Truck mechanic Louise excels in male-dominated industry, and is finalist in Western Sydney awards
Bligh Park’s Louise Azzopardi could arguably have chosen an easier job than being a truck mechanic, a role typically associated with blokes – and it certainly had its share of challenges, as you’ll see – but it is a job she loves and she was going to make sure she excelled.
That determination has seen 25-year-old Louise emerge as one of the finalists in the prestigious Western Sydney Women Awards, with the winners due to be unveiled in just over a week’s time at the major annual event.
“I grew up on a farm in Londonderry where I was always working outside with mum and dad,” Louise told the Post.
“I would help dad complete repairs around the farm and we also rode dirt bikes which we maintained ourselves. I never saw it as “mans work” until I entered the trade, before then it was just the work I loved.”
But entering that trade wasn’t easy for a young woman and her experiences should give all blokes pause for thought in the way some of them behave in the workplace.
“Some hurdles I have seen my fellow tradeswomen face is not being looked at for positions because they’re a woman, so sometimes they have to shorten their name or put a nickname on their resume to get a look in.
“Being told that there are no toilets for them so they are unable to work there, and feeling terribly uncomfortable on site due to sexist comments, whether they be about their bodies, or comments like they should be in the kitchen or having rumours spread around them onsite about who they have “slept with”.
"I have personally had comments said to me about my body and that I should be in the kitchen or at home being a housewife,” Louise said
But Louise worked through those significant challenges and completed her heavy commercial vehicle apprenticeship when she was 19, continuing to work on the tools until she was 22. She then stepped into a trainer and assessor role, to share the knowledge she’s learnt through loving trucks. Now she is making it her mission to make sure all women get to follow their passion and do what they love.
But how do you enter a traditionally blokey job and make it work?
“I have given up trying to convince people that I can do my job and I just do it,” says Louise.
“It can be hard early on in your career when you don’t have the confidence or the years behind you, and you start to doubt your own skill due to someone else’s judgment, but a lot of the people who question you have never seen someone like you do the work and once they see you do it they come around quickly.
“The ones that stay stuck in that frame of mind are generally trying to hide from something they can’t do that you can, are intimidated by you, or just treat all women that way.
“If someone says an outright sexist comment to me that they think is a joke I ask them to explain to me how it is funny. That usually stops the situation in its tracks because there generally is a really dark undertone to the “joke” that they don’t realise until they stop to think about it.”
Louise says everyone brings different strengths to every workplace, no matter their gender, and that everyone should simply learn to work together.
“I think I personally bring a different way of viewing things, getting straight to the point of challenges to solve them rather then avoid them and an ability to see peoples’ strengths and weakness and be able to work together in a well functioning team to get the job done.”
And what would the Awards’ finalist say to a young girl today who might want to get into trucks, or any other area often seen as the preserve of men?
“I would say to her that she should do whatever her heart desires, no matter what anyone says, and to remember why she started.
“Also that just because you love it doesn’t mean it will be easy and just because it’s hard doesn’t mean you don’t love it.
“For me, there have been so many amazing moments in the trade that have out weighed the negative ones by miles – winning the heavy vehicle national WorldSkills competition in 2016 and travelling to Abu Dhabi in 2017 to represent Australia in the international competition, meeting and learning off so many amazing people, and the sound of an engine start up after you have worked on it!”
The Western Sydney Women Awards is the only awards program representing women at all stages in their life, business and career across the Inner West, Greater West, North West & South West of Sydney.
The finals are being held virtually this year on Tuesday November 16.
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