Local Heroes partners with celebrated children’s author to release book encouraging girls to consider tradesperson roles @LocalHeroesUK

The book launches following research revealing that nearly half of primary school children still believe being a tradesperson* is a “job for men”

[9th September 2021, London]: Local Heroes, an online platform matching customers with trusted local tradespeople and part of the British Gas family, has today announced the launch of a new children’s book, My Mum The Handyman, penned to encourage more young girls to consider a future career in the trade industry, which includes roles such as electricians, decorators, plumbers, and gas engineers.

The illustrated book, which has been written by award-winning children’s author, Ros Asquith, launches following research** revealing nearly half of primary school children (44%) believe that working as a tradesperson is a “job for men”, despite the number of women working in trade roles having increased by 120% over the last decade[1].

Stereotypes Starting at School

In the study of 1,000 British primary school children aged 6-11 commissioned by Local Heroes, when asked whether they thought there were specific subjects for boy or girls at school, a fifth (20%) of the children answered “yes”. Digging deeper, a fifth of those respondents (20%) agreed that maths was a subject specifically for boys and over a quarter (28%) said the same for science and ICT. On the other hand, languages (25%), music (31%) and English were (20%) were signposted as subjects specifically for girls.

With these gender stereotypes around STEM subjects starting from as young as 6, if not younger, it’s no surprise that only 13% of primary school girls aged selected ‘trade roles’* when asked what they wanted to be when they were older. This figure compares starkly when their male counterparts were asked the same question, with a staggering 43% selecting the same roles.

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Changing perceptions

Despite a significant increase in the number of women working in trade roles over recent years, the perception of what a tradesperson looks like is still stuck in the past; when the surveyed children were asked to draw a builder, only 7% stated they would draw a female.

Less than half of primary school children think women can be an electrician (48%), plumber (47%) and builder (44%), however over 8 in 10 children (82%) think that men can do these jobs. One in seven (14%) of the children went as far as to say that they don’t think a woman can work as a tradesperson, because ‘they aren’t strong enough’ or ‘it’s too dirty’. And, although almost half of primary school children view tradespeople roles as “jobs for men”, 44% believe their mum knows just as much as their dad when it comes to DIY.

Local Heroes is stepping in to change young people’s perceptions around STEM roles including roles in the trade industry. My Mum The Handyman is a touching and modern tale focusing on a young boy whose mother is an electrician, and aims to bring to life the true trade industry landscape. Local Heroes wants the book to be accessible to all and is encouraging parents and teachers to download the book from the website for free here. The book will also be printed and distributed to Local Heroes customers across the country over the coming months.

Susan Wells, Head of Local Heroes comments, “Although we are seeing more and more women working as tradespeople, it’s still widely considered a man’s job. These stereotypes start from such a young age, which is something we want to change. Our latest research shows that primary school girls aren’t considering that they might want to be a tradesperson, compared to their male counterparts. I am a mother to both a son and a daughter – I want my daughter to grow up knowing she can be anything she wants to be, and there should be no limits to her dreams just because she’s a girl.

We hope My Mum The Handyman will help young girls to see what an exciting and diverse role being a tradesperson could be, and inspire a new generation of female tradespeople.”

Ros Asquith, children’s illustrator and author comments, “This project was an important one for me – there are so many young people out there who aren’t considering roles just because they don’t think it’s something they can do, or that it’s not something for them as they haven’t seen anyone ‘like them’ doing it. I want to help change that, and that starts with the next generation – young children.”

Despite there being around 33,000 female tradespeople in 2019, a 120 per cent increase on the 15,000 reported in 2009[2], the stereotype that this is a man’s industry remains. The release of My Mum The Handyman in collaboration with Ros Asquith, is Local Heroes’ latest effort to recruit more women into the industry.  To read the full book, visit the Local Heroes website to read and download it for free here.

 

[1] https://www.directlineforbusiness.co.uk/public-liability-insurance/knowledge-centre/tradesmen-tips/women-in-trade

[2] https://constructionmaguk.co.uk/rapid-rise-in-female-tradespeople-over-past-decade/