Southern Downs Regional Council Parks (SDRC) Ganger Emily Coy stands out when she walks into a toolbox meeting. Dressed in the same high vis orange as the rest of her team, the only difference between her and her trio is that they are 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,” said Coy.

Coy is SDRC’s only female Parks Ganger and one of three women working in their Parks and Gardens team. Coy leads a team of eight, including labourers Bri Crabtree and Emily McNalty. Coy said it is clear that as of late, more women are interested in the industry which has previously been predominantly male-dominated. Coy said there is a push for each team member to have as many skills as possible and be able to do everything required. “We do everything that the men in our team do,” she said.

Before joining the SDRC in 2017, Bri Crabtree is familiar with working in a male-dominated field, as she previously worked as a shed builder. “It is really important for girls to know they don’t have to stick to the norm,” she said. “There is more opportunity for women now and they can absolutely do the same jobs that men 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. Emily said when she first started, it was challenging being among a male majority in the team. “Having a few girls to balance it is really good because you can bounce off each other,” she said.

While the trio carry out all the same duties as their male workmates, they all agreed men and women bring different strengths to the team. “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,” McNalty said.

“The boys can lift some things that we can’t, so it is good to have them around!” Coy said. “I think us women 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.”

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