International Women’s Day 2018: Defeating stereotypes in a male-dominated environment.

Ebony Duggan, 38, from Leicester is a Gas Service and Breakdown Engineer at Evolve. She explains her role as the only female operative on her patch, and the challenges she faces with defeating stereotypes.

Ebony Duggan works as a gas engineer at Evolve.

When I was younger, I worked as a Planner at British Gas. I have always been a practical person, I love fixing things and doing DIY so when I was 27, I decided to go back to college to re-educate myself. I completed qualifications in Gas and Plumbing, and I have now been working for Evolve for just over a year. It was the best thing I ever did.

Day to day, my role involves visiting customers’ homes and servicing and repairing boilers.

I love my job. I have never enjoyed staying in one place, so I really enjoy the freedom of being out in the community and meeting new people every day. I’m also training an apprentice at the moment.

There is a gender imbalance in the construction industry. Only 13% of the construction workforce in the UK are women, and I think the Government could do more to promote careers in construction to women.

Working in a male-dominated environment can be challenging, especially when I’m confronted with gender stereotypes and the perception of women from the public . Sometimes, customers are surprised to see me when they open the door. I think this is because they don’t expect to see a woman arriving at their home to fix their boiler!

One customer assumed that my apprentice (a 20-year-old man) was the qualified engineer, and I was the apprentice. When I asked why, they replied, ‘Because you’re a woman.’

However, I believe that things are changing. Conversations happening around the world about gender equality are empowering women to challenge stereotypes and take on roles previously perceived to be masculine occupations.

There are so many more women working in the construction industry today compared to when I first qualified seven years ago,  but there is still a lot of work to do. With apprenticeship programmes and training courses aimed specifically at women, the industry could make some real progress towards defeating stereotypes and rebalancing the scales.”

Evolve has training and employment opportunities open to everyone regardless of their gender.

Brian Gates, Community Development Manager at Evolve said: “Currently we have five women employed as electricians, gas engineers and in quantity surveying roles, and we welcome anyone to work in construction providing they have the correct skills and qualifications to carry out the job.

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