More women tradies please: new TAFE approach set to shake up gender equality

Our Watch

Challenging expectations that only men should be tradies and women should be childcare educators, and increasing women’s roles and representations in leadership, are some of the actions Victorian TAFEs are being asked to consider as a part of new set of resources aimed to help prevent violence against women launched today.

Our Watch, with the support of the Victorian Department of Education and Training, has released Respect and Equality in TAFE, a whole-of-institution approach to tackling gender inequality and discrimination.

It was launched by Minister for Training and Skills Gayle Tierney, Our Watch CEO Patty Kinnersly and Melbourne Polytechnic CEO Frances Coppolillo online.

Respect and Equality in TAFE includes a guide with supporting tools and resources based on evidence to help TAFEs embed and promote gender equality and respect within their organisations, programs, curriculum and services.

This approach was developed through a pilot that engaged five Victorian TAFEs – SuniTAFE in Mildura, Bendigo Kangan Institute, Melbourne Polytechnic, Swinburne University of Technology and Chisholm Institute – with positive feedback from staff and practitioners.

Minister for Training and Skills Gayle Tierney said “This initiative will have a huge ripple effect beyond our TAFE communities – sending a loud message that violence against women and families has no place in Victoria.”

Minister for Women and Prevention of Family Violence Gabrielle Williams said the approach was about safety and respect.

“Everyone should feel safe while they study – which is why I’m so proud that Victoria has developed this nation-leading guide to respect and equality,” Ms Williams said.

Guided by this approach, as well as other prevention initiatives, four TAFEs had positive outcomes, such as a student-run podcast challenging gender stereotypes, a partnership focused to boost women in trades and a VCAL program that incorporated themes and activities on power, justice and equity within the students’ studies.

Our Watch CEO Patty Kinnersly said that the Respect and Equality in TAFE approach was a game-changer for TAFEs that wanted to use their influence as workplaces, educational institutions and community spaces to prevent violence against women.

“The research is clear that gender inequality sets the underlying context for violence against women,”Ms Kinnersly said.

“With 85 per cent of traineeships and apprenticeships being delivered to men, there is a huge opportunity to challenge the stereotypes that only men should learn a trade, or that women are better suited in studying caring roles like nursing or childcare.

“It also means making structural changes, such as increasing women in leadership and decision-making roles and encouraging more women to undertake apprenticeships and go into higher paid trades roles, which can promote women’s financial independence.

“These resources provide more opportunities for TAFEs to take strides towards equality and play their part in creating a society where everyone, regardless of gender, sexuality, ability or cultural background, can live free from violence.”

Melbourne Polytechnic CEO Frances Coppolillo said that the approach provided TAFEs with the crucial foundations needed for preventing violence.

“Respect and Equality in TAFE promotes a whole-of-institution methodology to ensure it impacts widely across workforce, students, teaching and learning, communications, and industry and community.

“It provides a platform for change across every area of our operations. It also enables TAFEs to tackle gender inequality and gendered violence at individual and organisational levels, and to influence change at systemic and societal levels.”

The Respect and Equality in TAFE approach is now available at respectandequalityintafe.org.au

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