In line with International Womens’ Day, whose focus is on parity this year, and with females only making up 13% of trade apprentices and trainees in NSW, we wanted to raise awareness by asking our female plumber, Amanda Hendrie, about why she elected to study a career in a predominantly male trade and how she has found it along the way.
Choosing to study the Plumbing Trade wasn’t the average career choice for a girl growing up in Scotland. Amanda has found many challenges along the way but after setting up home in the Eastern Suburb community Amanda has found customers, co-workers and suppliers to be much more receptive to her role as a professional plumber in Australia with Bondi Plumbing Services.
David Paul, Managing Director of Bondi Plumbing says, “ When Amanda approached Bondi Plumbing for a position I was happy to have her join our service team. She has been a great addition because of her experience in gas-fitting and as a female plumber she provides an additional option to our customers. We welcome other women plumbers and apprentices to contact us if they are looking for employment.”
Why did you choose to be a Plumber?
I started a uni course and hated sitting down all day stuck in front of a computer so I knew an office job wasn’t for me so I started thinking about an outdoor career where I could solve problems and meet people each day.
What made you take the leap into Plumbing Career?
Most my friends were male and over a few drinks after work we got onto the conversation of me becoming a tradie. They were all tradies, a plasterer, carpenter., electrician, builder etc but none of them were plumbers so we all joked that’s what I should be – a plumber. It was just a laugh but it got me thinking so I started researching how to become a plumber.
Have you found there to be any challenges or problems you had to overcome being a woman in a predominantly male trade?
The more I thought about it and shared my interest with others the more I was driven to succeed because so many people tried to put me off the idea. That drove me on further. I went to the careers office in Scotland but unfortunately the advisor wasn’t supportive, he tried to put me off the idea and gave me very little positive advice. This spurred me on even more and I picked up a yellow pages and called around with no luck so I returned to the careers advice and the next person I saw was much more helpful and provided me with a list. I called the National Federation for Plumbers and the person who assisted me put me in touch with a plumbing business that took me on as an apprentice.
Do you think there are any misconceptions of female plumbers?
I found in the UK when I mentioned I was a plumber that many people reactions were negative and they doubted I could perform to the same ability as my male peers. However I have found after living and working in Sydney for the past three years that people are much more receptive to female plumbers. I believe every plumber has their strengths and weaknesses, whether male or female. Mine of course is that I cannot carry a 200l water heater, however I am able to access more confined spaces, I am an expert in gas and I have had to work that little extra harder to prove myself in my career, so I believe I am at the top of my game for the technical skills I practise.
What strengths do you think you need to work in a mostly male orientated industry?
You need to be thick skinned, driven by challenges, be prepared to work that little bit harder and have a great sense of humour.
What do you like best about the job?
I love meeting people from all walks of life and solving their problems. I appreciate that many people are interested in why I chose this career, and give me lots of positive feedback about the service I provide them. I also like the fact I fill a gap in the market for people who would prefer to have the option of a female tradesperson in their home for whatever reason. And of course I love being able to practise my favourite pastime – Yoga – on Bondi Beach before and after work.
To contact Bondi Plumbing Services please call 02 9417 0320 or 1300 0 BONDI.