Every Monday, I’ve had this idea floating in my head of starting a Motivation Monday series dedicated just to the female plumbers and tradies that are working hard in their trade. The series will draw on my experience working as an apprentice and plumber as well as stories of women around the world working in their trade. We can learn a lot from each other.
One of the many reasons I started my blog was to be a voice – an example if you will – of a girly female plumber who successfully finished her apprenticeship, worked in a family business and juggled babies while helping run a plumbing business.
Of course these days, my life is dramatically different and turned in a direction that I completely unexpected. I often think how did I get here? It’s a career that’s never been thought of for plumbers before, and I have no doubt there are many more jobs that can be carved from a plumbing career that we haven’t even thought about yet. That excites me and it should excite you too.
As I was thinking about my early years, doing my apprenticeship, it got me thinking about what helped me complete my apprenticeship. There were 5 key things that helped and I believe they can help you too as you do your apprenticeship or handle the challenges of working onsite being the only girl.
1. Stable Support Crew – When you start you apprenticeship you are going to need a support crew who will motivate you, listen to you, be enraged on your behalf, validate your feelings of discrimination. Your support crew needs to have people who believe in you 100%, can mentor you and motivate you when you want to quit. For me, my parents and my husband were part of my support crew. They believed I could do it, helped me visualize the bigger picture and got angry on my behalf when I wasn’t treated right. Your support crew is so important when you start your apprenticeship and you will find the group gets added to over time when you start working as a licensed tradie.
2. Motivational Book. Each day, before when I’d get up or before I’d jump out of the car to work, I’d read 1 page from a motivational book to get me in the right frame of mind before showing up onsite. My devotional book was specifically for working women, and I would read a page each morning, in my car, before I headed to the TAFE classroom. There was one particular page I read a lot because it was all about believing you could do the impossible, despite thinking you couldn’t. This devotional was a great support to me. To find your own book you could use your bible, a devotional for working women or a book with a compilation of motivational quotes. You could also read blogs like Steel Heels and She’s Empowered to build yourself up for a great day. Books that are available are The Joy of Plumbing and Women in Workboots (Note, I’m giving one of these books away at the end of this month – but if you can’t wait, you can buy here).
3. Prayer. Whether you believe or not, for me prayer was a powerful way to focus on God and not on my limitations. I prayed for strength, for wisdom when working with men, for the ability to do my work well. Sometimes I’d bring the needs of any blokes I worked with onsite to God because I know that when we pray for others to have their needs met, our work situations can change because we become less focused on our needs, and more focused on others.
4. Mental strength. I often get emails from women who wish to work as a tradie, worried they don’t have the physical strength to do the job – or tradesmen have told them they don’t have the physical strength to do the job. I can’t deny you need some strength to do the job – but funnily enough I’ve seen overweight tradesmen get the work done. It’s all in the way you contort your body and if a woman can give birth to a child, she can certainly handle the strength required on the jobsite. I believe mental strength is the most important strength you will need to succeed as a female plumber. There will be days that you doubt yourself, and those doubts will be given more ammunition when you come up against a tradesman that tells you to your face you’re a crap tradie. Don’t entertain the doubts or fester on what has been said. Focus on your goal and when you need help believing in yourself go back to points 1, 2 and 3.
5. Perseverance. Mental strength and perseverance work hand in hand, but both are necessary if you want to succeed as a female plumber. Persevering through discrimination, old thinking, tough jobs and tough people who like to give you a hard time. Perseverance builds mental strength and the stronger you are, the more you are able to weather. Things that used to upset you will run like water off a duck’s back. Your time as an apprentice is hard because you can be tested for endurance as well as learning new skills, but the moment you get your license, it becomes slightly easier because your ticket proves you are capable of your job.
If you’re a female tradie, I’d love to hear what helped you succeed in your career? What advice can you give to other female tradies? If you’re not a tradie, what has helped you work through obstacles in your profession?