Kirrily's journey in the electrical industry not only showcases her personal triumphs but also underscores the challenges faced by women, particularly First Nations women, in male-dominated fields. Her story is a powerful narrative of resilience, determination, and breaking through gender barriers in pursuit of her passion despite numerous challenges.
In November 2018, Kirrily embarked on her apprenticeship journey with an electrical company, excited to be part of a small crew of 10 employees, where she was the sole female. The departure of another female colleague, due to bullying, created an environment where Kirrily felt the constant need to prove herself to her male counterparts.
Shortly after starting her apprenticeship, Kirrily was navigating health struggles which began with persistent stomach pains and recurrent tonsillitis. The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 added a layer of complexity to her journey. Two surgeries followed, one to remove her tonsils in July 2020 and another in October to investigate the possibility of endometriosis.
In addition, Kirrily was also facing personal struggles in 2021, her openness about her mental health led to workplace challenges. Word spread about her struggles, resulting in unfounded blame for on-site issues, creating a hostile environment.
In November 2021, despite her efforts to overcome adversity, she was unexpectedly terminated from her apprenticeship. The company cited safety concerns and mistakes attributed to her, but Kirrily believes her dismissal was influenced by her mental health, highlighting the gender dynamics at play.
Facing three months without work, Kirrily persevered, taking odd jobs to support herself. Michael from the Melbourne Apprenticeship Group (MAG) came to her aid, offering a new apprenticeship opportunity. Despite her health issues flaring up again, Kirrily diversified her experience, working across various industries and locations.
Despite initial exam failures, her determination prevailed. Securing a position in the railway industry, she endured intense work weeks but faced another surgery that led to a long-overdue diagnosis of endometriosis. Undeterred, she retook and aced her exams, emerging as the top performer in her class, breaking through gender stereotypes.
Kirrily's journey highlights the hurdles women face in traditionally male-dominated industries. The need for fostering inclusivity, eradicating gender bias, and creating supportive workplaces is paramount. As Kirrily steps into entrepreneurship with Diamond Test N Tag, she not only pursues her passion but also contributes to breaking down gender barriers in the electrical industry.
Her journey is not only one of personal triumph but also a pioneering effort for First Nations Women in Non-Traditional Trades. Her resilience and determination stand as a beacon for aspiring women in male-dominated fields, emphasing that success is achievable through unwavering dedication, self-belief, and the dismantling of gender stereotypes.
For more information about our Apprenticeship Services, call 1300 178 776.