Jay Bowden, Civil Enforcement Officer at EDDC
Jay Bowden, Civil Enforcement Officer at EDDC

Having a smiley face is the key to success, says East Devon District Council’s (EDDC) only female civil enforcement officer - Jay Bowden.

To mark International Women's Day (March 8th), EDDC is releasing features on women working in male-dominated industries to highlight the challenges they face and show how everyone can promote equality.

About Jay’s Role:

Jay joined EDDC six years ago and works as a civil enforcement officer (a new title for traffic wardens) in a team of five. Before this, Jay worked as a nurse in the NHS and military before going into the police force for 15 years as a PCSO. Jay works in a team of five where she is the only woman. Her job involves visiting EDDC’s car parks and checking drivers have paid for parking tickets or permits, that vehicles are parked correctly (inside the lines), and that ticket machines are working. Jay’s main goal is to help the public and make towns nice for residents, controlling tourist behaviour and educating people to park with consideration. Giving tickets out is a last resort. Jay travels around 45 to 80 miles a day carrying out her checks in various towns, which she normally returns to two to three times a day. On average, Jay will issue three to five fixed penalty notices a day, although in the summer, it can be as much as 20 in one day.

She said: “Before anyone asks, we are not paid on commission, and we do allow a ten-minute grace period. My job also involves educating the public that they can appeal their tickets too.

What Is It Like Working in a Traditional Male-Dominated Environment?

“I’m treated exactly how I treat my team with cheekiness and human kindness. We also all look out for each other. One of the chaps makes sure to ring me every day to make sure I am okay on shift, and that feels awesome. My team leader and manager are always on hand and never uncontactable. I’m never afraid to say I don’t know what I’m doing sometimes or to ask for advice; I think that is a bad habit to have; everyone should always be up for learning.”

What Challenges Do You Think Women Tend to Face in the Workplace?

“It is very rare to get a disgruntled member of the public after giving them a ticket. Sometimes people may try to be belittling, tossing comments like ‘get a proper job’ around. However, I am extremely well looked after by my team and manager. Most of the time, members of the public hold their hands up and know they shouldn’t have parked there; normally, they are apologetic. The majority hold their hands up. Every action has an equal reaction, both positive and negative. So being able to stay calm and having a good, cheery attitude is important in my job.

What Support Do You Think Other People and People’s Teams Can Do to Promote Equality?

It is all about having integrity. EDDC is probably the nicest place I have worked for. I enjoy getting up for work every day. If you need help, we can give you some. There’s nothing more EDDC could do for me in my role. If I am not well, my managers reassure me not to feel guilty. If I have a family problem, my team and managers are happy to swap shifts.

What Advice Would You Give to Someone Thinking About Doing Your Role?

Go for it. The job involves lots of training which will give you the tools you need, like conflict training, first aid training as well as career training. The interview process is very good at working out if you have the right personality for the job. People love seeing a smiley face, and I hear that from someone every day.

How Can We Encourage More Women into This Career?

Women need to not be frightened about taking on a job where it is predominantly male; don’t feel intimidated about applying for a role like mine.