The construction industry’s lack of gender diversity has been a well-documented issue for years now, with much work still needed to be done in order to address the imbalance.
According to ONS figures, of the 2.1 million people currently working within the UK construction industry, only 15% are women, the lowest of any other sector.
When looking specifically at plumbing, the ONS estimates that the proportion of women in the sector was around 2.4% in 2022. While this is obviously far lower than it should be, it does mark an increase on the previous year, which sat at 1.9%.
According to the BBC, a government report published back in January looked at the proportion of women working in the heating and cooling businesses. This figure was slightly higher at 5%, though the report did note that “the sector may be slightly less diverse than these numbers imply.”
Interestingly, though, last year GoCompare published research into which trades were the most popular among women in construction and actually found plumbing to be second only to painting and decorating.
Demand for female plumbers has also seen a rise. According to My Local Toolbox, searches for ‘lady plumber near me’ have seen a huge YoY increase in recent years, growing by 450%, while 96% of homeowners also said they would be happy to hire a female tradesperson.
What hurdles stand in the way of women entering the industry?
A notable gender pay gap is still a major issue in the construction industry, With a 23.7% discrepancy between men and women, this is the largest imbalance of any other industry and will undoubtedly deter a lot of women from considering it as a viable career path.
Other barriers could include a lack of females in senior positions and failure to highlight construction as a potential career among younger female generations in schools and colleges. Outdated, male-specific job titles such as ‘tradesman’ can also be damaging, as can archaic stereotypes.
A survey carried out by the construction union Unite (via Payaca) also found that inadequate facilities could be hampering the industry, with one in five sites requiring women to share toilet facilities with men, and 10% of sites not even supplying toilet paper.
At Able Skills, we firmly believe that anyone should be able to build a successful career in the plumbing industry, regardless of gender. We’ve had plenty of women kickstart their plumbing careers with us and if you’re wondering whether the industry could potentially be right for you, we’d love to chat.
You can find more information about all of our plumbing courses here, or if you’d prefer, give us a call on 01322 280 202, or come and visit us in our training centre where one of our team would be happy to help.