Have you ever been told you’re not good enough to do a job? Or have you ever felt you’ve been treated differently because of your gender at work? That’s something Mylestones Service Manager Charmaine experienced when she landed her dream job in a male-dominated industry.
We sat down with Charmaine to hear her story as she shares some advice for other women with disability this International Women’s Day.
When Mylestones Service Manager Charmaine answered a job ad for a gardener more than three decades ago she would have never imagined she go on to forge a successful career in the male dominated industry.
"I stepped into the garden industry over 30 years ago after completing my Disabled Australian Apprentice Wage Support (DAAWS) program. I successfully secured an apprenticeship in horticulture at the local hospital, and it didn’t take me long to realise there were not a lot of female gardeners,” said Charmaine.
“During this time, there were lots of men telling me that I was taking a man’s job, and I should be at home taking care of my husband. I had to develop a thick skin.”
This treatment ranged from the male tradespeople not including her in lunch, through to her male manager giving her an unjustified hard time. But that didn’t deter her. She was determined to succeed at the job she was loving so much.
“I worked hard, proving I could do the job just like anyone else regardless of my gender,” she said.
This hard work and perseverance paid off. At the end of her apprenticeship, the Department of Education asked Charmaine to visit schools to talk to female students about occupations that, at the time, appeared to be male dominated.
During this time, Charmaine won the Apprentice of the Year and the Outstanding Effort and Achievement by an Apprentice award at the state finals, and was acknowledged for her work and the ability to inspire female students to seek new career pathways. For Charmaine, this recognition of determination and efforts to create real change was an incredible feeling.
When Charmaine applied for the role of Service Manager at Mylestones Solutions, her commitment to creating a gender equitable workplace, and her first-hand experience of finding work as a person with a disability, did not go unnoticed.
“I had been working in the disability industry for nearly 20 years in a variety of roles, after finishing my apprenticeship, so when I saw the Service Manager position, I really felt it had been written just for me. I knew there was so much I could bring to the role.”
Charmaine now supports 110 supported employees and manages 22 staff throughout Queensland.
“I believe we are making a difference in people’s lives. You only have to visit a site and see the smiles on their faces and hear the importance of them having a job,” said Charmaine.
Find out more about the Mylestones Garden Crew
Our Garden Crew specialises in commercial garden maintenance and landscaping, as well as handyman services and minor property maintenance.