International Women’s Day is annually held on March 8 to celebrate women’s achievements throughout history and across nations. So how is our industry doing in terms of inclusion of women? Planteria has been in operation for over 40 years, and our first female technician joined the workforce in 2013. Women now make up 33% of the technician workforce. I caught up with three of our plant technicians Catie Scott, Carol Nelson and Laura Kearsey to hear their views and insights on working in the Facilities Management and Horticultural industry, to find out what changes they have seen over the past few years and what they think about their role.
Carol has been working in the horticultural industry since 1992 and has been a technician for almost 20 years. What she most enjoys about her job is the freedom and the travel “ I love the freedom and responsibility, it’s my job to keep the customer happy and get the best out of the plant displays. I feel supported and encouraged by Planteria, it makes me want to do my best. I feel a valued member of the team and I’m proud to work with a company with such honesty and integrity “ says Carol. “My training has been gained on the job and through experience”. Carol has worked for several planting companies and in her experience has found more women in this industry than men. She has found that men have tended to do more of the large-scale jobs for example shopping centres, ladder work, fixtures and trees. But, she has been instrumental in changing this, involving more women in doing the outside work including fixture beds and training on tree loppers etc.
Laura Kearsey started working as a technician 15 years ago in a garden centre and training was on the job shadowing watching and wanting to know more. In her opinion, she has found that men and women have been always treated equally working in this field. She has faced no barriers to her role from being female the only comment is that the uniform manufacturer should make a female uniform cut.
Laura says “I think women are expected to do a more hands-on role now, so the future can only get better for us all. What I like most about my job is that happy feeling I get at the end of each day, knowing I’ve made a difference to the environment for hundreds of office workers, even though most probably don’t realise how important plants are to them. Each day is different, meeting new people and visiting different sites, variety is the key”.
Catie Scott joined Planteria six months ago. She started her career in horticulture three years ago at a large independent garden centre. Catie has a BA degree in Fine Art and Sculpture and went on to complete a professional floristry course in New York, her passion for plants and flowers has grown since then. Catie says “I have experienced some clients commenting on the fact that I am a woman as they are so used to seeing men doing this job. I don’t think I have faced any barriers in this role because of my gender, I am a confident person and feel strongly about gender equality not just in this job but in life general, so I tend to carry myself with strength. I have had occasional varying comments, and looks which I have struck off, it’s not an issue which I take seriously enough to worry about. I think times are changing and equality between men and women is becoming more and more important, so I can only see things improving in regard to that. What I like most about my job is a sense of empowerment and responsibility. I love being in charge of my own sites and dealing with clients directly. The level of knowledge I have about plants is a huge plus for me in terms of that sense of responsibility, as I am confident to speak with people about what I am doing for their sites and why. I also love to be out and about, every day is different and that definitely keep things interesting for me”.
By Katie Le Chevalier
With thanks to Carol Nelson, Laura Kersey and Catie Scott.