A GAS technician who was once told ‘there is no place in this industry for women’ has been shortlisted for an award.

Joanne Riding, who works for Together Housing Group, has been named as a finalist in the Professional of the Year category at the Women in Housing Awards.

When Ms Riding, 39, from Rossendale, left the travel industry to follow in her dad's footsteps, who works in construction, she was shocked to become a victim of sexism.

One boss even refused to pay her the same as her male colleagues saying, ‘you’ll always be an apprentice as far as I’m concerned’.

Instead of giving up, it motivated Ms Riding to succeed and she was head-hunted by a heating and plumbing company.

She then joined Together Housing Group where she regularly receives excellent reviews from residents via the organisation's customer feedback system.

She said: “Although I have never been treated any differently by my team at Together Housing, some of our tenants are surprised when a woman turns up at the door to fix their boiler.

“I have had residents stand over me watching me while I work. I’ve been asked if I know what I’m doing and I’ve been told patronisingly ‘aren’t you clever’. But I don’t get offended, it just makes me more determined to do a good job.”

Ms Riding inspires other women, such as apprentice Lilli Smalley, who followed in her footsteps after meeting her at a college open day.

Miss Smalley said: “Being able to speak to someone already working in a trade role and having a go at practical demonstrations confirmed that that was what I wanted to do.

“It was really helpful to have an honest conversation with Jo about what it’s like as a woman to work in a male dominated industry.”

Winners will be announced on October 10.