Snapshot of women in trades

Explore the demographic and employment differences between men and women in trades

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To get a better idea of the characteristics of women already in the trade workforce, we compare these characteristics with men in the same workforce. Our analysis uses census data as this gives the most accurate like-for-like comparison between male and female tradespeople. We generally find differences are small, but can be common across sectors.

Age distribution

Across sectors, women in the trades tend to be slightly older than men, with relatively fewer workers in their twenties and thirties and more in their forties. The sectors that buck this trend are Painting and Decorating, Mechanical Engineering and Electrotechnology, where the female workforce is slightly younger. For Painting and Decorating this may reflect the increased proportion of women among recently trained workers.


The chart below compares the ethnicities of men and women in the trades. In a number of sectors, particularly Electrotechnology, Engineering and Manufacturing, women in the trades are more ethnically diverse than men. The distribution of ethnicities varies between different sectors. For example, Forestry has a particularly high proportion of Māori at over 30%.


Women in the trades tend to be self-employed at slightly lower rates than men, though this varies from sector to sector.


Women in trades tend to be slightly older and more ethnically diverse than their male counterparts. The relative lack of younger women in the trades workforce may be due to the difficulty in attracting young women to the trades. 

We also find that women are self-employed at rates slightly lower than men. We should keep these facts in mind as we investigate the experiences of women in trades.

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