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Kobelka believes that as
more women get into construction trades, “it will become a generational thing.
People will have moms that are plumbers or electricians. It will make it a lot
easier. It is hard to be the only woman on the job site. If no other women are
doing a job, what does that say? Who wants to be the first one to try?”
There is a perception
that you have to be big and brawny to work in the construction trades but
Kobelka says that’s not the case. “Anyone starting out as an apprentice is
going to struggle a bit at first, boy or girl,” she says. It is a question of
getting your body used to doing the work and getting in shape. “I see new
(male) apprentices struggling as much as I did. You gain strength as you go
Kobelka’s favourite part
of the job is “seeing the finished product.” It is very satisfying to start a
job at the rough-in stage (the initial stage of construction when the pipes are
being laid) and then putting in the basins and shining the taps. “My dad
actually likes me to do that part because he thinks women have a better
attention to detail. When you mount the sink, it has to be level and straight
with the backsplash, there can’t be a stray bead of silicone dripping anywhere.
It has to be perfect, basically.”
The worst part of the
job? “Hey, it’s plumbing! It can be very dirty. No matter how hard you try, you
are inevitably going to get stuff on you.” (Kobelka does not go the details of
what that “stuff” is, but needless to say, plumbers of either gender are going
to have their challenging moments.) “Obviously you are going to have stuff that
is dirty in a bathroom — that’s where you go to get clean!” she laughs.
Krista Humphrey had her
hand in the traditional “pink-ghetto” of office administration at Children’s
Hospital in Toronto before she and her partner, Bernie, decided to make the
move to B.C.
“We were going to go out
to Gabriola Island and take a timber framing course first,” she explains.
But Bernie had a friend
in Whistler so they decided to drop in and visit him first. He was a tile
setter and offered to teach Krista and Bernie everything he knew.