SBS language | International student breaks social norms and gender barriers to build career brick by brick

24-year-old Mandeep Kaur took on many challenges from a young age and persevered to become a skilled mason.

One of them convinced not only others but also herself that she could shatter the gender stereotype that women were unsuitable for the male-dominated construction industry.

Strong points:

  • Mandeep Kaur is a Melbourne based bricklayer, wanted to be an IT professional
  • She immigrated to Australia from India as an international student in 2018
  • Mrs. Kaur wants to see more women i

“I often heard it said that this was not a ‘female-type career’. Or that it is physically very demanding and that I am not strong enough to be in the trades. Such comments made me doubt my abilities, ”Ms. Kaur told SBS Punjabi.

“It has never been easy for a woman to pursue a career in a profession dominated by men. But I’m here to prove the odds because it gives me immense satisfaction to do what people say I can’t, ”she added.

Mandeep Kaur opted for a career in masonry after struggling to find a job during the pandemic.

Provided by Melbourne Polytechnic

From bit and byte construction to building construction

Ms Kaur arrived in Australia as an international student from Punjab in 2018.

She holds a Bachelor of Computer Science degree from India and had opted for an advanced course in the same field in Melbourne.

“I never thought my career would take such a big turn. After the COVID-19 hit, there weren’t a lot of opportunities to find jobs in companies, ”she said.

Given her predicament and financial insecurity, Ms. Kaur decided to pursue a new career path, totally unrelated to her initial goals – a great transition from IT to masonry.

Mr Kaur said his friend’s husband, also a mason, had encouraged her to take a masonry course.

“I’ve learned that tradespeople are rarely unemployed. So, with the contribution of my friend, I decided to seize this stimulating opportunity, ”she adds.

Ms Kaur eventually enrolled in Melbourne Polytechnic Certificate III in Masonry and Masonry in mid-2020.

To her amazement, she was the only student in the course.

Ms. Kaur says that encouragement from her teachers, instructors and classmates has helped her realize that “it’s just another job” that women can do as well.

“It was the support from my TAFE teachers and family that pushed me to keep trying and strengthened my belief that as a woman I can do it,” she said. .

Leading forward

Michael Morrissey, CEO of the Australian Brick and Blocklaying Training Foundation Ltd (ABBTF) said that for women in the trades it can be incredibly difficult to overcome prejudices in the industry.

“It is part of our mission to help women entering the profession find employment and be offered the same opportunities as their male counterparts,” said Mr. Morrissey.

“Mandeep is helping to prepare for a future of more female representation in masonry. She is an exceptional example for other women who wish to pursue a career in the trades, ”he added.

Mandeep Kaur has had to change his career path from IT to Trades due to COVID-19.

Mandeep Kaur has had to change his career path from IT to Trades due to COVID-19.

Provided by Melbourne Polytechnic

Lucky to be in Australia

Ms Kaur said she couldn’t pursue her goal of becoming an IT professional, but felt lucky to have enough opportunities in Australia.

“It was definitely a different experience, but there was nothing awkward about it. It is the beauty of this country that people appreciate for you and your work.

“I also saw that it doesn’t matter whether you are in a white collar position or doing physical labor, you are given the same respect,” she added.

More power for women in commerce

After cementing her future as a certified bricklayer, Ms. Kaur now wants to encourage more women to take up a trade.

“There has been a shift in mindset when it comes to gender roles that anything a man can do, a woman can do too,” she said.

“This is only possible if you overcome your own mental barriers, go beyond social norms and commit to doing the physical work related to the trade,” Ms. Kaur added.

Click on this audio button to listen to the full interview with Ms. Kaur in Punjabi.

International student breaks social norms and gender barriers to build career brick by brick


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About Marjorie C. Hudson

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