A gas engineer says she’s proud to be breaking stereotypes after being told that she is in the wrong job because of her gender.
Despite it being 2021 and not 1951, Lisa Sheppard from Cwmbran, South Wales, claims she’s often told she isn’t able to “do a ‘man’s job'” and that instead of working as a gas engineer she “should be in the kitchen cleaning”.
As people around the world celebrate International Women’s Day 2021, it appears we’ve still got a long way to go before we redress the gender imbalance, but Sheppard is glad to be doing her part.
The 29-year-old recently qualified as a gas engineer following a four-year apprenticeship, after deciding she needed a career change from her previous job as a dental nurse.
“When I left school I had no idea about what I wanted to do,” she explains. “I just knew I needed to do something practical as I couldn’t be stuck in an office.
“I got into dental nursing, but it began to feel like a dead-end job and I was desperate for a career change.
“I saw the gas engineering apprenticeship online and I thought I’d apply as I had nothing to lose.
“And luckily I was offered the job.”
Sheppard said that knowing there weren’t many women in the trade didn’t really phase her.
“I get on really well with guys as I can have banter with them and I always had male friends through school,” she explains.
Sheppard is the only female worker in her company and was also the only woman on the college course during her four-year apprenticeship.
She says that it is such a male-dominated industry that people often don’t believe her when she tells them that she is a gas engineer.
“I would say I receive comments daily about how surprised people are when I turn up to do the job,” she explains.
“When I arrive at a tenant’s property they usually tell me how they weren’t expecting a woman.
“But I am trying to break the stereotypes and I think it would be amazing for more women to get involved within the trade.”
Watch: The history of International Women’s Day.
Sheppard has received some negative comments from men who assume she isn’t able to do as good a job as a male engineer, describing some as being “stuck in the mindset that women should just be in the kitchen”.
“Sometimes they don’t even need to say anything, they just look at you as if to say ‘you’re not going to be doing it are you?'” she explains.
“But I have no regrets at all. I am so glad I have done it because I love it.
“And I am proud of myself for doing it for the girls.”
The engineer says she also gets lots of positive feedback from people impressed with her work after completing a job.
“A lot of women have also commented on how they feel more comfortable with a female in the house especially the elderly and single mothers,” she explains.
“This is why I started my Instagram page, to help promote females getting into the trades,” she continues.
“If more women were to get jobs within trades it would help break the stigma that these are male jobs.”
Sheppard adds that because of her job people often judge her and expect her to be a tomboy.
“I want to prove that you can do what you like and be what you like,” she adds.
“Just because I am a gas engineer it doesn’t mean I don’t like typical female things.
“I love to put on a pair of heels and a dress, getting my make-up on and letting my hair down with my friends.”
Additional reporting Caters.