Challenging stereotypes: celebrating International Women’s Day – Canberra Institute of Technology

5 March 2020

Karen Abel is CIT’s first female Construction Head of Department and one of CIT’s many brilliant women leaders. As a champion for women in construction with over two decades of industry experience, and with the full support of CIT, Karen will no doubt continue to make CIT a great place to receive high-quality training and education.

“I’ve always felt supported and accepted throughout my career, especially from my male colleagues at CIT,” Karen said.

“I started as an apprentice in carpentry in 1998 at a time when female apprentices in trades were distinctly uncommon. I ran my own carpentry business, working on commercial and residential projects as well as leading major federal government projects.”

Director of Trade Skills Fiona Dace-Lynn said Karen demonstrates the opportunities and success that female workers can have, even in male-dominated industries.

“This year CIT has seen an overall increase in women enrolling as apprentices in a range of trades, including construction, carpentry, plumbing and metal fabrication and we hope to see this trend continue,” Fiona said.

CIT supports female trade students in a range of ways and recently developed a partnership with Build Like a Girl, a Canberra-based not-for-profit supporting female apprentices.

“Through this partnership and others, we hope to encourage more women to think about starting a trade at CIT,” Fiona said.

Karen knows the importance of CIT’s role in leadership in industry collaboration and she is a member of both Supporting and Linking Tradeswomen Australia (SALT) the National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC).

“I am very supportive of the work done by SALT, NAWIC, Build like a Girl and similar organisations. I am passionate about the potential for these groups to collaborate to build the capacity of women in our industry,” Karen said.

CIT also encouraged staff to celebrate International Women’s Day with a breakfast organised by the Soroptimist International Club of Canberra, an organisation supporting women and girls around the world.

This year’s speaker is 2020 ACT Woman of the Year Cindy Mitchell who spoke about the importance of understanding history in creating social change. Proceeds from the breakfast will be used to provide scholarships to female CIT students from migrant and refugee backgrounds.

Learn more about how CIT is supporting Women in Trades here.

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