Sophie Bateup: Ending Gender Stereotypes Will Open Doors for More Women in Trade



There was never a doubt in my mind that a career in plumbing was what I wanted.  Being female made no difference to my decision. I just think it’s a shame that more girls aren’t aware that this is a path they can take too.


Women are still very unrepresented in many of the UK’s growth industries and traditionally male-dominated jobs.  We make up just 1% of the skilled trades workforce.  Latest figures show that only 1% of plumbers and 500 members of the Gas Safe Register are female. However, we are at least beginning to see a change.


Barriers have been broken down through campaigns like ‘Get Girls Plumbing’ by WaterSafe, the UK’s leading plumbing assurance scheme.


I feel that there needs to be much more for girls to look up to. Then, we can end gender stereotyping and encourage more young people to consider plumbing and other industries where there is a skill shortage. Plumbing, like many trades, is a great career path that promises a good living and a skill for life.


I currently have an apprenticeship with Pimlico, which has a commitment to support female apprentices in all roles throughout their business.


My colleague Abbie Rose completed her Level 2 and Level 3 Motor Vehicle Maintenance and Repair qualification recently. She has been mentoring hundreds of girls in primary schools for the last two years.


It would be great to become a role model and inspiration for young girls to get into plumbing and show them that they also have the opportunity to have a hands-on role in a manual trade.


I joined Pimlico in 2018 for work experience. A senior engineer told me that if I took this apprenticeship opportunity I wouldn’t regret it, and he was right!


I’ve always been a very active person, I love practical learning and getting stuck into tasks. It was still a big choice to go against the norm of university like most of my friends and learn a skilled trade through an apprenticeship instead.


During my initial work experience, I worked in all departments within Pimlico to get a feel for the industry. I really enjoyed it and found that it was exactly what I’d hoped for.  The fact that I was female didn’t even cross my mind when I applied for my apprenticeship. I only thought about my passion for a career in plumbing.


Survey results from WaterSafe showed that UK homeowners would actually appreciate seeing more women taking up tools, with 59% feeling positive about a female tradesperson. Nearly a third of women said they would prefer a female plumber to carry out work on their home, as it made them feel safer and they felt they wouldn’t be ‘ripped-off’ or patronised by a woman. Best of all, 77% of homeowners said they just wanted a plumber who had the skills to do a good quality job, regardless of gender.


This is why plumbing stood out to me. It means I can learn a skill, combining active work with helping someone fix a problem. I love the sense of satisfaction in getting a customer’s heating working again, or sorting out their leaky tap.


There are never two days the same at my work, and I think that’s probably the best part of my job. I work beside a fully qualified and experienced engineer on a daily basis. There’s always a different challenge to tackle in people’s homes all over London.


I’m in the second year of my apprenticeship at Pimlico and am so pleased that I chose this path. I’m learning a trade, earning money and feel secure about my employment options for the future.


I would encourage any woman who’s interested to think about learning a trade.  Firstly, you’d be doing something valuable in helping to fill the skills gap within STEM related roles. Secondly, it’s a guaranteed career with a stable future and the potential for extremely high earnings. What are you waiting for?


By Sophie Bateup, Plumbing Apprentice at Pimlico



Sophie Bateup is a 16-year-old plumbing apprentice with the UK’s largest independent home services company, Pimlico.  Sophie, from Epsom, Surrey also attends North East Surrey College of Technology (Nescot) as part of her apprenticeship, which started in September 2018 and will finish in 2022.

Share your thoughts with our community of game changers