I found it hard enough to get taken on as an apprentice at first. Some people had a problem with me being a female bricklayer, so I spent quite a while looking.
My CITB Apprenticeship Officer never gave up though and they were in touch every week to let me know they were making calls.
I got a job in retailing during that time but it wasn’t where I wanted to be. I was still actively looking for a job in construction and labouring on the side for experience. I thought if I did that it would be something else I could show on my CV.
At one point I was told I had a job but when they found out I was a female they said no. They didn’t even try to hide the fact.
I love the job I’m in now. It’s really great and the people I work with every day have been brilliant.
When I first started a lot of people were surprised at having a female bricklayer. After we got to know each other a bit better they told me they couldn’t believe there was a ‘lass’ on site. They thought it was only a rumour.
The squad that I work with are quite young and they’re all very supportive.
The job was hard at first. There’s getting used to everything, the labouring, and concrete blocks are heavy. But after a while you just get used to it and it gets easier. You build up that strength.
Blocks were always my problem starting out. With the scaffold you’ve got hop-ups that lift you up. I could only do two courses before I’d have to jump out of the line and wait until a scaffolder came to move us up so I’d be able to reach again (I’m quite small at 5’2”).
It’s a physical job but it’s brilliant being outside all the time. You’re constantly learning things and fixing new problems you come across.
I didn’t realise I was going into a bricklaying apprenticeship at first. It was meant to be a construction course on all the different trades, to help you figure out which one you wanted to do.
There weren’t enough tutors so it ended up being just bricklaying for the year, but after that I knew it was what I wanted to do.
I’ve done some college talks since to get other women interested in apprenticeships. I’m the only woman I know in construction and I think more needs to be done.
Having more women on the job would make things more equal and help people in construction get used to the idea.
Even if I wasn’t working in construction right now, I’d still be actively looking to get into some sort of building job.
Once you have those qualifications, you have a lot of freedom and could even move to another country. I’ve even been thinking about trying bricklaying in Australia myself – the weather would be better!