Marilyn Monroe famously said “I don’t mind living in a man’s world as long as I can be a woman in it.” Society and women’s rights have of course come a long way since the Suffragette movement of the early twentieth century, and even since the 90s when ‘girl power’ was on the lips of every teenage girl in Britain. Yet gender equality discrimination, and empowerment are still common buzzwords of today’s media, especially when it comes to male-dominated professions.
In the electrical industry where only 1% of trading UK electricians are female, we have explored what it’s like working as a female electrician, and what business support is available within the UK for women looking to enter the trade.
Jobs for the Girls
In October this year, the NICEIC and ELECSA teamed up to launch an Academy to provide support for female electricians as part of their ongoing campaign, Jobs for the Girls. The objective of the campaign, backed by entrepreneur and Dragon’s Den star HIlary Devey, is to dispel the gender myth and encourage more women to join and gain experience in the electrical industry.
Following research conducted by the NICEIC, the UK’s voluntary regulatory body for electrical contractors, unemployment among women has risen to more than 1.1 million since the start of the recession, and 63% of 16-24 year old women said they would rather learn a skilled trade over a profession.
The Academy is providing four sessions during 2013/14 led by industry experts, and offers guidance and support for females looking to enhance their contracting careers. The first session focussed on electrical principles and calculations, protective devices, and safe isolation. Future sessions will include surge protection, green technologies and certification of works.
Females entering the industry
For anyone entering the electrical industry – whether male or female – there are a number of regulations to adhere to. In order to work as a qualified electrician, you will need an industry-recognised level 3 qualification, such as a diploma in Installing Electrotechnical Systems & Equipment. You will also require the following to practise as a trusted contractor:
- Part P certification
- Competent Person Schemes (CPS)
- Membership of the Electrical Safety Register
While some women have preconceived ideas about entering a male-dominated industry, Amy Kosmala, hailed as Gloucester’s first female electrical contractor, has built up her own business and told the Gloucester Echo: “There is no better time for a woman to become an electrical contractor and if I can give them any encouragement I will. Becoming an NICEIC Approved Contractor has enabled me to develop my career even further, as it has provided me with access to fantastic support and information, which has been invaluable in the early years of my business.”