Australia’s first female tunneler hopes to close the gender gap in trades with WIDAC Scholarship

Australia's first female tunneler closing trades gender gap with WIDAC
Tarei Tuti, WIDAC member

28-year-old Tarei Tuti is Australia’s first Female Tunneler Shift Boss, and the newest recipient of the prestigious WIDAC (Women in Design and Construction) National Education Scholarship.

Currently excavating the new Anzac Station as a trainee TBM operator for GroundHog, and previously managing a team on the 9 kilometre NorthConnex Motorway Tunnel in Northern Sydney, Tuti is well known on sites across the state for empowering women to discover their potential in Hi-Vis.

“There is a lack of women (in trades). It’s daunting at first, but once you get in there and show the boys that you’re just as capable as they are, you’ll earn your respect” Tuti says.

Australia's first female tunneler closing trades gender gap with WIDAC
Althea (Left) and Erin (Right), Founding Directors of WIDAC

WIDAC has become an industry frontrunner for females in trade by orchestrating conversation starters for those battling the various hardships females face across the nation when it comes to finding support in a male dominant industry.

What inspired her to go this way?

“Before becoming a WIDAC Member, I used to organise my own get-togethers with the other women on site. There seems to be a lack of overall support in trades for women, and I think a key area for improvement is Education, Support and Training.”

WIDAC brings together women from design, construction and trades related industries who wish to share ideas, network, and provide support for one another in a social setting.

Australia's first female tunneler closing trades gender gap with WIDAC

Members of WIDAC can access their offering of events, workshops and mentoring programs in Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne.

Australia's first female tunneler closing trades gender gap with WIDAC

“Becoming a member of WIDAC has allowed me to further my knowledge and skills to show other females that we CAN do this job” says Tuti on bridging the gender gap in skilled trades roles.

Each year WIDAC grants one winner the opportunity to utilise the FDC sponsored WIDAC Scholarship Program funds towards further study online, on-campus or through private training organisations that will excel them in the design, construction or trades related industries.

“I have used this money to get some tickets under my belt, and it has helped me by being able to operate other machinery I haven’t been able to operate before, further progressing my abilities on-site” says Tuti.

Looking to the future, Tuti shares the same mission as WIDAC in hoping to encourage all females to explore careers in trade; “The WIDAC scholarship has allowed me to further my career, and continue to pave a positive path for women to join this industry”.

The accidental business was born after directors Erin and Althea attending an industry event titled “how to dress for your body shape” aimed at women in construction.

The WIDAC community meet regularly at various events and workshops to share their personal and industry accomplishments for the month, discuss upcoming projects within the local market and authentically network to grow their industry contacts.

WIDAC Memberships can be purchased here.