Women quitting the office to join the Canterbury rebuild

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Nearly two-and-a-half thousand more women are working in construction in Canterbury than this time last year, as many leave traditional roles behind and retrain.

Recent statistics also show that 17.8 per cent or nearly one in five of all construction workers in Canterbury are women.

Nowhere is the trend of women retraining in trades more evident than on the sites of the Canterbury rebuild and Seven Sharp caught up with some of those women.

Nearly one in five construction workers in Canterbury are women with many leaving their traditional jobs to re-train and take on the blokes.
Source: Seven Sharp

"Most people associate girls with hospitality and office work and all the boring stuff. Sorry girls. You won't get me in an office in a hurry," said Desiree Turner, busy painting in a house. 

Electrician Joy Lalahi, up a ladder installing lights, said: "It's like that slogan you know, 'you've got a trade, you've got it made'."

She says the jobs is "low stress and high entertainment". 

But still, even in 2015, it comes with a dose of sexism.

"I remember one of the plumbers needed a hand carrying a sheet of steel. And he goes 'oh can you carry a sheet of steel?' And I said 'well I can probably bench you and carry the sheet of steel'," Ms Lalahi said.

Female tradies told Seven Sharp their previous jobs were working for an electronics company, a scuba instructor, a translator, while another had a diploma in science.

The 2,400 women working in construction in Canterbury will likely see their ranks swell further soon. There are now eight times the number of women enrolling in trades training at Christchurch polytech than previously.

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