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February 8, 2023

International Women’s Day: Rachael Zarah

Hello! My name is Rachael, I am 22 and I am following my childhood dream of working in horticulture. Growing up on a farm with three out of my five family members being in a trade I aspired to be like them however they’re all males and I predicted I wouldn’t be given a chance. Despite my gender, Deakin gave me a chance and I am now in my third and final year of my apprenticeship. An apprenticeship and opportunity which has changed my life.

Preferred pronouns: She/Her

Tell us about what International Women’s Day means to you? 

International Women’s Day to me means a day of celebration and recognition of all the women in our lives. The small ones and the large ones and the impacts they’ve made in between which allow women to be held as equals.  

In your time at Deakin, what has been your proudest achievement? 

My proudest achievement whilst being a part of Deakin is being nominated for an apprentice training award, in the category, Inspiration Award: Women In Trades. I may have been unsuccessful in winning the award but to be a finalist truly was by far the proudest I have ever felt. I would have never thought that in doing what I love (horticulture) I could make such a strong impression on others. I can only aspire to be the role model for others as I longed for when growing up, however, without the strong individual women in my life such as my mother I would have never dreamt of such things. I now lead a life of purpose in my dream job, hopefully creating a lasting impact on our environment.  

We know discrimination still exists, what are some of the barriers you think that women are facing today that need more attention?  

Discrimination is still an occurrence for women daily. I applied for four jobs before Deakin hired me, not one of those four applications gave me a second look. I assume but also believe that this was due to my gender. Whilst completing my trade I have come across many external comments regarding my gender in accordance with my job. However, there was one comment that really struck a chord with me. An older man made the remark as I lifted a wheelbarrow into a Ute. He pronounced, ‘Your father must be so proud,’ and asked, ‘what trade does your father do?’ Whilst its true my father is beyond proud, and he is a boilermaker by trade, I felt sadden to think that only women whose fathers were in trades could also do a trade. No matter your gender, you are entitled to do what makes you happy. Whether that be a job as a gardener, vet nurse, childcare educator, or chef. Gender holds no roles and should not define how successful you are. Barriers should be broken so that girls with no father or father that don’t work in a trade can also aspire to do a trade like me.  

How do you feel Deakin supports women? 

Deakin recognises its employees as individuals rather than letting their gender depict their capabilities. The grounds team exemplify this perfectly. Both women and men are treated equally and given ample opportunities to lead and thrive. Being a young female in a male dominated trade, my collages support me in more ways than I can express. Even in the smallest ways my colleagues continue to make me feel equal and valued. It might sound silly but a recent example was a handshake. All I could ever desire for is to be respected for my craft, despite my gender. To receive a handshake, a symbol of respect often shared by men, has been an embodiment of equality and has formed one of my most significant impressions of the equality shown in my time at Deakin.

What are some of the ways someone can help drive a gender equal future?  

The way I believe to drive a gender equal future is to start with our most impressionable and the future leaders of this country, the children. By teaching and encouraging our children to hold nonbiased opinions we can change the way the world evolves. A great way to start would be to encourage more schools to hire female led companies, for construction and beyond. Children can see for themselves just how capable, if not more capable women can be. Instead of hiring a ‘HandyMAN’, employ a woman to do maintenance at a school, therefore children’s stereotypes can be broken, and young girls have role models to strive for. Rather than Bob the builder, allow children to see Chloe the carpenter. As you can’t be what you can’t see! 

Explore our other International Women’s Day profiles here

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