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08 Mar 2024 < Back

Women in waterproofing

In support of International Women's Day and shining the spotlight on women in construction, Izzy Barham from Anglia Property Preservation Ltd (APP) has written a guest blog taking us through her journey into waterproofing. Discussing the barriers and challenges she has faced, and overcome, as well as what she would say to anyone looking to take the leap and start a career within the industry.


Where it all started

You would imagine that in 2022, when I joined APP, that the only barriers I would have encountered would have been those used in actual waterproofing treatments, I quickly found out that wasn’t the case, and that being a woman in this industry appeared to be a barrier of its own.

Up until early 2022 I was working as a special needs teaching assistant, it was a very rewarding job, however the challenges following Covid had given me a different perspective and I felt that my career needed a change of direction. From a very young age I have enjoyed manual work, be that mucking out horses for my mum or helping my dad with the family plumbing business, hard work is in my blood. The job description from APP piqued my curiosity, obviously my enthusiasm for learning something new paid off as I was offered the chance to become their new Waterproofing Apprentice.

IzzyBcertificate

A woman's worth...

I am the first woman technician to work for APP. I have female colleagues in the office but on a day-to-day basis it’s me and the boys!

From the start I have probably had to work a bit harder, not necessarily to prove my worth to my colleagues but definitely to other contractors and customers.

One situation that comes to mind: I arrived with my supervising colleague to a building site. As I got out of the van, worksheet in hand, the builder immediately said, ‘You’ve got to be joking me’ (clean version), and looked at my colleague with raised eyebrows. I’ve never been more determined to prove someone wrong, and by the end of the contract, he had rung the office to say what a great job I had done. This was a defining moment in my short career and one that could have brought it to a swift end. However, it only served to make me more determined.

Shaping the future for women in construction

As far as meeting other women in the industry, unfortunately I know of very few. I was the only woman on the Structural Waterproofing Apprenticeship. To be honest this didn’t surprise me, and as I was expecting this, it didn’t present any issues. As far as the wider landscape of construction I have not personally met many women, apart from a skip driver and a surveyor!

My initial fears about not being physically strong enough to undertake the work expected of me have proved to be unfounded, there is nothing I have come across that I haven’t been able to tackle. Perhaps these fears are one of the contributing factors why women do not see this type of work as a career? This I find to be a real shame, but how we bring about change I’m not sure. Not having had a woman role model within the industry myself, I would like to think that I could be a role model for future apprentices. With this in mind I am going in to my daughter’s school to do a careers week talk on the construction industry.

IzzyBonsite

My advice to anyone, man or woman, would be to take a leap of faith. You may be surprised how interesting the world of waterproofing is. Firstly, my colleagues and APP have been nothing short of supportive in my journey. Secondly, I get to work in some amazing buildings, see their history and know our work is helping to preserve them for the future, this brings a great deal of satisfaction.


Final thoughts

We would like to thank Izzy for not only sharing her expereinces and highlighting the barriers she overcame as a woman in the construction industry, but also for encouraging others to take the chance into pursuing a career in waterproofing. 

As reported by the Office for National Statistics, there are more women in construction than ever before, which is a great step forward and one we look forward to seeing grow! We invite anyone considering a career in waterproofing, damp and timber, or invasive weed management to explore our training courses and job board for opportunities across all levels.

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