“I chose a career in carpentry because I love what I do,” says Iaotite Monite, a carpentry trainer at the Kiribati Institute of Technology (KIT) and an alumna of the Australia Pacific Training Coalition (APTC).
Iaotite graduated from APTC in 2010 with a Certificate III in Carpentry (CPC30211), after which she applied for a position as a carpentry trainer at KIT. On her application being successful, she became the first woman ever to teach carpentry in Kiribati.
When it comes to skills training, Iaotite’s biggest priority is continuing to develop her skills in order to maintain their currency. For this reason, she has now joined APTC to undertake a Certificate III in Wall and Floor Tiling (CPC31311) under the supervision of APTC trainer, Raj Kapoor. Iaotite has successfully completed three units from the Certificate III Wall and Floor Tiling qualification.
With the additional skills and knowledge learnt on wall and floor tiling, she has embedded this in her carpentry training delivery at KIT.
Being the only woman trainer in her field at KIT, Iaotite maintains a great enthusiasm for her work, saying, “I am enthusiastic to go far in the tiling profession, despite it being a male-dominated trade.”
Her interest in the carpentry and tiling is linked with her interest in serving people.
“I love this trade because in a way I am helping build a shelter for someone,” she said.
The challenge of being a female in a male-dominated workplace can be stressful at times, but Iaotite does not let this hold her back.
“It is challenging but that doesn’t stop me. Instead, it gives me courage and perseverance to work harder without boundaries. Sometimes men become competitive and are not willing to share and assist when you need them to.”
Iaotite remains persistent when it comes to chasing her dreams. Her approach is to seek out every opportunity to collaborate with her male colleagues. With her current studies underway at APTC, she looks forward to educating herself with new techniques, adopting new skills and knowledge, and building confidence.
“I am still learning and aiming to improve as I develop multiple skills and I hope that women and men learn that a woman is just as capable as any man,” she said.
When she decided to become a carpentry trainer, Iaotite faced criticism from family and friends.
“When I first started my carpentry training, no one believed in me – not even my parents. They said, ‘How can a woman do a man’s job?’ However, I never gave up, as my dream was to become a carpenter. I continued regardless of the mockery I faced,” she recalled.
According to Iaotite, studying at APTC has given her the opportunity to fully understand the importance of Occupational Health and Safety (OHS), proper planning and time management in her work.
“Now I’m able to do proper planning before commencing my work and implementing it with my staff. I can see changes in my skills and knowledge after completing my course with APTC,” she said.
“I acknowledge the great input by APTC trainer Raj Kapoor, for giving my team members and I skills and knowledge about tiling.”
“I have learnt lots from Raj and it has made me more confident despite it being a profession commonly known in Kiribati and other Pacific Islands as a ‘man’s job’.”
To all women and girls, Iaotite’s advice is that, “We can do all things successfully if we truly believe in ourselves, regardless of our gender differences.”