The Rise of Women in Decorating

20 October 2023

Although 60,972 more women joined the construction industry between 2009 and 2019, CareerSmart data shows that women make up just 4.8% of painters and decorators.

Despite the industry being traditionally male-dominated, progress is coming to the sector slowly but surely. We have recently sat down with five of our female employees, ranging from managerial roles to trainees, to discuss their experiences and insights in the sector. Over the coming weeks, we’ll be releasing the interviews in full; read a snippet of each person’s interview below.

“I’m Abi Johnson. I’ve been a painter and decorator at Bagnalls for the past year, having previously worked as an apprentice. My Mum had wanted to be a joiner when she was younger but was told it wasn’t appropriate for her as a woman – but for me, I had a lot more support going into painting and decorating. My Mum was really happy to see me pursue my chosen career in a way she had never been able to.”

“I’m Joanne Gualda, Group Marketing Director for Bagnalls and Director of our Special Projects division. I joined the company 21 years ago in January 2000, starting as a Group Marketing Manager. I was also the first female director on Bagnalls’ board of directors in its 145-year history.”

“I’m Jane Potter, Branch Manager for Leeds and York. I joined Bagnalls over 30 years ago as an apprentice, taking part in the 1990 WorldSkills Olympics in Amsterdam for painting and decorating. Competitors complained that I would be named the winner because I was the ‘token’ female… I suggested that all names be removed from our work when the judges were scoring them, meaning that gender couldn’t play a role in our performance. I was there to win on the basis of my skill and didn’t want to give my critics grounds to find fault should I win.”

“I’m Katie Booth, a Contracts Manager at our Wolverhampton branch heading into my third year of the Management Trainee programme. At Bagnalls, I’ve played a key role in many ambitious projects such as our award-winning work on Resorts World, Birmingham. Although I occasionally receive sweeping statements or surprised reactions when people find out that a woman will be managing their project, I prove with time on the job what I’m capable of.”

“I’m Becky Slater, Head of SHEQ (Safety, Health, Environment and Quality) at Bagnalls. I joined Bagnalls in January 2020 and currently oversee Bagnalls’ standards of quality, safety and environmental responsibility. I’ve been responsible for our continued safety adaptations in response to the COVID-19 pandemic over the past year, ensuring our staff and customers remain safe throughout.”

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