Women in Pest Control by Jim Dunn of PEST UK:
I was slightly taken aback when I found out that my new work colleague Mel was actually a woman, not a man, as it got me thinking that we are in fact a very male dominated profession. Back when I started in the business in 1991, my very first trainer at National Pest Control was a very nice lady called Rhiannon, but I was told that she was one of only two female technicians within the company as against over sixty men. five years later I began working for Windsor & Maidenhead Borough Council under the tutoring of veteran pest controller Charlotte Reason, and now there is Mel. But it is a pretty poor return, after 22 years and 9 companies in the business these are the only women I have EVER worked with.
So why is this? After all there are plenty of women in “dirty hands” professions such as cleaning, nursing and others, so why not pest control?
I have a theory on this. I have noticed over the years that there is very little sex equality in the field of fear of rodents, as a general rule of thumb, the ladies tend to be terrified of our 4-legged friends. It is not unknown for the mere mention of rats, especially, and mice to a lesser degree, to send women reaching for the suitcase and moving out. But I have never known a man to do this.
This does not seem to be the case with other beasties. I have two friends who will evacuate the room if a spider should appear, and plenty of guys will fly into a panic at the sight of a wasp, so why should rodents be any different?
The simple answer is that I don’t know. It is one of those illogical facts that defies explanation. I always try to explain to clients that in 22 years of encounters with rats I have never been challenged, attacked, jumped at, or bitten by one. In fact without exception, every rat I have ever seen has turned tail and run away. By comparison I have been stung by bees or wasps 27 times!
But then most phobias are without common sense, be they rodents, heights, closed spaces, snakes [my girlfriend’s favourite], clowns, water or whatever.
to end on a personal note, like most technicians I am frequently asked if there is anything I am afraid of and I always give the same answer:- Over the years I have killed rats and mice with my hands, had cockroaches dropping down my shirt and crawling up my legs, walked from a building covered in fleas, been knee deep in pigeon cr*p and had those 27 stings. None of this has phased me, but if I should arrive at a house and there is a dog barking I will back off. If it is barking and boisterous I will not come in until it is out of the way and my heart has slowed down a bit!
So maybe I should understand the fear of all those ladies standing on their chairs while Rowland and Mickey do their worst and just accept the fact that there will never be many woman in our business, at least the ones I have worked with have all been pretty good.