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HomeFarming NewsWhy are there fewer women in the trades industry?
Catherina Cunnane
Catherina Cunnane
Catherina Cunnane hails from a sixth-generation drystock and specialised pedigree suckler enterprise in Co. Mayo. She currently holds the positions of editor and general manager at That's Farming, having joined the firm during its start-up phase in 2015.
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Why are there fewer women in the trades industry?

Limited education, physical ability, unsuitable equipment and a lack of support are among the reasons why there are fewer women in the trades industry, a new survey suggests.

Only around 13% of the trades industry workers are women, according to ICM Enterprises UK LTD, who spearheaded the survey, which we published a raft of findings from in this news article on That’s Farming.

The survey aimed to help gain a better understanding of what tradeswomen experience daily.

Limited Education

Some women feel like there “has not been much progression in the way jobs are advertised”.

Despite more trades employers actively reaching out the women for their open jobs, some jobs are still primarily targeted towards men, they claimed. The same goes when it comes to learning about jobs in school.

However, schools are now more openly encouraging people to take on any job role, regardless of the previous stereotypes.

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There has been a huge change in the way children are being taught about work, the survey outlined.

Survey participant, Abigail, a 32-year-old bench joiner, commented: “Schools, historically, have promoted the learning of manual trades to boys.”

“Girls tend to have been pushed into gender-stereotyped roles such as cooking and textiles.” –

Physical Ability

Women are often just as capable as men at completing heavy labour work, the survey report reads.

However, many people still do not see this and believe that labour-intensive work should be “left to the men”.

Another survey participant, Sophie, a 30-year-old drainage engineer, added:

“Women have always been looked at as ‘the weaker sex’, and being on a site or turning up to a job a man ‘should’ be doing is difficult when you are judged with comments like, surely you should be on reception etc.”

Unsuitable Equipment

Since the trades industry has always been dominated by men, the equipment is often tailored to suit men, some claim.

However, with the increase in female tradespeople, we are seeing more and more manufacturers creating a whole new range of equipment to help women in trades.

However, there is still an issue with this, as it is often much more difficult to source equipment that is tailored to women in this field, survey participants told the firm.

Karoline, a 38-year-old plasterer, revealed: “More equipment/tools suitable for women would make life easier.”

“I am 5ft 1 and can never find protective boots etc. I would prefer it if plaster came in 20kg bags instead of 25kg.”

“Things like that make trades discouraging,” she explained.

Lack of Support

Many women feel like employers should be more open to supporting them in their job roles.

This, they explained, would help to make women “feel less” discriminated against for their gender but will also result in a “much more harmonious” workplace.

Debbie, a 36-year-old conservation specialist, explained:

“I have had three women start with me. None of them drive, but they all need to be back for 3 pm to get their kids from school and cannot start until 8.45.”

“I think, generally, the way that the construction industry is arranged means that it is almost impossible for anyone who is not an unencumbered, able-bodied male to be in the right set of circumstances to get a chance,” she concluded.

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