Abilene woman takes on ‘man’s job’

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ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – An Abilene woman is taking on what most would call a man’s job: plumber.

She’s worked her way up, recently passing the Texas State Board of Plumbing exam. Now she’s the only licensed woman journeyman in Abilene, and she’s not stopping there.

Seven years ago, Andrea Harden was just trying to find a job.

“I was kind of in a rough patch. I didn’t know what I wanted to do. I had a daughter, you know, I was just kind of figuring things out,” Harden says.

And the job she found is not one many women even think to pursue.

“‘You’re going to be a plumber? That’s a man’s job.’ It’s not, I can do just as much as they can do.”

Hiring her as a dispatcher, Midway Plumbing Owner David Ratliff says it didn’t take long for Harden to work her way through the pipeline.

“Noticed right off the bat she had great work ethic and by far was the best multitasker I’ve ever met in my life,” Ratliff says.

Now learning the ins and outs of the trade, Harden is the first female licensed journeyman for Midway and the only one in Abilene.

“I’ve grown so much just learning the trade and I mean plumbing is never going to go away,” Harden says.

But the end goal isn’t just to be out in the field.

“Hopefully at some point she’ll become a partner,” Ratliff says.

“Having a mentor like David Ratliff has changed my life for the better. Um oh, wow, emotional,” Harden says.

Proving the best things can come out of unexpected places.

“I’m building a home right now. Me and my fiance are building a home and it would not be possible without this company teaching me to have bigger, better goals for myself,” Harden says.

Harden is continuing her training to get her master plumbing license and may eventually become partner in the company.

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