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This article from Boiler Guide about the low numbers of female heating engineers is so interesting and well researched we’re happy to point directly to it.

Here are a few excerpts:

2 key accreditation bodies for the industry have estimated that:


  • Of 100,000 Gas Safe registered engineers, there are fewer than 500  female gas engineers.
  • Of more than 9,000 OFTEC engineers (register for Oil Fired Technical Association), fewer than 30 are female.


And, according to statistics from the Institute of Engineering and Technology, fewer than 10% of the UK’s engineers are women – the lowest percentage in Europe. Staggeringly low figures which show a huge gender imbalance in the heating and plumbing industry.

With the current and growing skill shortage more women need to be attracted to join the plumbing and heating industries

Most householders state they're happy with either a male or female tradesperson or engineer in their home and a significant minority would prefer a female

NB: In households where there are a man and woman living together 80% of buying decisions are carried out by the woman, we can extrapolate from this that the 35% of women who said they would prefer to use a tradeswoman could represent 35% of that 80%.

38% of female customers prefer to use a tradeswoman

This graph is interesting because it shows how heavily women householders buying decisions are based on customer service.

Bridging the Gender Pay Gap

Bringing more women into the skilled trades could help to significantly lessen the gender pay gap. In 2014 the government think tank, Demos, launched a cross-party Commission on Apprenticeships, to investigate how the pay and career prospects of men and women can be improved through trainee work.

The initial report found that 83% of apprentices in health and social care are female, 91% in childcare and 93% in hairdressing. The average full-time salary in these sectors is £21,200. In sectors with the highest rates of male apprentices, such as construction (where 2% of trainees were female) and engineering (where 3% of apprentices were female) the average salary is £29,600 a year.

Demos researcher, Jonathan Todd, said: “Our analysis reveals that women are significantly more likely to take apprenticeships in low-paid sectors. These concentrations reflect long-established perceptions of male and female employment. The sooner we can challenge this, the better.”

Gender Perceptions in Childhood

A report by Education and Employers found that children’s career ambitions only change very slightly between the ages of 7 and 17. The survey asked 13,000 children aged 7-11 to draw a picture of the job they wanted to do when they grew up.


  • 36% of children base their career ambitions on someone they know
  • 45% were heavily influenced by TV, film and radio


Dr Elnaz Kashefpakdel, Head of Research, Education and Employers, said:

“Our findings clearly show that children start to rule out career options from an early age and their choices are often influenced by what they see in the media. This highlights the pressing need for closer ties between employers and schools, to ensure that all children have access to role models in a wide range of sectors to help them develop an awareness of career options at an early age. This is vital to ensure that all children – regardless of gender and backgrounds – can fulfill their full potential.”

The careers we think about and role models we’re surrounded by in childhood have a lasting imprint on our future decisions. Worryingly, this also seems to apply to gender-stereotyped views on jobs.

“Several of them (women and girls interested in a career in plumbing) have had careers advisers and teachers tell them they’re ‘too good’ for a career in plumbing or heating. Unfortunately, it’s seen by many as an easy option which is a big misconception. In reality there’s a high level of physics involved as well as creative thinking and problem solving, and they are working with gas which can be incredibly dangerous if not managed competently.” Stopcocks

WaterSafe’s survey of 2,000 customers found that 24% of women weren’t advised to take up a trade whilst at school but were encouraged into more stereotypical female roles such as secretarial work. And, perhaps most crucially, 38% of women surveyed said that if they had chance to start out again, they would like to ‘take up a trade’ because it offers a more stable career path.

Girls and boys need to learn basic construction skills in school

At Stopcocks, although many householders we talk to would be happy to ‘have a go’ at basic plumbing I(if they had time) a surprisingly large number of people seem to be totally baffled by even rudimentary DIY and phone for professional assistance for such tasks as changing a light bulb.


For the full article which provides considerably more background on the status of female heating engineers in the industry as a whole than these excerpts go here