In a traditionally male-dominated industry, Bianca Pilkington is representing the girls.

The 21-year-old electrician has taken out the Waikato Bay of Plenty regional title in the industrial category of the Master Electricians Apprentice Challenge.

But working alongside the boys does not faze the Tauranga woman.

"I get treated the same as everyone else," she said.


However, even after three years working as an apprentice at Electrical Works Ltd, Pilkington said she still got "double takes" when she turned up to a job.

She remembered times when she had shown up with a junior male apprentice and she was in charge.

"The person at the job would look past me to talk to him," she laughs.

But Pilkington loved being an electrician, even though she never thought she would be.

"I never thought I would be a sparky, I'd sit in science class and think "I don't need to know this'," she said.

Because Pilkington wanted an active and hands-on job, getting into the trade was the perfect fit.

She said her family and friends were supportive of her career choice, especially her dad who was a builder.

"I think he was pretty proud when I told him," she said.


After winning the regional competition, she was now working towards competing in the National Master Electricians Apprentice Challenge, which will be held in Queenstown in October.

Master Electricians' marketing and communications manager Nadine Henderson said 11 apprentices would compete in the three-day final and the judges would be looking for workmanship quality, technical knowledge, Health and Safety and best practice application.

Henderson said the Master Electricians Apprentice Challenge had been running in one form or another for more than 20 years and female participation in the competition continued to grow.

"Last year the national winner of commercial/residential was a young female from Auckland," she said.

Master Electricians Electrical Apprentice of the Year

There are two categories, industrial and commercial/residential.
There are 10 regional preliminary competitions across NZ. There is an industrial and commercial/residential winner for each preliminary event. Once all preliminary events have concluded, the points are calculated at a national level and the top 10 apprentices qualify for the finals – five from each category. This year 11 have qualified due to two apprentices having the same amount of points.
The top 11 will be tested across three days, at the end of which there will be a formal awards dinner at our national conference. Winners will go home with $1000 cash and a free membership to Master Electricians for their employer and a decent prize stack.