Here at Trade Skills 4U, we are keen to promote the electrical industry as an inclusive career for everyone from all backgrounds. However, there’s always room for improvement, and it’s still an industry that isn’t gender proportional, with only roughly 1 in every 1,000 electrical contractors a woman.
Overcoming the challenges of working in a male dominated electrical sector
It’s also fair to say that for many years the electrical sector has suffered from a poor reputation with its ‘blokey bloke’ attitude on site from wolf-whistling at any woman that happened to pass by, coupled with the notion that women couldn’t possibly do the physical work of their male counterparts. However, it’s encouraging to know that attitudes are finally changing in the construction industry and more and more women are now entering the sector.
Employers are also now recognising that women can make a real contribution to their workforce and are far more aware of their legal responsibilities regarding equality at work thus ensuring that unacceptable behaviour is no longer tolerated on site.
Lets hear it for the girls!
We are proud to report that since November last year the number of female students training with us has risen from 1.4% to a very respectful 3.7%. We can attribute this to being at the forefront of promoting opportunities for women to enter the trade and also to our involvement in a campaign with electrical wholesalers QVS Direct as part of their Women in Electrical campaign. The campaign aims to encourage more women to train in the electrical industry as well as help those who are already there.
At Trade Skills 4U not only do we encourage female students to train with us, we also currently employ 3 female tutors who deliver courses to both new entrants and experienced electricians at our centres nationwide.
Women in Electrical campaign
One of our electrical tutors, Liliane Branca, was interviewed as part of the campaign, showing that there are many different roles available within the electrical industry if you don’t like the thought of being an electrician in the traditional sense.
Speaking about her own role in the industry training new recruits, Liliane said: “I felt like I needed a complete career change. I was working in social services but I wanted a job with less emotional involvement. It was a huge gamble but it really paid off. I got a job on a site and then went to college twice a week in the evening for three years while working. When recession hit the construction industry hard, I started teaching electrical installation and now I teach full time.”
When asked what advice she would give to other women considering the electrical industry as a career, Liliane replied: “I think it’s essential for women, and men to be honest, to remember that we can do anything. The most important thing to remember is that if you want to do something, don’t let anything get in your way. Just go for it and put everything into it. If you do that, you’ll succeed whether you’re a man or a woman.”
You can read Liliane’s full interview here and if you would like to read some case studies of women who have trained here at Trade Skills 4U, we have interviews with graduate electrical engineers Noemi Willenboeckel and Kelly Vincent of Kelly Electrics.
As well as Liliane’s interview, there are a whole host of other interviews with electricians, business owners, and industry bodies, all giving their advice and thoughts on how the industry can make itself more inclusive.
Two other interviewees from the campaign, Coleen Everitt of Alto Electrical and Natasha Clark-Withers of Get Her Trade, recognise that there is a high demand specifically for female electricians.
Natasha commented: “From the research we have done, there is a massive demand for tradeswomen, and we need to encourage women to join the industry to cope with the demand.”
As to why there is such a need, Coleen said: “I think a big part of it is a safety and trust angle. I’m easy to talk to and people like that. Many people may be more comfortable having a woman in their house rather than a man.’”
What about the physical side of the job?
People come in all shapes and sizes and when thinking of entering the electrical sector some women worry that if they are too small they might struggle with the physical side of things. However, that can actually be an advantage as electricians often need to fit into small and crowded spaces, and a small frame will allow you to get to places that a larger frame would struggle to get to.
You will also find that there is some heavy lifting, although generally only up to fifty pounds or so, which is less than in other trades. But you will find that you'll get fitter with experience and time.
If you’re interested in electrical training of any kind, use our course finder to what courses we have available. Alternatively please call one of our friendly Course Advisers on 0800 856 4448.