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Why we should encourage more women in construction

Over the past few years, we have seen more women entering roles within construction and becoming tradespeople. Despite this, the UK Skills Gap continues to grow. So how do we get more women in construction?

Over recent decades, the lines between stereotypical male and female roles have started to blur. But there still aren’t enough women in construction.

Thanks to campaigns and changing attitudes, there are more women entering roles within construction and trades. This shift will help empower our next generations to roles within these trades.

That said, skilled hands-on trades, including construction, are still male-dominant industries. There is change happening. A steadily growing number of women are building the skills to lead rewarding and lucrative careers within the trade sector.

Why do we need more women in construction?

Of our 48,000 vetted tradespeople, only a small percentage are currently female. And that is reflected in the wider trade community. According to ONS data, as of 2021 women made up just 1% of people working in the construction industry.

We’d love to see this grow. After all, there are so many skilled, talented and incredible women out there who would thrive in this dynamic industry.

So based on their experiences, how do we get more women in construction? After all, the trade community is still very much a man’s world.

Read on to get some inspiration from some of our members…

international womens day lady plumber

Julie, Plumber at RJ Plumbing and Maintenance

Working for her family company, RJ Plumbing and Maintenance, Julie works alongside her brother and sister. She has been a plumber for over 15 years now and has been running her business for over ten years.

We spoke to Julie to find out more about working as a female plumber.

How did you get into the plumbing trade?

“As a child, my mum was always decorating the house, so I saw that she enjoyed doing jobs that might have traditionally been considered ‘male roles’.”

“Then, when I finished college, I went into the building trade. I worked for an insurance repair company, going out and assessing clients’ properties when they made a claim. When I saw the problems that clients were having, such as broken pipes, I wanted to be able to go out and fix them, rather than sitting behind a computer. I wanted to be more hands-on.”

“Being in the building trade at the time, I was surrounded by men. So, I thought there might be a gap in the market for women in the trade.”

And now you’re running a business with your brother and sister…

“I am. I trained my brother up in plumbing and gas – he’d finished college and didn’t really know what he wanted to do, so he came out and trained with me and really enjoyed it. We teamed up and went from there!”

How do you find people react to a female plumber?

“I actually get a lot of calls through Checkatrade from people who really like the idea of a female plumber, often customers with elderly parents living on their own, or women who are on their own and feel nervous about men visiting their house. It’s not just women though, I also have lots of male customers too.”

Do you have any advice or tips for other women considering getting into the plumbing trade?

“Quite a few of my female friends have been interested in getting into plumbing as a change in career. I’d definitely recommend it and I’m always happy for other women to come out with me and see what I do. There’s definitely a market for it and there’s always plenty of work out there.

“If you’re considering a change in career, I’d highly recommend getting into a trade.”

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Lily, Roofer and Owner of Bear House Build and Roofing Ltd

If you’ve not yet had a chance to read Lily’s case study, why not see how she grew her business from scratch?

Starting out with just her husky for company, Lily built a team and now runs a successful roofing business.

What is your best advice to other trades?

“Whilst it’s always wise to research and revise what you are going into, my best bit of advice would be not to overwhelm yourself or be critical of yourself.”

“You are not alone, and whilst there are multiple pages on the internet about starting a business or how to best run a business, and it may seem a blessing, it’s also a curse. You submerge yourself in all the context and drown.”

“If you’re unsure, it’s ok!!! If it seems daunting… it is for everyone. No one started a business knowing everything right at the start. Don’t beat yourself up because you weren’t aware of something.”

What made you join Checkatrade?

“It was reputation. From people I worked with before, from my own family, there wasn’t really another other option in my mind regarding where I was going.”

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How can we all #InspireInclusion to see more women in construction?

With women being so underrepresented among the trade community. We want to see more women in construction. But there is a lot of work to be done.

The theme of International Women’s Day 2024 is #InspireInclusion. And that is what we want to help support.

But what could you do? What part could you play?

  • Are you a woman?
  • Are you skilled as a tradesperson?
  • Have you done your training?
  • Fancy a new career?
  • Do you own a business?
  • Want to know more about the construction industry?

Whatever your plans are for your career, don’t dismiss a career in construction. It’s a rewarding world, and a growing sisterhood of tradeswomen who are pioneering a way to help tackle the trade skills gap.

Getting more women in construction won’t happen on its own. But this could be the day when you take the next step and try something different!

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Content disclaimer: This content has been created for general information purposes and should not be taken as formal advice. Read our full disclaimer here.

 

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