Boys proof the master's apprentice can be a Miss

JESSICA Boys, two weeks out from finishing her fitter and machinist apprenticeship, says anyone who has excuses not to employ a female apprentice needs to reevaluate.

A recent survey by the Institute of Automotive Mechanical Engineers (IAME) of 500 workshops found no separate toilets for females and the risk that a woman might quit if she got married and had babies among the reasons cited by business owners for not hiring a female apprentice.

Miss Boys thinks that is a load of rubbish. 

"I'm so glad I left school to do it," she said. 

"They treat me just like everybody else but you do have to have a bit of a sense of humour.

"It's a bit intense sometimes, the conversations," she joked.

Miss Boys left school in Year 11 to become the first female apprentice Electrolux had employed in Orange, and while she admitted she pushed herself harder because she was a girl, she could not see any reason why more females could not jump into roles traditionally set aside for "blokes".

"I've never been just another bloke on the floor, but I wasn't a girl either, It was never really an issue," she said.

She suspected her employers were at first nervous to put on a female, but she proved any sceptics wrong.

"My boss said to me one day 'I'm so glad we picked you for the job'," she said.

Miss Boys hoped the example set by her and others would mean one day female tradies will be as common as female shop assistants, female librarians or a female seamstresses. 

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics there were 417 female technician and trades workers in Orange in 2011, making up 17 per cent of the entire trades and technician workforce in the local government area. 

There were 12 female automotive and engineering trades workers out of 732, four out of 331 in construction, five out of 297 in telecommunications and electro technology and 72 females out of 485 in mining. 

As the only girl enrolled in her TAFE classes Miss Boys said she initially felt she had to do better than her male counterparts, but would encourage any female who was thinking of signing up to a trade to jump in head first. 

The Orange Electrolux factory is winding down in 2016, but Miss Boys vowed to stay right to the end. 

"They've been so good to me and I want to see it out."

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