Emma Kaniuk, on the journey to setting up an online directory connecting people to women and gender diverse people in trades.
It was through having renovations done on her own home in Auckland that Emma Kaniuk realised she’d never had a tradie who was a woman walk in her door. There was a decent stream of men– hammers, floor-sanders and drills at the ready– but no ladies or gender diverse folk.
It was then the idea for Emma’s Tradespeople was seeded. "I’d only ever had hands-on tradesmen, so I was keen to flip that around and make it easy for people to find women and gender diverse people in the industry.” A member of various women-focused Facebook groups, she noticed the regularity of people asking for recommendations for things like women dentists and doctors. “But if anyone said something like, ‘do you know a woman builder or plumber in West Auckland’, it was crickets, no one seemed to know anyone.”
A natural curiosity led her to start researching Aotearoa’s trade industry, (she admits often late at night in her pyjamas before bed), and to discover the absence of a resource that connected New Zealanders with women and gender diverse tradies. “It was pretty nerdy, but I started building a spreadsheet of trade operations owned by women. I realised there was demand for it, because everyone I spoke to was keen to have it as a resource available to them. I became known as ‘the one with the trades list’. That encouraged me to take it to the next step, creating something that could be accessed by everyone in the country.”
It’s a small percentage of tradespeople in Aotearoa who are women – around 10%, with only 3–4% on the tools. Tradespeople’s directory encompasses everything from tradies to help with setting up home compost systems, structural engineering and plumbing, to building and piano tuning. “It’s a super simple resource, you select your location on the site, then the trade type you’re looking for.”
Emma hopes to shine a light particularly on those women and gender diverse people who head companies in the trade industry. She says she’d had a few people new to joining a trade who’ve said the fact the directory exists has helped them rethink their careers in terms of where they see themselves going. “A lot of them by default assumed they’d be employees of a company and hadn’t thought of heading into that sort of leadership level, leading their own company or starting their own. For me that’s where the change is. The more women and gender diverse people we can get in leadership visible, the more people that will feel comfortable and like they have a place in that industry.”
The main popularity of the site has been driven by women, which is only natural, as women are great at supporting women, Emma says, but quite a few dudes have been into it too. “There’s actually a big spectrum of people who have been excited about it. There’s men who have said it’s a place they can go to find someone to hire on behalf of their nanna or mum, and that’s something I hadn’t thought about.” Emma says it’s small and humble beginnings for Tradespeople, but she’s confident it’ll only continue to grow.
Find Emma at tradespeople.co
Find the full story, Trading Together, in Womenclan: Journal One available here.