“Life as a female plumber forced me to develop thick skin – some laugh in my face when they open the door”

Leah Carney, 30, from Greenwich, didn’t always want to work in the trades industry. In fact, throughout her school years, she said she was told that “the only way to have money and get a good job is to have a degree, and business jobs were the ‘non-academic’ route. When she left school, Leah decided to follow this academic path and went on to earn an honors degree in architecture.

Years later, Leah had a change of heart – she was drawn to the idea of ​​becoming a plumber through a friend who worked as a gas engineer. He talked about her job and her salary and, knowing that she likes to fix things and solve problems, she researched training adult centers to register.

Today, Leah has worked in the trades industry for nearly four years, with a particular focus on plumbing and heating. Although Leah is now happy with her chosen profession, she confessed that there are a number of challenges that come with being a woman in the industry.

Unfortunately, Leah said she had experienced sexism and gender discrimination on several occasions, especially when working for bigger companies. companies. Once at work, Leah explained that a customer opened the door, in disbelief that she was there to fix it. plumbing. Her client laughed at her and said, “My husband has been trying to fix this all week – there’s no way you can do it.”

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Leah wants more women to consider careers in the trades industry

On another occasion, when a customer answered her at the front door, she was greeted with, “You can’t be a plumber, what are you doing here?”. Both times, Leah said she just “grabbed it on the chin.” ‘, but these shocking experiences made her more motivated to show them how good she was so that they change their perceptions.

Working for a large company, Leah said managers would scrutinize her work and judge her abilities more intensely than her colleagues who were men. She claimed that her colleagues even blame her for her mistakes at work.

Leah said MyLondon that in one position, she was the victim of sexist and racist comments from a colleague, but claims that other members of the company told her to ignore it. As a result, Leah claims some co-workers grew distant from her. She said: “It was very upsetting. The situation made me feel completely isolated and the sexism made me feel like I wasn’t good enough. It made me stop believing in myself , which was frustrating.”

Leah talked about her work as a tradeswoman

Leah ended up quitting that specific job and has since built a successful career on her own terms. She said: “It sadly showed me that if you are a woman who stands up for herself, some men will take another man’s side rather than a woman’s side. It was incredibly upsetting and bad for my Mental Healthand getting out of such a toxic situation is one of the best things I’ve ever done.

Despite these challenges, Leah is keen for other women to consider the benefits of working in the industry. She said she focused on self-confidence, more intense study and practice, so that her work and knowledge could speak for itself.

“I think women are just as good at any job and if there was less stigma, more women would consider working in the profession. industry,” she said. “Young men and women often have different jobs and careers communicated to them, and it shouldn’t be that way.”

New platform search find a craftsman People noted found the biggest challenges faced by women working in the trades industry, including all who identify as women, as well as the trades that have the lowest representation of women and the largest gender gaps. pay between the sexes.

The findings, taken from the 2022 edition of Rated People’s Home Improvement Trends Report, found that well over a third of women in trades (39%) are not taken seriously because of their gender. One in seven (15%) have had personal safety issues while working, and almost one in 10 (9%) say they have had customers who won’t let them work when they see them are a woman. .

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However, the same data revealed that only 11% of UK homeowners say they would prefer a tradesman, and almost one in three women (29%) in the UK also say they would feel safer by hiring a tradeswoman to do a home renovation. or maintenance work in their home.

Women make up less than 1% (0.99%) of carpenters and joiners in the UK, and less than 4% of electricians, plumbers, floor layers and tilers are women. Of the 10 occupations with the lowest female representation, none of them has more than 5% women in the workforce.

Leah wants more women to see a career in the trades industry as a viable option. “Look at all the options while you’re at school,” she said MyLondon. “If you’re considering getting into the trades, try to get work experience, even if it’s just for a week. Working in the trades is very rewarding and allows you to learn many skills that will always be in demand. It is therefore an excellent career choice. Go ahead and remember that you are as good as anyone else.

Click on here to learn more about Leah and her journey

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