Celebrating Women in Trades

August is Tradie month. Where we celebrate everything Tradie. We choose to celebrate Women in the Trades.

Did you know COS founder, Rebecca Castano-Mander worked in Construction, recruitment to be exact, encouraging and supporting women in construction is very close to her heart.

To celebrate Tradie month, Rebecca caught up with two amazing Women. Lydia Gentle OAM and Stephanie Douglass.

Lydia was recently awarded the OAM for her contribution to Engineering. Lydia is currently the Engineering Manager at BHP Billiton.

Stephanie was working at Bayside Plasterboard, and wanted to level up. So, she is. Now studying Bachelor of Construction Management and Quantity Surveying. Its a mouthful, we know !

Lydia and Stephanie both said it takes determination and grit to survive in construction as a female. And acceptance from the male tradies can be challenging. When Lydia was asked if a level of toughness is required she said “I wouldn’t say toughness, you need resilience. Things will get you down, there will be hard times and tough decisions to make, but you need to put yourself up and move forward. I aspire to treat everyone fairly and bring grit and grace to all my dealings”. 

Stephanie also let us in on some situations she encountered when working with customers and on site. She said “Absolutely.  Even being in a customer service role, there were many times a customer or client would bypass me and prefer to speak to my boss.  My boss was fantastic and would often ask me for the answer to the customer’s question in their presence.  Having a thick skin is a necessity.”

So, at the end of the day, do these inspiring women actually enjoy the industry? Stephanie said her career started by chance, she had no experience in Construction but took a chance and loved it ever since. Stephanie added “I would say go for it.  The industry is exciting, it’s challenging and constantly evolving.  There is that level of self satisfaction being involved in this industry whether that being the construction of a high rise building or working with someone building their first home.  To see something tangible at the end of your efforts is something to be proud of.”

Lydia is equally as passionate and said “Absolutely, its the best job you’ll ever have”

Lydia also told us about the lack of wardrobe options, “its steel capped boots and high vis” .

And when both women were asked if there has been any day that they would never forget in their career Lydia shared “The day I challenged engineering and construction norms by piling from a submerged barge and pushing a crane to 99.9% of its limit and everything went according to plan!” And Stephanie, well Stephanie is happy she took a leap of faith and had enough confidence to enrol in University.

Its safe to say these two amazing, inspiring and intelligent women are paving a crucial and powerful path for further generations of women to come and conquer. When asked if Women can change construction for the better Lydia said “Definitely! – we already are, being visible and there for each other will inspire more women to work in construction”.


Want to share a kind message with Lydia or Steph…comment below.

Lydia Gentle OAM - Engineering Manager BHP Billiton
Lydia Gentle OAM – Engineering Manager BHP Billiton
Stephanie Douglass – Studying Bachelor of Construction Management and Quantity Surveying