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The pipes are calling for aspiring women plumbers”


Ten years ago, she was knocked back for plumbing apprenticeships by employers, who said it would be impossible for the mother of four. So, she became an apprentice to her husband, Mark, and now runs her own business, with three out of five of her employees being women.

She says there’s been more positive than negative interactions with workmates, but sexual harassment is still around: she’s been left abusive voicemails and once, working up a ladder on a building site, a laborer stared at Ms Smyth’s backside until her husband told him to stop .

Third-year apprentice Michaela Healey, 28, said she hadn’t encountered sexism from a plumber, but another worker, an older man, once told her she “didn’t belong on a building site”.

Ms Healey said that on leaving school, she was encouraged to be a carer and then a nurse, which didn’t suit her. She loved the problem-solving and constant learning of plumbing.


The Women in Plumbing campaign was “amazing”, she said, adding she was confident the number of women in the industry would rise.

She said the qualities needed included using initiative, not being afraid to ask questions and being willing to have a go.

Once the job “wasn’t socially acceptable”, but women were learning “that they can do whatever they want to do. If they want to be a plumber, they can be a plumber”.

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