Trailblazer Tradeswomen | Toolstation

Trailblazer Tradeswomen: The Female Tradeswomen Who Led The Way

Tradespeople often have a stereotypical reputation. If you call for an electrician, plumber or builder, you’ll likely be expecting a man in a white van to turn up at your doorstep, but this view on tradespeople is long out of date.

A range of skills and knowledge is required to pursue a trade – whether that be engineering, plumbing, construction or electricals, and more and more women are training to become skilled in these industries.

All over the world, women are pushing through stereotypes and showing that they’re a real force to be reckoned with in the trade industry. But this movement hasn’t just started, it’s been going on for hundreds of years – and it’s women back in the 19th and 20th centuries that have paved the way for the tradeswomen of today.

Looking across major trade industries such as engineering, construction, plumbing and technology, we’ve been able to highlight some of the inspiring, unsung female heroes who were pioneering in their field.

An infographic highlighting some of the leading tradeswomen and their achievements across their industries. An infographic highlighting some of the leading tradeswomen and their achievements across their industries.

The Timeline Of Tradeswomen

From the invention of dishwashers in our homes right through to the architecture of London’s Shard building, women have worked tirelessly to innovate and achieve in traditionally male-centric industries.

Women born as early as 1839 pushed to defy stereotypes in trades – allowing room for the tradeswomen of today to excel. Here are some of the key pioneers across construction, engineering, inventions and technology.

A timeline infographic showing our leading tradeswomen's years of birth and their main achievements. A timeline infographic showing our leading tradeswomen's years of birth and their main achievements.

The Gender Pay Gap In Trades

But while pushing through and defying stereotypes is becoming the norm for these industries, being paid for what you bring to the role is a little further behind.

Key trades such as electricity and energy supply, architecture and engineering, construction, and scientific research and development, still have a pay gap between men and women.

While the UK’s Equal Pay Act of 1970 has put a stop to pay discrimination of those in the same job role due to gender, other factors such as opportunities for promotion, weekly working hours and childcare responsibilities disproportionally impact women from reaching their full earning potential.

The electricity and energy supply sector shows the biggest difference in pay, with women earning on average £15,128 less per year than males. Over an average career length of 30 years, this could mean men are earning as much as £453,840 more than women in this industry.

The second largest pay gap is within architecture and engineering – with women earning close to £14,000 less per year than their male counterparts. According to the data, men are taking home an average of £44,544 per year, with women taking home £30,711.

An infographic highlighting the gender pay gaps across different trade industries. An infographic highlighting the gender pay gaps across different trade industries.

While 2021’s pay data shows there is still work to be done when it comes to equality within trades, tradeswomen have come a long way since the first female plumber in the 1950’s.

It is thanks to trailblazers like the women above that females are even able to enter the industries considered ‘male dominant’ – and continue to break down boundaries.

Here at Toolstation, we encourage everyone, from those trying their hand at DIY in the home, right through to the professionals, to continue tackling the stereotypes. If you’re starting from scratch in the trades (or in the home), you can shop the essentials on our construction, plumbing and electrical supplies pages.

Methodology

All gender pay gap information was sourced using the following 2021 data from the Office for National Statistics:
https://www.ons.gov.uk/employmentandlabourmarket/peopleinwork/earningsandworkinghours/datasets/allemployeesashetable1 https://www.ons.gov.uk/employmentandlabourmarket/peopleinwork/earningsandworkinghours/datasets/regionbyindustry2digitsicashetable5

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