• Akshay Patel

Breaking down male dominated industries: 2019 has seen a rise in Female Barbering.

Barbering in recent years has seen a rise of women preferring to pick up the clippers and breaking through into the male dominated industry of barbering. The industry has seen in the last five years a gradual incline of women breaking down the stereotypes in barbering in the UK.

“What do you call a female barber?...a Barber-ess?”. No, this was not a comedy joke but was an honest question asked to female barber Rachael Flynn. Flynn a thirty year old barber from Billingham who has made herself a credible name within the barbering industry is known for making her stamp upon the industry.

Barber Rachael Flynn: "I can cut men's hair, yes i am a barber". Photo Cred: Rachael Flynn.

Flynn had become the first women ever in the UK to win and get to the finals of the British Hairdressing Association’s Barber of the year 2018 awards. And so remains the current best female barber in the country. Flynn has entered herself into multiple barbering competitions in the country. But it was that specific award which is like the “Oscar of the industry” she said.

When I had spoke to Flynn, who left school at an early age and went straight into the trade. She had said initially you were never encouraged to go into hairdressing. “No woman was ever encouraged to cut men’s hair and and no men expected to have their haircut by a woman”.

Photo credit: Rachael Flynn.

She had spoken about the sexism which initially started in her career. She stated: “you would get wolf whistled at first and then they realised you were cutting their hair and not the cleaner” she chuckled.

"you would expected to be paid less, simply for being a female in barbering back in the day" she added.

Throughout her career, when she hadn’t been established, Flynn had no female barber to look up to as inspiration. Flynn believes it’s the breaking of gender stereotypes and the rise of feminism which is helping to tackle this male dominated industry.

Sexism within the barbering industry has began to dire down. Flynn comments on how when she started her barbering career; comments such as “a woman can’t cut men’s hair”were made and had often been left at the bud of sexist customer jokes. She spoke on how she didn’t even challenge it, as it was expected.

London School of Barbering is notorious in the British scene. It’s a credited school for the teaching of many international and national barbers providing an intense barbering qualification. It has three locations in the heart of London – Farringdon, Covent Garden and Liverpool street.

A representative from London School of Barbering, Sophia who works in the admin and HR of the organisation, spoke on how the industry is “enjoying a long-waited and remarkable renaissance.”

It wasn’t until the early 2000’s where women had begun to break into barbering and were taken more seriously into the career. Flynn added: “in my career, the attitude towards female barbers were changing. It could be due to the rise of feminism, because the attention was changing from who was cutting your hair, to the skill of the person”.

Photo cred: Rachael Flynn.

The Bluebeards Revenge analysed data from its internal database, which showed of its 6,004 barber records, 1,419 were female. This compares to just 434 of 4,126 records in 2015. Between 2015 to 2018 had seen an increase 13% in the rise of female barbers in the UK.

A piechart of the Bluebirds Survey showing the number of female barbers in the UK. 2015: 434 of 4,126 (10.5%)

2016: 679 of 4,561 (14.8%) 2017: 911 of 5,235 (17.4%) 2018: 1,087 of 5,786 (18.7%) 2019: 1,419 of 6,004 (23.6%)

Sophia explained the rise of female barbers and why more are preferring to become barbers then hairdressers is because; “in the last ten years men’s grooming has become very big in recent years so a lot of hairdressers are switching to barbering”. She comments on how the industry had de-stigmatised male grooming and is in the process of de-stigmatizing female barbers.

She adds: “men are getting their Men are getting their hair cut three or four times as much as women now, so the industry is coming up to the same point as female hairdressing”.

She says from a management perspective, she always reviews female applications to those who apply for courses at The London School of Barbering. And that she finds it a “joy” seeing it. Sophia said: “I have definitely seen a rise in women applying and it’s great to know women are breaking barriers”.

Some employers still refuse to employ female barbers, but that is becoming less and less these days. She added: “Some men (although this is changing now) don’t like to be seen by a female barber as they feel they only know hairdressing and not men’s hair (barbering). “

Photo cred: Bridey Jo Owen.

Another woman breaking her way into industry is barber Bridey Owen. Owen, 24, from Wolverhampton. She has been in the barbering industry for four years and is popular over social media site Instagram for her barbering. Owen states: “I’m still kind of new to barbering but even the welcome into it was so open and genuine”. This is definitely able to show the difference to when Flynn started 10 years prior. Showing how more females the fear to enter the male dominated industry is being challenged.

More women, now more-so than ever are increasing in the industry. The social norms and stigma around the industry is minimising and for the future of barbering and where the industry goes is more now more so than ever for women and for feminism.

Flynn commented, “the change is happening now, I am seeing more female barbers in shops, entering competitions and it’s excited. Just wait and see what’s to come for women in this industry.”

67 views0 comments