Madeline Mercieca (Madi) is a mechanical fitter by trade who has worked in the maintenance operations team at Westmead Hospital for over six years.
Originally working in workers compensation insurance, Madi decided she wanted to explore a change of career after seeing an advertisement for ‘Transport Sydney Trains seeking apprentices’.
“I thought, that looks cool, I want to be a girl holding a really big spanner,” laughed Madi.
Madi spent the next four years fixing electric and diesel trains as the only female apprentice in the program.
“Some of the guys had their nose out of joint because they had been using their tool lockers as clothes locker rooms, and they could no longer walk around in their undies; but mostly I know they loved the fresh air I brought to the ‘stinky’ (laughs) man environment,” said Madi.
Following a stint at Roads and Maritime Services fixing tow trucks, Madi saw a job advertised at Westmead Hospital and was excited by the prospect of working “in a totally different environment” and thought “how cool it would be to work at a hospital”.
In 2016, Madi joined the Westmead Hospital maintenance team, and in doing so, became the first female tradesperson on staff.
If the issue is metal related, Madi is your goto gal.
“My job is basically fixing anything metal; so fixing the sterilisers, keeping the trolleys working, keeping the steam flowing up to the machines, fixing wheelchairs, fixing trolleys around the place; fixing handrails, bollards and anything metal in the hospital that belongs to the building that isn’t medical equipment,” explained Madi.
Although Madi loves the practical component of her job, she says her favourite part of her job is “surprising people when they see me walk up competent to do the job”.
“When I walk in to do a job, the attention will, more often than not, be directed to my assistant, who have always been male,” said Madi.
When my assistant says, “oh no, she’s in charge, actually”, people can initially be taken aback, which I think is good – helping to break down stereotypes.”
Another part of the job Madi likes is the flexibility it allows her as a mother of three.
“I currently work part time because I have a five-year-old and twin one-year-olds,” Madi explained “There’s a good level of understanding that I have a family and so the flexibility it requires is really nice.
“It’s near impossible for a woman to get a part time job in a trade because generally these jobs are designed as full time and mainly for men; so it’s nice to work in a more family-friendly environment.
Although she works in a male-dominated industry, Madi wants everyone to know that she takes great pride in being “quite feminine” and is well respected and liked for who she is..
“When people think of a female welder or a female tradie in general, I think generally people have a certain picture in their head of a woman with quite “masculine” traits, however I’m quite different and I didn’t have to change who I was to fit in,” said Madi.
“I get along really well with everyone, people like me for being me and I’m good at my job because I’m me; and that’s why I really, really love working here at Westmead.”