Happy International Women’s Day!
The International Women’s Day is a celebration of all WOMEN around the world. With this special occasion, we would like to present to you the story of 3 amazing, hard-working women in skilled trades. We met Carly, Emma and Helena on Instagram and they thoroughly committed to proof: “Yes, we can DO IT”!
How did you start working in trades? How long ago?
Carly Gayle: I started in the industry 15 years ago. I’d been working with my Dad well before that and he got me my apprenticeship.
Emma Arkley: I started in 2010. Wanted to become a plumber as my Nan felt uncomfortable with male engineers, I thought maybe others did too and it would be good to offer a female alternative.
Helena Szmalec: Started with my mom’s friend to see if I liked it, then I enrolled into college because I couldn’t find an apprenticeship. I did a couple of years full: one year of plumbing and gas each, then I had a year out working in retail. Then I finally found an apprenticeship, I did one-year plumbing (level 2) and two years gas (level 3) which I’m to complete in June/ July this year!
What’s the best part of your job?
Emma: The variety and the people you meet.
Helena: I like the fact every day is different, I love the plumbing side and learning the gas side. I love being hands-on, I couldn’t imagine doing anything else!
In your opinion, which is the largest impediment that prevents more women to start working in trades?
Carly: I would say the largest impediment to women in regards a trades job is awareness, confidence and child care.
Emma: I think women are seen as the weaker sex and are not given the same opportunities or salary to do the same job.
Helena: Personally, I think it’s the getting messy part and the fact that it’s a male-dominated industry, which could scare females from entering it. I also think many that do enter might have other family members already in the trade in which they follow from or look up to. For me, it is my father who’s a sparky, and I used to go to work with him and watch.
What is people’s reaction when you mention you work in trades?
Carly: People are usually shocked when they know that I’m a Gas engineer.
Emma: When I turn up to jobs they don’t believe I'm the engineer!
Helena: Normally people are in shock in a good way and always say ‘good on you’, but in reality, it shouldn’t be a ‘shock’. Females can do ‘manly jobs’ too!
How do you mix work with your personal life? Days in working boots and nights in high heels? 😊
Carly: I do mix work with personal life because of all the great tradesmen/ women I know. We are all on the same wavelength. (mostly haha)
Emma: Days in steel toe caps and nights in Knee Highs and dresses!! I definitely need a good social life as job can be very isolating.
Helena: Hat is literally it! I’ve always said I’m a ‘Boy’ Monday - Friday and a ‘Girl’ at the weekends! Although recently from working weekends it’s been a While since my heels came out!
Following your IG profile, I realized you know each other. How did you meet? Are there any special organizations and events in the UK for women in trades?
Carly: Instagram has allowed me to meet fantastic female (and male) engineers such as Emma and Helen. We meet up as much as possible. There’s also a great women’s event that Hattie Hassan of Stopcocks organizes in London every July!
Helena: Yes, I do! So, I met up with Carly at a service station, halfway from our homes, as we don’t live as far from each other as we thought! Then at the tool fair in September, a few of Instagram all met up in the evening and went to the casino, that’s where I finally got to meet Emma. Then we all met up at Christmas (organized by Emma) and went to a rave in London. No, not that I know of! I’m up for attending them if there are some!
Which is your message to the young ladies out there who get ready for a job in trades?
Carly: My message to any young girls wanting to start a trade is go for it ASAP and keep pushing to the top.
Emma: Go for it. No question is a stupid question.
Helena: Just go for it! 👌🏼 don’t hold yourself back and hold your head high. You deserve to be there like any other man!
How do you plan to celebrate the International Women Day? Work and then cocktails? 😊
Carly: I will probably celebrate women’s day by just working and being my bad a*s self 🤣
Emma: It’s Sunday, so I’ll be at my niece’s 5th birthday party! 😬😂
Helena: Oh, I wish I could do that! It lands on a Sunday this year doesn’t it? And I’m out helping the other half on a job! Then probably a nice chilled evening! 😊
Follow Carly, Emma and Helena on Instagram to get more insights from their daily jobs: Carly - @the_blonde_plumber, Helena - @pink_plumbing_hjs, Emma - @plumbhers.