Women branch out into Council parks and gardens careers
There’s no doubt when the trio walks in to a toolbox meeting they stand out. Dressed in the same shade of distinct high-vis orange as the rest of Council’s Parks and Gardens team, the only thing different about these three labourers is that they’re female.
“It can definitely be a bit awkward when we walk into a toolbox talk and the room is full of men and we are the only three women,” Southern Downs Regional Council Parks Ganger Emily Coy said.
“When I joined Council back in 2011 there was only one other girl in the team and now there’s three, so we’ve certainly come along since then.”
At 29 years old, Coy is SDRC’s only female Parks Ganger and one of three young women working in SDRC’s Parks and Gardens team. Coy leads a team of eight, including labourers Bri Crabtree and Emily McNalty.
Coy said more women than ever before are interested in becoming a parks and gardens labourer, working in an industry which, until now, was a male dominated space.
“We interviewed a few girls in the last round of recruitment and there is definitely lots of interest among females,” Coy said.
“Many of them want to get out of the office and work outside. They have the same mark as we did - they enjoy working outdoors and they are passionate about their gardens at home.
“It’s great to know that there are women out there who want to mix with the boys in industries like these.”
As the only three women in a 13 strong crew, there is no job too hard for the female labourers in the Parks and Gardens team.
“We do everything that the men in our team do,” Coy said.
“There is a big push at the moment to ensure everyone in the team knows how to do everything and has as many skills as possible.
“There is so much variety in our job, every day is different and no two days are the same.”
Having previously worked as a shed builder, Bri Crabtree is no stranger to working in a male dominated field.
After joining SDRC in 2017, Crabtree is now expecting a daughter and said it is important to set an example for young girls.
“It is really important for girls to know they don’t have to stick to the norm,” Bri said.
“There is more opportunity for girls now and they can absolutely do the same jobs that boys do.”
The youngest labourer among the trio, Emily McNalty completed a traineeship in horticulture at Council before joining the Parks and Gardens team full-time in 2017.
“When I first started it was nerve racking and a bit challenging being among all the boys and being part of a male dominated team,” she said.
“Having a few girls to balance it is really good because you can bounce off each other.”
As well as being able to work outdoors, contributing to her community played a big part in attracting Coy to working for Council.
“For me, a big part of what I love about my job is having pride in what we do for our community and the region,” she said.
“You can stand back from something you’ve worked on and you feel really proud and hope that someone else in the community also looks at the work we do and that it makes them as happy.”
While the trio carries out all the same duties as their male workmates, they all agreed men and women bring different strengths to the team.
A typical day for the labourers begins bright and early and will have the three women tending to parks, gardens and open spaces in towns and villages across the Southern Downs, including mowing, brush cutting, watering, maintain hedges and weeding.
“I think we bring more of an eye for detail and take great pride in how we finish things. I love our job and I think we are really lucky to do what we do.”
Parks & Gardens team members Emily McNalty, Emily Coy and Bri Crabtree.