Our Founder

Hacia Atherton, Founder, Empowered
Women in Trades (EWIT)

“You can change the world with just an idea,
as long as you have the courage to take action.”

– Hacia atherton

Hacia Atherton, CPA, is on a mission to empower women in trades and see more women in the workforce with meaningful economic opportunities and skills.

She envisions a future where women are inspired to take up apprenticeships in skilled trades such as welding, plumbing, electrical, automotive and many more pathways that women have never felt were an option. She values that these women feel safe at work and return home feeling fulfilled from the work they have done.

Family connection to trades

Hacia comes from a family of change makers with the Atherton family having a long history with skilled trades in Australia that dates back to before federation.

As a legacy for the plumbing trade in Australia, her Great Great Grandfather Fred Atherton was a part of establishing the Master Plumbers Association in 1891. Hacia’s legacy also includes her Great, Great, Great, Grandfather Sir Henry Pakes, who was instrumental in uniting the colonies to form the Australian Federal government and is known as the ‘Father of Federation.’

Hacia has a passionate connection with skilled trades through her heritage and work in her family company which is a world leader in the manufacturing of sterilisation equipment and infection control products for the hospital, medical and scientific industries. Although she formally trained as an Accountant, Hacia has had the privilege of what it means to work on a factory floor and learn skills in manufacturing. Her work at the Atherton family’s company, has allowed her to see the negative effects of Australian’s skill shortages within trades such as welding and tool makers.

Hacia Atherton

Overcoming adversity

In 2017, Hacia was in a horrific horse riding accident. During a routine Dressage training session, the horse reared up vertically throwing her from its back and then all 600 kg landing ontop of her.

She was airlifted to the Alfred Hospital by helicopter and woke from a nine-hour surgery in excruciating pain to doctors informing her she may never walk again in any meaningful way.

Perspective from her hospital bed meant that Hacia began to see how limited women were in learning occupations and how disempowering it can be to have options taken away.

“As I lay in my hospital bed, I realised how my once active lifestyle was now replaced with one where I could barely move. As the weeks passed, I began to find the courage to try to move, but the limitations of my physical pain and broken body meant that I felt my old life was certainly gone forever.

I realised I didn’t want to sit in a wheelchair forever and that finding the courage to take my first steps would be a gradual process that was uncertain and difficult.”

– Hacia atherton

In her hospital bed Hacia had a lot of time to think and started to comprehend the effects of the lack of women on the factory floors, in automotive workshops and construction sites across Australia.

She knew how devastating it felt losing her ability to walk and connected this emotion to women feeling like there were no opportunities for them within lucrative careers in skilled trades.

Hacia in her hospital bed

Why Empowered Women In Trades

Then she met a female welder, only to hear about how hard it had been for her to pursue her passion for welding. She knew she needed to do what she could to empower more women to walk through and get a career in the trades without feeling like the society was holding them back.

She established Empowered Women In Trades (EWIT) to inspire women to see trades as a viable career option and to support industry and society to shift their culture to create a supportive environment for these women to thrive.