Sophie Brooks lives in Bradford, where she is currently a support worker. She has recently completed a level 1 award in tiling, and is planning on taking further qualifications. She was awarded £100 from WEST in 2015 towards her course fees.
Originally I thought I’d do plumbing, but there was a waiting list. They had a 12 week tiling course starting, so rather than waiting around, I did that. And I really liked it!
What was it like being in a male-dominated course?
I was the only girl on the training course, and sadly that is a barrier. It did put me off, and I’m sure it puts other women off. I just tried to fit in. I had a bit of bullying at first from a male, but that got sorted out and he was expelled. My tutor and everyone else was really supportive.
I know that when you get qualified and you’re working on a construction site, you’ll be working with all blokes taking the mick out of you.
In an ideal world, if I won the lottery, I would be fully qualified and set up my own tiling business. I would train up and encourage other women to work in the trades, because that would be the best way to change things.
What do you like about tiling?
I find it therapeutic. I like the fact you can go in and transform a totally blank wall into something really nice; it’s quite artistic.
What did you want to be when you were a little girl?
A police officer. Then I worked for the police and didn’t like the unsociable hours. Now, there are new houses springing up all over – there’s loads of opportunities for tradespeople. And there are so many male tilers, and not many women.
What did you think when you got your WEST bursary?
I was really happy. I didn’t expect to get anything. It’s going into my savings account and when the course comes up and I can afford it, it’ll go towards that. I know getting qualified and setting up my own business are a long way off, but I keep myself motivated having self-belief keep me going.
Advice to other girls and women thinking of training to be tilers?
If you’ve got worries about it being male-dominated, don’t let it stop you. Don’t let anything get in the way. Just do what I’ve done – and try to volunteer to see what’s out there.