Belle has had a lot of job plans over the years. For a while she wanted to be a taxi driver. Then she decided she was going to work at McDonald’s, and for a while she had dreams of owning an ice cream van. Now she has a new plan – she is either going to be a dancer or a marine biologist, mainly I think because she hopes to discover a mermaid.
Although I don’t remember being told I couldn’t do a particular job when I was little, I don’t remember being hugely encouraged by school career advisors to think outside the box either. I don’t think anyone ever said ‘how about thinking about engineering or plumbing?’
There are plenty of industries where women are still relatively uncommon, so I thought it might be interesting to hear from one woman breaking the mould.
Katy Jordan works on the shop floor at Reddish Joinery. She beads windows, hangs sashes and is currently learning to spray.
“My main job is to make sure that all the frames, windows and doors are beaded as soon as they come down from the bench workers,” explains Katy. “At this point I also cut the aluminium for the doors and windows to the correct size. I take all the opening sashes and fit them all with the appropriate locking mechanism and the correct size hinges. The next step is to ensure that the windows are locking correctly and the final step is a quality check to make sure the product is up to the highest standard it can be.”
Katy hasn’t always worked with windows. “Before this job I did plastering with my father for a couple of years,” says Katy. “He taught me everything I needed to know! I wanted to go on to expand my knowledge in the window industry and so from there I came to work for Reddish Joinery.”
Caroline Parrott is another of Reddish’s female employees, and has been working as a sales consultant with them for ten months.
“It’s my job to visit the potential customer and find out exactly what they are looking for,” says Caroline. “Once I have gathered all the measurements I sit down with the client and discuss the ideas that they and that I have, if they want my input on design or style, and make sure I understand their needs. One point I always try to make is that as we are a local company, they are very welcome to visit the factory in Reddish to look around and see our joiners at work as we produce all our timber windows, doors and orangeries and conservatories on site.”
Have Katy or Caroline experienced any difficulties working in such a male dominated industry? She says not. “I can’t say there have been any obstacles,” admits Katy, “apart from the fact of starting a different job – there was a lot to have to take in and remember, especially with the paperwork! I often come across people saying you don’t hear of many women going the type of job I do. I think this is because my actual job is quite hands on and requires a lot of heavy lifting. You can’t be afraid to get your hands dirty!”
“I’d not really thought about women in the window industry until I started working in it,” admits Caroline. “I feel that, yes there could be more women involved in the industry, but feel that we are taking the lead and introducing customers and clients to a different approach in window sales consultants. I have turned up on the clients’ doorsteps a few times though and been greeted with ‘I didn’t realise it would be a woman at the door’.”
“There isn’t anything in particular that I’d like to change about working with Reddish Joinery,” adds Katy. “It would be nice to have another woman on the floor with me doing a similar job, but I understand it isn’t everyone’s cup of tea! Of course there’s no chance with this job of having pretty nails or anything like that, but apart from that I enjoy working for Reddish Joinery. It’s a very well run company and there is lots of support when it’s needed. I love that everybody works as one big team.”
What did you want to be when you grew up? How have your career ambitions changed over the years?