Edited by Tanya Olckers Submitted by BluLever Education

Plumbing Africa thanks BluLever Education for providing coverage of their ongoing Women on Tools campaign, which aims to change the narrative about women in the trades by sharing the success stories of their female apprentices.

Phuti Kgole.

Supplied by BluLever

Phuti Kgole started her journey into the plumbing field after she completed matric. Her love of building is what led her down the road to making plumbing her career. Here is her story in her own words:

“I loved building and creating things, and I was fascinated by how pipes and plumbing systems worked. I was always curious about how water flowed through the pipes and how they were all connected.

“I decided to pursue a career in plumbing because I wanted to be part of something that was both practical and creative. I was excited and a little bit nervous about entering a male-dominated industry, but I knew that I had the skills and the determination to succeed. When I started my EBL in plumbing, I found a supportive and welcoming community of people who were excited to have me.

“The first challenge I faced as an apprentice plumber was being underestimated by some of my male colleagues. They would often doubt my abilities or question my knowledge. I found it frustrating and demoralising at times, but I knew that I had to prove myself through my hard work and perseverance.

“I also experienced some stereotyping about being a female in the plumbing industry. Some people would assume that I was only interested in the maintenance side of plumbing, or that I would be less physically capable than my male colleagues. However, I knew that these assumptions were untrue, and I worked hard to show that I was just as capable and determined.

“One situation that stands out to me was when I was assigned to a job site where the site foreman was sceptical of my abilities. He would often give me simpler or less complex tasks and he would not give me the same opportunities as my male colleagues. I approached this situation by doing the tasks he assigned to me to the best of my ability. I was careful to pay attention to detail and to ask questions when I needed clarification. I also did not let his attitude affect my confidence or self-esteem.

“The most rewarding aspect of working in the plumbing industry, for me, has been the sense of accomplishment and pride I feel when I complete a job well. Knowing that I have fixed a plumbing issue and improved the functionality of a building is very gratifying. As a female professional, I have also been able to bring a different perspective to the workplace. For example, I have been able to improve communication in my workplace by introducing a more empathetic and personable approach. I have also been able to promote diversity and inclusivity by sharing my experiences as a woman in the plumbing industry.

“For young women who are considering plumbing or electrical careers but feel intimidated by the male-dominated nature of the industries, I would advise them to focus on their own strengths and goals. They should be aware of the challenges they may face, but not let that deter them from pursuing their chosen career. They should seek out mentors and role models who can provide support and guidance.”