Bricklayer Chelsea Whelan has some advice for women thinking of working in a traditional trade – “just do it.”
Chelsea is Tasmania’s first female bricklaying apprentice – a title which the laid back 20-year-old sees as no big deal.
With a family background in the trade, Chelsea says she grew up tagging along to job sites with her father and grandfather and wanted to be a bricklayer from a young age.
“I was probably about six or seven when I first went on site. I loved it. I used to slide around in the sandpit and hand a few bricks over to dad.
“Then it kind of got pushed away because it wasn’t really the thing (for women) back then but no-one seems to care these days so why not?”
Chelsea tried several career options including a traineeship in an office and butchery and kitchen work before her early interest and love of being outdoors led her back to bricklaying.
Chelsea is now employed by Crossin Bricklaying and loves her work.
“The thing I like most about it is probably the end product. I like being able to stand up in front of a house and say, ‘yeah, I built that.’
Chelsea says her employer, Andrew Crossin, has been really supportive and she hasn’t encountered too many issues as female in a male-dominated trade.
“Everyone seems to not be phased. You get a few ‘Oh, there’s a chick, but that’s about it. Sometimes people will be like, ‘G’day mate,’ and then they look at you and they go ‘oh sorry,’ but I don’t care, it’s fine.”
Andrew, says he had no hesitation in employing Chelsea because of her great attitude.
“Chelsea just gets in and has a go. She wants to do it. I don’t see it as a massive deal, I’m just employing someone who’s right for the job.”
Chelsea is in her second year of her Certificate III in Bricklaying at TasTAFE’s Clarence Campus and says she enjoys the training.”
“It’s pretty good, it’s fun. I like working over there (Clarence Campus) and getting a few days to be inside and working with (TasTAFE bricklaying teacher) Paul.”
Chelsea has some simple advice for women looking at following in her footsteps. “Just do it! No one cares, so you might as well.”
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