There is an increasing demand for women in construction, in the same way that female-only taxi companies were set up to address the preference by some female passengers for female drivers. At TrustMark we have noticed that some homeowners feel more comfortable having a woman in their property than a man, but it can be tricky to find a female tradesperson in the first place!
There’s also a lot to be gained from a career in the trade industry as trade jobs are typically more stable than many other careers. There’s also a lot of satisfaction to be gained from being self- employed– picking your own hours and annual leave, and having more control over the amount you earn than a contracted 9-5 job. In addition, research published last year reported that whilst only 20% of construction jobs are held by women, 76% of those would recommend it as a career to family and friends. With so many people dissatisfied in their careers, why is a statistic as high as this going unnoticed?
Demand for female tradespeople
There are plenty of eye-catching statistics which should encourage women into trade. 54% of people feel safer in the house with a skilled female tradesperson than male. Plumbing has been one of the key areas of growth for females in the last couple of years. Whilst there is clearly an underrepresentation of women in this sector (approximately 0.4 women for every 10 men), more women are training as plumbers now than ever before, and there is growing support out there for women to train as plumbers. We spoke to two women working in very different trades, and here’s what they had to say:
Emily English, Co-founder of ‘English, Barrett & Gray’, London (Member firm of Dulux Select Decorators)
“I have been a decorator for 29 years. I set up my business English Barrett & Gray with two other female friends, Emma Barrett and Penny Gray. I decorate in the day but also do quotes in the evenings. I was never academic or someone who could cope with being stuck in the same office, day in and day out; that was never for me. I’ve always loved doing a physical job and being in a different area of London every couple of weeks. Nothing is better than turning an old run down house in to something beautiful again. I still get a buzz from that! I was often told that decorating wasn’t for women – it was only men who ever said that – well I wanted to prove them wrong and I did!”
Rebecca Woolley, Managing Director of ‘The Constant Gardener’, Essex (Member firm of the Association of Professional Landscapers)
“I run my own Garden Design, Construction and Maintenance Business. It started as a hobby and grew into a successful business. Being a woman in trade certainly gets commented on from clients and other trades people. Female clients are usually very welcoming and I win a lot of business when dealing directly with the lady of the house. I have continued to grow the business for the past eight years and last year I was listed on the Fortuna 50 Index of the fastest growing female-led small businesses. The best advice I would give to other women thinking of entering into a trade is to go for it. Women are brilliant at detailed work and a lot of trades need this skill. I always employ women when I can for my business due to their fantastic attention to detail.”
What does the future hold?
Stereotypes are always difficult to break, but with schemes like NICEIC’s ‘Jobs for the girls’, there is undoubtedly growing encouragement and supportive networks for women interested in entering skilled trades. In February 2016, Islington council ran a free DIY ‘taster session’ for women to try out plumbing. This was offered as part of a wider initiative to encourage women to learn new skills, save money and potentially pursue a career in the trade industry. We hope to see more of these sorts of schemes emerging across various trades later this year.
At TrustMark we have a number of firms set up and run by women, so if you’re looking for a female tradesperson to carry out work in your home, why not visit wwww.trustmark.org.uk to find a quality, vetted tradesperson in your area working to Government-endorsed standards.
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