Social media influencer Jasmine Gurney shares her experiences of working as a tradesperson, and how more women can be recruited to the industry
What attracted you to a career in construction?
I decided to start my career in this space because I am passionate about helping people to learn new skills and encouraging people to get their hands dirty fixing, creating or building something themselves.
I not only teach others how to use tools in an easy, judgement-free way, but also teach the skills and knowledge needed to start their first project.
I even help homeowners transform their spaces and use this opportunity to help others learn how to do it too.
Everything I do is a teachable moment, even when I’m figuring something out for the first time. I’m very passionate about ensuring everyone has equal access to this kind of education.
How did you get into the construction and trades industry – what route did you take?
My first experience of construction and trades was when I was a little girl. My granddad is quite frugal, so often did big home improvement jobs himself. When I was just four years old, I helped him build a concrete hardstanding for their car.
Ever since, I’ve been interested in learning how things are made and fixed.
I then studied woodworking at A Level and despite pursuing a career in marketing, my passion has always been to make a career out of building things and teaching people to do the same.
The Checkatrade Trade Skills Index report reveals that 85% of people employed in the construction industry are men. Men also represent 92% of construction and trades apprentices. Do you notice this when you’re on the job?
The construction and trade industry is undeniably male-dominant and it’s been pretty resistant to change, even with every other industry moving towards gender parity and equality.
Everything I do is a teachable moment, even when I’m figuring something out for the first time. I’m very passionate about ensuring everyone has equal access to this kind of education
Not only are there fewer women in the industry, but those who do take up a trade are typically paid less than their male counterparts too.
It seems like, at the moment, there’s nothing but the enjoyment of it to entice more women to join the industry.
Job adverts for ‘handymen’, ‘workmen’ and ‘tradesmen’ also alienate women in the industry and make it a less appealing industry to join.
How do people react when you tell them you’re a woman in the construction and trades industry?
When people see I’m a woman, I actually get quite a lot of abuse online, with men saying they could do a better job or I’m “doing something ‘wrong” and basically try and make out I don’t know what I’m talking about.
They often make comments about my appearance too. It’s quite sad really. I don’t see any males getting hate like this.
Others, however, think what I do is amazing, and I get lots of messages from people saying I’ve inspired them and are just generally impressed that I have these skills and knowledge. It’s a mixed bag, for sure.
How do you think we can inspire more women into trades careers?
We can inspire women to begin a career in trades by paying them an equal and fair wage, reducing the gender pay gap and making the workplace culture less intimidating and alienating.
The cat calling, demeaning language and general derogatory behaviour at construction sites and within trade businesses need to stop. Let’s be better!
Through teaching DIY, I hope to inspire people to try projects for themselves and pass these skills on to their children, which in turn hopefully will inspire a new generation of women wanting to get into the trades.
Jasmine Gurney is a DIY and interiors influencer through her YouTube platform DIY with Oh Abode