Girl power reshapes plumbing game31 July 2015
As the only female in her TAFE course and the second female in the institute’s history, Brielle Lentfer is proof of the trade sector still being very much a ‘man’s world’. But this hasn’t stopped the determined 18-year-old, who has taken well to the ‘lady tradie’ title.
Before a career in plumbing was on the cards, Brielle worked at Reece Plumbing behind the trade counter.
‘This job taught me two things. Firstly, it taught me that I didn’t want to be stuck in a desk job, and secondly, it taught me that I was super interested in the plumbers’ work when they’d come in for supplies.’
Brielle met Reece customer Matt Cooper during this time, and in November last year, began labouring for Matt, who also knew Brielle from his son’s school.
‘I never thought girls could be plumbers until I met Matt – it’s great sticking it to the boys!’
Matt said that Brielle has impressed him from the start.
‘Brielle is already capable of handling paperwork, quoting, as well as the physical stuff - and she’s a whiz with the sewer jet and camera.’
Building respect from customers and fellow colleagues has been a slow but steady process.
‘My female customers are really accepting and trust me a lot, same with the younger males. The older men are a little bit trickier to gain respect from - some are very stuck in their ways.’
And according to Matt, Brielle has inspired other young women wanting to follow suit. ‘Since Brielle started, I’ve received requests from two other young women wanting work. She is certainly helping to change the way people think.’
For other girls out there wanting to get into plumbing, Brielle’s advice is to get in and stay put. ‘Don’t let the ‘tradie world’ intimidate you because you’re a girl. Work hard, learn quickly and stick with it. Working outside is awesome and pay day makes the hard days well worth it.’