Tradeswomen Australia

Giving vulnerable girls, women and non-binary people the opportunity to learn a trade – and improving workplace culture at the same time.

Grant Type
Economic Empowerment

Tradeswomen Australia has a vision of an Australia where women and girls want to, can and do, work in trades. The barriers to this vision become a reality are many and complex, but as CEO Clea Smith explains, a consistent effort to improve education, recruitment and workplace culture for women in trades will bring about the change needed.

“TWA was founded on lived experience, by motor mechanic Fiona McDonald, who kept hearing from her fellow women tradies about how difficult it was to get in to the industry and the some of the terrible culture they experienced when they got there,” Clea says.

“She took it upon herself to build a network to help women in vulnerable situations find security in a trade job, as well as change social attitudes so that employers are empowered to remove barriers for women.”

In Australia now, only 2% of the trade sector identifies as female - a statistic that has not changed in 25 years – and more than 50% of women do not complete their apprenticeships. This is despite male-dominated trades generally having a higher income than traditionally female ones (beauty, child care, aged care) and skills shortages leaving employers in need of staff.

TWA is changing this by helping hundreds of women every year access programs focused on trades career education, mentoring and job placements. It also delivers culture training to improve gender equality at trade employers.

In 2023, The Bennelong Foundation partnered with TWA on its “Pathways to Trades – Supporting Women to Succeed” program. Targeted at younger unemployed women, girls and non-binary people experiencing disadvantage in Brimbank, Banyule and Dandenong in Victoria, the program offers workshops and mentoring, and can match participants with culturally appropriate and safe apprenticeships at suitable employers.

“This program was born out of the COVID-19 pandemic because we saw first hand how women in lower socio-economic circumstances now have even fewer employment opportunities,” Clea says.

“The women on this program are being exposed to the range of options available in stable and well-paid trade jobs, which is a pathway most haven’t considered because it’s not been presented at school, or in their social or cultural circles.”

TWA has published a number of research reports investigating the barriers for women entering and working in gender balanced trade industries, including a paper on Cross Industry Barriers Interventions and an Employment White Paper.

Job seekers can find more information at TWA programs here.

Employers can find information on training and support services here.

Impactful results

The Benefit

Tradeswomen Australia has enabled vulnerable young women in Melbourne to participate in training and employment opportunities.


Better access to the training and skills vulnerable young women need to find a job, earn an income and become self-supporting.


Greater willingness among members of trade industry to cooperate with each other in order to prosper.

“In Australia now, only 2% of the trade sector identifies as female, a statistic that has not changed in 25 years.”

Clea Smith

Chief Executive Officer, Tradeswomen Australia

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