women in careers: vicky the tiler
Ever look in your bathroom, toilet or kitchen and wonder who might have done the hard yards in designing, cutting and tiling? Perhaps you’ve wondered what exactly might be involved?
A simple google search lead me to the simplest definition to describe the activities of a tiler with the result concluding: one who lays tiles. Sounds good enough, yeah? So here’s a bit of the story of Vicky Jarvis, 23, one of only a handful of female tilers in Australia, and probably the world!
Vicky’s journey to becoming a tradeswoman was motivated by the search for a personal challenge and her choice seems to have proven a success. Knowing she had an interest in becoming a tiler, it took Vicky a while before she took the plunge into study. By the time she got up the courage to enrol in TAFE, the fear of studying in a group of mainly men towards a career in a male dominated industry had diminished, particularly with the added bonus that her experience cut down her study time through recognition of prior learning.
“It wasn’t as scary as I thought”, she says.
Surrounded by peer encouragement Vicky says the hardest thing for her was actually convincing her dad to let her work with him in the family business.
And as for the logistics of the job, “It’s not all macca’s coffee,” Vicky says. Travelling to different sites and meeting different people, the job of a tiler is one of those jobs that’s different each day. Typical activities in the life of a tiler go something like this…
First: Room preparation may include ripping out old tiles and equipment and ‘clearing the canvas’ for a new design. The space must be clean for a strong, durable starting ground.
Next: More preparation including sheeting, waterproofing and then let the tiling begin! Tiling will continue over the next few days, of course, depending on the size of the space.
To finish: completion of tiles, design and accessorising.
Vicky says one of the challenges that comes with her job is making things work with limited materials and with all the shapes and sizes of places that can be tiled, it’s an art form to be perfected. Proudly showing off her “pride and joy”, aka a flat bed tile cutter, Vicky explains the process to cutting the perfect tiles and the tools you can use. There’s a long ‘slide and snap’ type tool and a small ‘crunch’ type tool to help shape small and rounded tiles.
Although she has “never met another female tiler”, Vicky says that customers often enjoy having a female opinion and appreciate her natural eye for detail. This is an industry dominated by males, so Vicky encourages women to consider a tradie career.
Gender aside, there are a few qualities that are particularly suitable for tiling profession. Tilers.com.au recommends people with good hand eye coordination and eye sight; as you can imagine, there are tricky details and specifics involved. It’s also recommended that “people who enjoy mathematics, have great motor skills, and who like practical work may consider becoming a qualified tiler”.
As with any profession, a code of ethics outlines the moral standards to which tilers perform their work. This can be found on the Australian Tile Council Inc website, a national Australian organisation set out to achieve the best for the tiling industry and all those training and working in it.
For anyone interested in becoming a tiler, there’s easily google-able information in your local state or territory for apprenticeships or trade certificates at TAFE. Hit the keyboard and get involved!
If you’re a career woman in a male dominated industry, I’d love to hear from you! Contact me at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Image Credit (1, 2, 3, 4)