be the next generation to continue the change that Jodie identified within industry.

These events were fantastic for our young people so they could be inspired and empowered by other women across many different industries.