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Why we should encourage our daughters to embark on a career in construction

February 26, 2020

Over recent decades, the lines between stereotypical male and female roles have started to blur. As a result, we have seen more women entering roles within construction and trades, empowering the next generation to aspire to roles within these trades.

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

Of our 38,000 vetted tradespeople, only a small percentage are currently female. 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, this International Women’s Day #IWD2020, we explore how women are winning in their chosen trades. We spoke to some of our approved female traders to find out more about how they built their businesses, and the advice they’d give to other women out there who are considering going into a trade.

international womens day

Julie, Plumber at RJ Plumbing and Maintenance

Julie is a female plumber working for her family company, RJ Plumbing and Maintenance, alongside her brother and sister. Julie 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.

international womens day lady 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.”

Bev, Painter/Decorator at Painted Lady

Bev is a female painter and decorator who started her business, Painted Lady in 2006, after spending many years working in the property industry. Bev realised that there was a real shortage of tradeswomen in this field and realised she could do something about it.

What brought you into the painting and decorating trade?

“For many years, I worked in the legal profession assisting in the prosecution of rogue traders. Coming into contact with those in the trade day in and day out, I felt like we needed more women in the industry.”

Do you use the fact you’re a female painter and decorator as a selling point?

“We made a conscious decision to bring “ladies” into the name so people would know we were female. There are lots of people who specifically look for female painter and decorators. Mostly elderly people on their own. I do think that this gives me an advantage over some of my competitors.”

And do you have any tips for women who are thinking about going into the trade themselves?

“Always go the extra mile and do that extra something to impress the customer.”

Amy, Oven Cleaner at Amazing Ovens

Amy has her own independent family-operated oven cleaning business – Amazing Ovens. Over the course of eight years, Amy has built up a great reputation and offers a range of professional oven cleaning services.

Amy Young

We spoke to her to find out more about being a female oven cleaner.

What brought you to the oven cleaning trade?

“It was accidental really. I was looking for a job and someone I knew was an oven cleaner so I gave it a go!”

Do you find people look for female oven cleaners specifically?

“I’d say over 90% of oven cleaners are men. Lots of people look out for female oven cleaners, particularly older women who might not feel safe having a man they don’t know in their home.”

Do you have any tips or advice for women who are thinking of getting into the trade?

“If you’re a practical person and you don’t mind getting your hands dirty, there’s no reason why a woman can’t do this job as well as a man can. You don’t need massive physical strength as you might in other trades.

“Being self-employed is great because you can choose how much you work and when. It’s great if you’ve got young kids to look after or when you want to take certain days off.”

If like Julie, Bev and Amy, you can see yourself building a successful career in a hands-on trade, Checkatrade will be here to support you.

We encourage entrepreneurs from all backgrounds and walks of life, and we hope to see the next generation of trusted traders include more women.

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