Brooke MacGregor Managing Director Genergy and Tammy Stanton Director Platinum Electricians Morningside are on a mission to increase the representation of women in the Electrotechnology Industry. As well as each running their own successful electrotechnology businesses, they are founding members of Women in Power, and lead fun electrical sessions in Kindergartens to challenge gender stereotypes around women in trades.
Brooke was awarded in 2015 as Women in Contracting National Excellence Award Winner and 2015 Women in Contracting South East Queensland Excellence Award Winner by Master Electricians, and received the 2016 NAWIC Award for Achievement as a Business Woman.
Tammy commenced her career in Information Technology, and for 6 years worked both in Corporate IT roles and in her role as Co-Director of Platinum Electricians Morningside. She has held the role of Treasurer of Master Electricians Australia for 9 years. Tammy was awarded Construction Female of the Year 2015 by Construction Skills Queensland.
In Australia, the Electrotechnology Industry has one of the lowest rates of female participation, and you both encourage more women to join. What are the opportunities and rewards for women who join the industry?
This is a hard question because with any career path you choose there are many opportunities and getting a trade under your belt is no different. Being a business owner and self-employed, like we are, is just one of the many rewarding career options available. Getting an apprenticeship is a pathway that can lead to further tertiary qualifications and also management roles. There are so many different specialisations within the trade itself that it provides flexibility and ongoing learning within your career.
Tell us about the fun electrical info sessions you run in Kindergartens wearing electrical work uniforms to break the stereotype that electricians are male only and to challenge the gender expectations that surround children.
Women in Power’s mission was to encourage visibility of women with trade backgrounds as we believe this is the key to encouraging more women in to the industry. It comes back to the old adage. You can’t be what you can’t see.
There are already many organisations that go into schools and career counsellors that try to encourage young women to get into the trades, we felt that we might be reinventing the wheel somewhat if we followed that course. Instead we wanted to get to the source of when stereotypes are determined and start challenging those stereo types in the early years, as young children are simply not exposed to the idea that women can work in the Electrotechnology industry.
Children form beliefs around gender roles at such a young age. It is crucial that boys and girls see females participating in the industry. That is why we have rolled out our Electrical Kindy Program. Our Kindy Sessions aim to break through the stereotypes that are already forming, and to challenge the gender expectations that surround them.
We do this by wearing full high-vis uniforms and PPE and get the children to dress up in high-vis vests and hard hats and we break them into pairs to build simple electrical circuits that activate flying propellers, while also teaching them about electrical safety. The children have a ball and we believe we are influencing them in a positive gentle way. And seriously how refreshing is it to work with children, these little balls of pure potential.
When asked if they want to be an electrician when they grow up, there are a lot of hands in the air.
What lead you to start your own business?
We both probably fell into our businesses with family members already pursuing this avenue but the reason we both keep doing it is because we love the industry and for the flexibility it provides our own families. We have control over the direction of our companies and making tough decisions as well as being able to go to a swimming carnival or mother’s day event without feeling guilty of letting down the boss.
The businesses give us the flexibility to put our family first and this is something dear to both our hearts. Having a small business also makes us feel we are building something bigger than ourselves. Our businesses provide jobs, solve problems, pay tax, and support charities.
What has been your greatest challenge?
For Tammy, within her businesses, creating great relationships would be the greatest challenge. That is relationships with customers, staff, suppliers and peers. All these relationships need to be nurtured and developed and being able to effectively create relationships is the key to a successful business. Without your team and support network your business does not thrive.
For Brooke, her greatest challenge would be combining a young family with running a demanding business. Brooke managed to make the first 9 months (whereby she was the primary carer) work by bringing the boys into the office (they slept under her desk) and by also working from home when required. Her breastfeeding sessions were called ‘meetings’ and clients on the phone were none the wiser. As the boys have gotten older they have attended Team and Safety Meetings and inspected jobs on work sites. It takes a good support network and flexibility at work but a career and motherhood can co-exist.
What are you most proud of?
For Tammy, it’s a tough question. So proud of many things. Personally I would say I’m proud of my persistence to keep going when things are really tough. We have achieved a lot in my business and personal life and won awards and the like but it’s my ability to keep going and struggle through the tough times that I would have to say I am most proud of.
For Brooke, her proudest achievement is creating a great team and culture in her business and creating long-term relationships with customers. Being a good mother is also something she chases every day.
What’s one piece of advice for future female leaders?
Have the courage to challenge the norm and seek as much advice as you can. There are so many people like the four of us in Women in Power that are here to help and listen.
There are so many accomplished, capable talented women making a mark in the world that we have a fighting chance for gender diversity. But it is imperative that we all do our bit to champion women in the workforce and push for their inclusion. At the end of the day, if we don’t do it, who will? We all have so much potential to influence the female agenda every day whether it is at work, or at home. Never doubt your power.
You are the female economy. Whether you are a female consumer, business owner or a woman in the workforce, you can create gender equality by choosing female led brands.