Woman told she’s doing a ‘man’s job’ on building site after becoming a bricklayer
A self-confessed ‘girly girl’ bricklayer who loves glamming up at the weekend has shown up ‘sexists’ who accuse her of doing a “man’s job”
Nicole Carlin, 22, has previously been accused of ‘bringing construction to the ground’ by close-minded bores.
The comments range from strangers branding her the ‘downfall of the industry’ to asking Nicole why she isn’t ‘fetching the tea’.
But she says she never lets people’s ignorance hold her back and isn’t afraid to hit back at ignorant comments – and says they are often ‘scared’ of being bested by a woman.
The constructions love to prove wrong those who assume she can’t be ‘girly’ because of her job, as she swaps her work’s high-vis and hard hat for hair and nail appointments out of work.
Nicole, 22, of Glasgow, Lanarkshire, said: “I tend to find it’s the older generation who take more issue with me being a female bricklayer.
“They have older traditional ways as they’re used to things being a certain way – females were never seen on sites before.
“They can get a bit sexist. You’ll get comments, sometimes you’ll hear stuff like ‘why aren’t you getting the tea?’.
“One time somebody commented that what I was doing was a ‘man’s role’ and construction was ‘falling to the ground’ if I was the new type of bricklayer coming in.
“I surprised myself at that moment. I’m not as sensitive as I thought as I replied, ‘Well if you’re uncomfortable or threatened because females are entering the roles maybe that problem lies with you. Maybe you’re scared a girl could do it better’.
“When people find out I’m a bricklayer, they do make assumptions. Usually, they’ll think about how heavy something is and whether I’d be able to lift it.
“People definitely assume that I’m a tomboy because I work in construction.
“I’m still girly but you can’t really show that at work. Outside work, I like doing my hair, my makeup, my eyelashes and stuff.”
But she says she has also encountered a great deal of support particularly from other women in her line of work.
The support and encouragement from women around her makes Nicole more determined than ever to inspire other girls to go into the industry.
Nicole said: “My main goal is to break down some myths that it is just a man’s job and I’d like girls to know that this is a great career choice to definitely think about.
“At my company, there are four other girls – one joiner and three painters. There are a lot more girls who are applying to get into construction jobs.
“Every female I’ve come across that’s either at work, college, meetings, anywhere, we are all very supportive of each other and it is really nice to meet other women across construction.
“I feel lucky as the sexism hasn’t affected me in any major way but that’s probably down to the support system I have around me.
“A lot more people nowadays are open to the idea of a female bricklayer.
“Most people are intrigued and just ask questions about why and how I chose to become a bricklayer.”
Her interest in construction started in her teens when her friends from other schools started taking up woodwork for their GCSEs.
After talking to her family about her desire to do something similar, her uncle suggested she look into college courses.
While her family were ‘shocked’ when Nicole came back with a dream to pursue her current career path, they have supported her every step of the way.
She went on to complete a college course in construction and is now nearing the end of a three-year apprenticeship with an additional Advance Craft award.
Nicole said: “Construction is very practical, it’s very hands-on which I quite enjoy.
“What I enjoy most about bricklaying is the people. You have a good laugh when you’re doing work like that. The days just fly by.
“When it’s sunny on a nice day, you can have a laugh. When I first told my mum I wanted to go into bricklaying, she was quite shocked.
“I’d always really been into my makeup and my hair so you could say I was quite girly. It was definitely shocking because of that aspect.
“But my family supported me. My mum especially was really pleased for me.”