'Customers would refuse to speak to me because I'm a woman'

PCR Women of the Year Rising Star winner Abbey Bowen talks about gender issues in the PC trade
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PCR Women of the Year Rising Star winner Abbey Bowen has spoken to PCR about working as a woman in the UK PC industry.

Our panel of judges voted Abbey the winner of the Rising Star award at our event two months ago. As a technician for Overclockers UK, she builds some of the top performance systems for the etailer.

"Before this, I worked in Gamestation and that was very male-dominant as well," she told PCR. "So I’ve always got on well with guys and I like to think I can fit in with them quite well, but it’s hard to get the respect.

"For example, we’ve had a couple of new staff, and getting them to understand that I do know what I’m on about is hard."

Before taking on her current role of technician, Abbey worked in sales in Overclockers' bricks and mortar store. 

"It’s harder in sales to be honest," she explained. "When talking to people outside of the industry – that’s where all the issues are. In the past I’ve been on the phone talking to a customer, who asked me: 'Is there a guy I can talk to?'

"Well, excuse me? I know what I’m on about. I find the issues are more with people outside of the company. When I first meet someone in the company, as soon as I’ve shown them that I know what I’m doing – and I think I work pretty hard to be honest – and when people realise that, I get the respect. But it’s hard to get that from people outside the company and outside the business.

"It is frustrating, but I take it more like: 'Well okay, if you don’t think I know what I’m on about, then I’ll show you.' I’m a bit competitive!"

It's not the first time PCR has heard of customers refusing to speak to women in PC sales. One female who works at an independent retailer has, in the past, has been asked by a particular male customer not to repair his PC - just because she's female.

Chips Computers has a female member of staff, and recently told PCR there is 'still sexism' towards women from customers in the PC retail trade.

Abbey went on: "There are some people in the world that just don’t want to listen, unfortunately. So it is frustrating. And it annoys the guys I work with as well. I'll say to them: 'Look guys, there’s nothing I can do – the customer is refusing to talk to me.'

"So it annoys my colleagues, because they have to deal with a customer that refuses to talk to me. So it’s a bit frustrating for everyone, but I try my best and that’s all I can do."

Despite these challenges, Abbey says she finds system building "fantastic" overall.

Read the full interview with Abbey in the upcoming January issue of PCR

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