The Rise of the Female Tradeswoman in the UK

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The Rise of the Female Tradeswoman in the UK

The UK has recently seen a significant increase in the number of female tradespeople, a shift that is transforming the traditionally male-dominated world of trade jobs. This article examines this trend, its implications, and the ways it is reshaping the industry.
The Current Landscape
Historically, trade jobs such as construction, plumbing, and carpentry have been dominated by men. This is changing, however, as more and more women are entering these fields. According to recent statistics, there has been a 366% increase in young women undertaking apprenticeships in construction and engineering in the last five years. This is a sign of a substantial shift in the industry, with a surge of female tradespeople reshaping its face.

The Tradeswoman Revolution

The rise of female tradespeople in the UK, often referred to as the 'tradeswoman revolution', has been attributed to various factors. One of them is the decrease in the number of foreign migrants working in the industry.

Another factor is an increased recognition of the reliability, skill, and professionalism that women bring to these roles. A survey by the Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB) found that around a third of respondents would prefer to hire a female tradesperson.
The Economic Impact
The increase in female tradespeople not only promotes gender equality but also brings substantial economic benefits. Research by McKinsey & Company found that companies with diverse workforces were 21% more likely to outperform their less diverse counterparts.
In the context of the trade industry, this could mean increased productivity and economic growth. With a current skills shortage in the UK, the demand for tradespeople (whether male or female) is high. Therefore, encouraging more women to enter the trades is essential to address this gap.
The Benefits of Diversity in the Trades
Diverse teams, including those with a good balance of men and women, have been shown to prioritise safety in the workplace. This is particularly important in the trade industry, where workplace accidents can have serious consequences.
Moreover, a diverse workforce brings a range of perspectives and problem-solving approaches, leading to more innovative solutions and improved customer service. In the trade industry, this can enhance the reputation of businesses and lead to better outcomes for customers.

Female Role Models in the Trades

The surge of female tradespeople also provides role models for younger women considering careers in these fields. Seeing women excel in these traditionally male-dominated areas can challenge stereotypes and inspire more women to pursue careers in trades.
Addressing the Pay Gap
Despite the progress made, there is still a significant pay gap between male and female tradespeople. On average, men earn £7,115 more than women in the same roles. By promoting gender diversity in trades, the industry can take a step towards closing this pay gap and achieving economic equality.

The Future of Female Tradespeople

The future looks bright for women in the trade industry. The increase in female students enrolling in engineering and construction courses, the growing demand for skilled tradespeople, and the changing perceptions of the role of women in trades all suggest that the trend of rising female participation in the industry will continue.
Call to Action
The rise of female tradeswomen in the UK is a transformative trend that is reshaping the industry. However, there is still a long way to go. It is crucial that employers, industry bodies, and educational institutions continue to encourage and support women to enter these fields. Achieving gender equality in trade is not only a moral imperative but also a practical necessity for a prosperous and sustainable future for the UK's trade industry.

Frequently asked questions about Female Tradeswomen

What percentage of builders are female in the UK?

In the UK, the percentage of female workers in the construction industry varies depending on the specific roles within the sector. Here's a breakdown of the information gathered:
Women constitute about 14% of the entire construction workforce in the UK. However, a majority of them are engaged in office-related or other non-site roles and only a smaller fraction work on construction sites​1​​.
When considering trade workers, which include roles such as builders and plumbers, women represent 5.7% of this workforce​​.
More specifically, within the building sector, 24,000 females are employed in roles like bricklayers, roofers, and scaffolders, making up five per cent of the total workforce in these trades​​.
These figures indicate a modest representation of women in hands-on construction and trade roles, while a larger percentage are employed in administrative or other non-site roles within the construction industry.
The male-to-female ratio in the construction industry in the UK can be estimated from the available data. As of 2023, there were approximately 1.8 million men and 340,000 women employed in construction in the UK​​.

How many female plumbers are there in the UK?

The number of female plumbers in the UK is estimated to range from approximately 1,000 to 15,000, which represents less than 1% of the total number of plumbers in the country​. The broader plumbing and Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning industry in the UK employs around 165,000 people, with only 2% of this workforce being female​​. 
Moreover, in 2022, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) estimated that the proportion of women in the plumbing sector was around 2.4%​​.
These figures suggest that while there is a presence of women in the plumbing industry, it is lower compared to their male counterparts. The wide range in the estimated number of female plumbers could be due to variances in data collection methods or definitions of plumbing roles across different sources.

How much do female plumbers earn in the UK?

The earnings of female plumbers in the UK can vary widely based on factors such as experience, qualifications, location, and whether they are self-employed or employed by a company. Here's a breakdown of the information gathered from different sources:
  1. A general figure for plumbers, regardless of gender, states that in the UK, plumbers earn an average of £15.85 net per hour, which amounts to about £32,000 gross per year​​.
  2. Another source mentions that the average salary for a plumber in the UK is around £25,074. For those who are newly qualified, the salary is around £15,000, while plumbers with more experience and a specialism in heat and gas can earn in excess of £40,000​​.
  3. A further estimate suggests that the average annual salary for a plumber in the UK is £37,095, with a range from £27,914 to £49,725​​.
These figures provide a range of earnings that female plumbers might expect in the UK, keeping in mind that actual earnings can be influenced by various factors. There isn't specific data available on the earnings of female plumbers as compared to male plumbers, so the figures provided are general estimates for plumbers in the UK.

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