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“Can you do that?”

Women in technical professions

An apprenticeship in plumbing, a job in construction, a fear of heights, a second apprenticeship in sanitary engineering and now a position in technical service at Geberit. A classic career? Not if you’re a woman.

Cornelia Hüssy likes to laugh. Her cheerful face appears on the screen after she dials in via video telefone from her car. She has a little time on her hands between two appointments with customers and, as it’s raining today, she stays seated in the service van. “Can you really do that?” is a question that Cornelia Hüssy hears a lot. It’s mostly male customers who ask this question. Female customers are more likely to tell Cornelia Hüssy that “it’s so refreshing to see a woman,” or perhaps even “thank God you’re a women; I can talk more openly with you”. Bathrooms are frequently seen as an intimate area.

Blame it on the genes

It’s not as if Cornelia Hüssy hasn’t tried her hand at typically female jobs. Quite the opposite, in fact: “I’ve tried everything,” the 34-year-old remembers, “I’ve worked at a hairdresser’s saloon, in a shoe shop and in nursing care”. But none of this was ever the right fit for her. And, yet, does that really come as any surprise? The daughter of a sanitary and heating installer with his own business in the Berne region in Switzerland, she knew from an early age where she wanted to work: in construction. Her father asked her three times if she was really sure. Yes, she was, which is why she embarked on an apprenticeship in plumbing. “It’s a great profession,” she says, looking back, “but not what I was after”. She hadn’t counted on suffering from a fear of heights.

Second chance: Taken.

She completed her second apprentice as a sanitary technician at her father’s business, spending nine years with the family company and sharing the work with her father: “It wasn’t always easy,” she says with a smile on her face. “After all, you never stop being a daughter. It’s difficult to separate the personal from the professional.” When she moved to an apartment in Brittnau in Switzerland with her partner, the time had come for the next stage of her career: in February 2020, Cornelia Hüssy joined the Geberit Service Team – and, sure enough, she’s the only woman once again.