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Catherina Cunnane
Catherina Cunnanehttps://www.thatsfarming.com/
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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Discrimination & gender pay gap: What life is really like as a female in the trades industry

What is it really like working as a tradeswoman? This is one of the many questions that ICM Enterprises UK) LTD got the answers to in its survey of female trades workers to help gain a better understanding of what tradeswomen experience daily.

It collated a survey of 20 tradeswomen, aged between 16 and 60, who shared the revealing truths about working in the trade industry.

Gender pay gap

On average, tradeswomen earn over 38% less than men, according to the UK-based company.

Despite the progression over the years for women in the workplace, there is still a 7.9% overall pay gap between men and women working in the UK.

This gap is “even more significant” in the trades industry, with 42% of surveyed tradeswomen stating that there is a “significant” difference between the pay for men and women.

Many participants were unsure of the pay gap since salary discussions between colleagues are seen as a taboo subject.

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Three of the women surveyed are plumbers and heating engineers, with salaries starting at £22,000, which is over £13,000 less than the average tradesman’s salary of £35,979.

Out of these three women, there was one outlier who earns £35,000 per year after working in the trades industry for over 11 years, which, according to the company spokesperson, showcases a “slight” growth of equality in the trades sector.

Discrimination in the workplace

Over 57% of tradeswomen experienced workplace discrimination, the survey showed.

The spokesperson commented:

“Unfortunately, it is still not uncommon for women to experience discrimination in the workplace when it comes to working in the trades industry.”

“Often times, women feel like they are looked down on and will not be given equal job roles as the male employees.”

A 22-year-old landscaper, during the survey, revealed: “Upon searching for work in other landscaping companies, I was looked down on”.

“I was told that I would have to bear in mind that I would be using the same toilet as the men and that I would start on a lower wage as I would not be doing the main parts of the job; I would just be helping and making drinks.”

Sexist customers

More than 68.4% of tradeswomen were subjected to sexist remarks from customers and clients, they claimed in the survey.

Since men have mostly completed trades, some customers feel like they “cannot trust women to complete the work well”, despite having the same training and qualifications as their male counterparts doing the same work.

A 38-year-old gas engineer, in the survey, outlined: “Customers have asked me to leave as I am female.”

“Some have called back in to have my work ‘checked’, and others have made sexual comments against me.”


Some women can feel ignored on the job, as some customers will direct their questions towards the male employees.

A 38-year-old vehicle body repairer explained: “I work alongside my husband, both doing the same job, and it is not unusual for customers to direct questions at my husband rather than me.”

“Many do not believe that I am just as qualified as my husband,” she concluded.

Part two of this article to follow.

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