Marie is used to being something of a novelty on whichever building site she is working on. As an apprentice site carpenter, not only is she older than most apprentices due to having previously had a career as a chef manager, she is also among the tiny 1% of onsite construction workers who are female.
This can initially lead to some logistical issues – such as a sixty floor round trip to get to the ladies toilet facilities. However with more girls starting to consider apprenticeships in traditionally ‘male’ trades such as plumbing and carpentry, supported by initiatives such as Women In Construction, employers are gradually starting to wake up to the fact that they need to factor in the ‘ladies’ when setting up building sites.
In her late thirties, Marie was looking for a career change and as someone who had always been practical and hands on when it came to fixing things, was considering plumbing. However, she discovered carpentry on a 13 week multi-skills course and decided that working with wood was the way forward. After securing a work placement with Brown & Carroll 18 months ago, Marie began her apprenticeship and having completed Level 1 is now gathering evidence for her Level 2 NVQ in Site Carpentry.
From Marie herself:
“It was daunting at first, coming onto an all-male building site, and I did have preconceptions of your stereotypical builder. However, I have been pleasantly surprised at how helpful and supportive everyone has been. Brown & Carroll have been great at giving me opportunities and helping me to grow, we’re already talking about NVQ Level 3. I’m enjoying learning new skills and want to carry on progressing. I’m willing to muck in and get on with it just like everyone else, so now I’m just seen as one of the team. Women bring different skills and thought processes to the job, which can be an advantage when problem solving and even having smaller hands has occasionally come in useful! I enjoy helping to inspire other young women and recently met a 20 year old who has taken up carpentry after hearing me speak at an event.”