In her shoes: Beth Mercieca

she wear - 14th September 2022

Name: Beth Mercieca
Role: Apprentice Carpenter, Blue Eco Homes
Location: Blue Mountains, NSW 🇦🇺
Instagram: @chickenchippybuilds

Brief role description/main responsibilities.

As an apprentice carpenter, my main role is to assist the carpenter tradesperson onsite with whatever tasks are needed, whilst also learning and improving my skills. With the course I am doing it is completely up to me to ensure I am progressing making it a large responsibility while working as I have to ensure I am asking the questions I need to learn, while also ensuring I am up to date with all my assessments. Other responsibilities include filling out certain admin documents to ensure the office knows the work we have completed while also ensuring safety procedures and paperwork have been filled out for each day.

What do you most enjoy about your role? What is the favourite part of your role?

I enjoy so much about my day to day, the outdoor working environment, the team, the problem solving involved in each job and project. A big part of what I love about working with Blue Eco Homes is that we do not build standard houses, our goal is to make sustainable, unique, and healthier homes which is a big part of why the direction we are heading and pushing for is passive housing. I enjoy this because I am a big advocate for the development of sustainable and greener building materials and infrastructure to help improve the fight for environmental awareness. Not only do I like working with these values of greener building, but I also enjoy that each day were doing something different, we work with a range of materials and designs while also doing a large majority of the build ourselves including but not limited to the groundwork, formwork/slab prep, structural steel, roofing/flashings and of course the frames & trusses.

How did you get into your role/industry?

I have been around the construction industry my entire life; from the moment I could walk I could swing a hammer; I spent my school holidays running around with my dad and working with him. I left school at the end of year 10 to pursue a career in hair and makeup. I studied this for 3 years and worked my way into movies and TV series, whilst studying I started working part time onsite for my dad, as well as working a part time job as a restaurant team leader.

Mid to late 2019 I started to find that I was happier and more in love with the idea of working within the construction industry fulltime – after processing the thought, it was full speed ahead. I officially began my carpentry Cert III apprenticeship November 2019, and I have been working and learning the trade ever since. My apprenticeship is an onsite independent course run through CWBTS which allows me to be onsite and, in the action, 5 days a week. Meaning I have the time to learn and improve each & every day.

Have you been involved in something “out of the box”?

I'm a huge believer in recommending a career in the trades so I'm now involved with Schools Industry Partnership, where we talk to high school students of all ages to advocate for a trade career. I'm the chairperson for the HIA Building Women's committee where we are committed to making women in the industry visible and to improve the numbers of women working in the construction industry. I also have a big passion for service work and have since my first service trip in high school. Through these experiences I had the opportunity to fly to Vanuatu on two separate occasions; the first trip we helped install power (through solar panels) to a Small village located in Tana. The second trip was a little more complicated as we built a level 5 cyclone resistant classroom at the local school, which was built in just under 3 weeks. These trips nominated me for Rotary Youth Leadership Award, along with receiving an award in recognition of the work in Vanuatu.

Do you have a favourite saying or quote or mantra you live by?

"I am not worried about intimidating men. The type of man who will be intimidated by me is exactly the type of man I have no interest in”. – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie “I’m tough, ambitious, and I know exactly what I want. If that makes me a bitch, okay.” – Madonna

Tell us a funny story about your role or an amusing experience at work.

Literally as I am writing this, I am wearing a pair of long work pants that have the butt/leg of the pants ripped, so the lesson I learnt today is that just because I can stretch my leg that much to step up onto a ledge; does not mean I have too! So, the amusing part of this would have been the awkward squatted waddle back to my car to see if there is anyway to fix it, thankfully the day soon came to an end!

What advice would you give to women?

Never let fear get in the way of getting to where you want to be. You are strong, back yourself, show everyone that no matter what you can do anything. And remember that it is never too late to do what you want/work in the industry you want, it took me 4 years of studying in a completely different industry and preparing to work in that full time for the rest of my life before I made the decision to start my apprenticeship; if you want it, go get it!

Have you ever encountered any negative experiences that, although difficult at the time, may have helped shape who you are today?

Unfortunately, yes. Working in a male dominated industry can be tough and intimidating. Throughout my time onsite I have come up against sexist, uncomfortable and belittling comments, and no matter how many times you hear these things said they do still upset me at times. Although these comments have taught me not only to block out and not let these comments stop me from doing what I love, but also help me to compose myself in a manner that makes me the bigger person. What these comments do is the exact opposite of what they are usually intended and prove to me just how important it is to bring awareness to women onsite alongside showing the rest of the industry that this is just as much a woman’s game as it is a man’s.

Any feedback or comments about your she wears?

I cannot express my love for these boots enough! The colour, the style and of course the comfort that these boots give make my day to day onsite so much easier.

Thank you so much Beth for sharing your story! It’s so inspiring to hear women changing direction in their careers, and even more inspiring when doing so in a non traditional industry .. and with a passion for sustainability like yours x