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Build like a girl, says Jo Farrell

On my weekly radio show, called 'the women's room' in 2022 and now relaunching as 'Women's voices, Women's wisdom' in July 2023, I invite a different woman each week to chat about what they are doing for other women in their life and business.

Last year I spoke to a woman called Jo Farrell, who works in the construction industry in Canberra. She told me how difficult it was for her to find an apprenticeship back in the mid 90s. She basically had a series of doors closed in her face. Nobody wanted to know about her or hire her.

“Building isn’t for girls, you won’t be strong enough, blah blah blah”.

Finally, through a family connection, Jo found a guy who was prepared to take her on, but only if she was willing to work for FREE for three months to prove if she was as good as or better than the men. Unbelievable! As a clearly very determined teenager, Jo dug all the pointless holes they told her to dig, and did all the other shitty jobs nobody wanted to do, and proved that she could build to their satisfaction - and even exceed it.

Sadly, I wasn't that shocked by finding this out. Have you ever been told you run like a girl, hit like a girl, throw like a girl? How the hell else are we supposed to do it, I always wondered? And as Jo discovered, building like a girl is a Good Thing. We bring different perspectives and ideas, not being satisfied with doing it 'like a boy'.

Eventually Jo was (begrudgingly) taken on as an apprentice. Now, 20 years later, she's the general manager of a construction company in Canberra. To help raise up other women in the same situation, Jo recently started a non-profit organisation called Build like a Girl.

Jo has an amazing story! If you'd like to listen, find the recording here (scroll down to Episode 6).

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