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In Celebration of International Women’s Day

International Women's Day (IWD) is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. The theme this year is “break the bias”. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity, something we at Bristan are in full support of. Here we chat with Briony Price, one of our On Tap Brand Ambassadors, to get a sense of how things have changed over the last 25 years and what more needs to be done in the installer community.

Tell us a bit about your installer business 

We’re based in Jersey – our business is Phoenix Plumbing and Heating Ltd. There’s three of us in the company and we’re all directors. We each bring a speciality such as bathrooms, alternative heating (solar etc) and small works (me!). Our work is mainly domestic and light commercial. 

How long have you been in the industry? How did you get started and why?
It will be 26 years. For me, I just didn’t want to work in an office, and I had plumbing in mind since I’d done a course at college.  I heard of one female plumber here in Jersey and thought that’s for me. Also, my dad was a site foreman, so I was used to that environment. 

What does IWD mean to you?

It’s definitely a good thing, particularly with social media helping to raise awareness. More than anything, it is a great platform to start a conversation, especially as the themes each year are interesting and it’s still relevant now.

What challenges did you find as a woman getting into the industry?

When I started training there was only one other female in the industry on the island, and generally, there weren’t many women doing traditionally male trade jobs. The challenges are what you’d expect – a bit more hassle and concern that I might not be up to the job, more from customers than anyone, where behaviours and traditions were quite ingrained, so there’s always been a need to prove myself. 

Also, when I started I was earning 50p an hour less than my male colleagues. I felt impelled to speak to my boss and he gave me the pay rise. It’s a shame I had to ask, but that’s just sadly how it was back then.

Has that improved over time?

Oddly enough, yes and no. Historically for me it really did improve, and then over the last few years, it has got worse again. That may be to do with things like lockdown or Trump, but certainly the anonymity of social media has made it worse. That whole mix of things

has seemed to make it somehow acceptable to not only be rude to people, but also sexist, and probably lots of other unacceptable things as well.

Have you seen more women in the industry?

Yes, for sure, there was only one when I started now there are three that I know of on the island, plus more in other traditionally male roles like painter and electricians.

What can be done to encourage more women into the industry?

I think it’s more than just about plumbing. We need to start from a young age, primary school age, to encourage children – girls and boys – to get into whatever career they want.

There’s still such an unconscious bias around genders and jobs, particularly in the traditional areas like manual labour, skilled trades, nursing. Ultimately these are jobs that anyone, provided they have the ability, can do.  

We need more positive role models, for both genders, going into school, showing the kids that if they can see it, they can be it.