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These are some of the questions we are most frequently asked about our business and about women in the plumbing/construction industry. Contact us for more details or to arrange comment/interview firstname.lastname@example.org or call us on 07710 562089
Stopcocks is a national franchise of women plumbers (the only known one of its kind, in the world) with a mission to create successful female plumbing businesses all over the UK, and beyond.
1990 – Stopcocks Woman Plumber was founded by Hattie Hasan because, despite her qualifications, aptitude and skills, she was unable to get a job as a plumber. Hattie’s business was highly successful but she wanted to achieve something more.
2006 – Hattie created Stopcocks’ first website. Immediately she started receiving emails from women who wanted to become plumbers and were finding many obstacles in their paths.
2010 – Because plumbing had been her route to a self-determined life, Hattie published The Joy of Plumbing; a guide to living the life you really Really want https://www.amazon.co.uk/d/Books/Joy-Plumbing-Guide-Living-Life-Really-Want/1907722092
2011 – Stopcocks Women Plumbers launched to help other women become plumbers and to enable customers to find a great woman plumber in their area.
2012 – 2016 – This period was spent helping women to become fully qualified as plumbers and building the Stopcocks’ name.
2017 – Launch of Stopcocks Women Plumbers Franchise and first Women Installers Together conference
For information about WIT Conferences please go to Women Installers Together
Based on what many of our customers tell us, we believe they are not receiving basic respect from tradespeople who visit their homes. Nobody likes great big dirty boots all over their carpet! Nor do we want tradespeople who patronise us, play loud music, thoughtlessly make themselves at home in our space, and make us feel uncomfortable or unsafe.
When you let a Stopcocks Women plumber into your home you can rest assured that she will treat your property and your time with respect. She will listen to you, explain the problem and her solution clearly and answer your questions, without making assumptions or talking down to you.
Excellent customer service is an integral part of our service.
It’s often said that women feel they have to be at least twice as good to be considered as able as their male counterparts. Women bring the same level of technical skill as men but they also bring something extra. In our (still culturally strong) training to become mothers, women are trained to look after people when they are stressed – and having plumbing work carried out in your home can be stressful. Women plumbers recognise the importance of paying attention to detail, carrying out work precisely and effective communication – so that customers understand what is being done and why.
When women become plumbers, in addition to their skills for motherhood, they add ‘dad skills’ to this – being strong, capable and solution focussed, and ‘fixing stuff’.
So women plumbers bring a combination of Mother and Father archetypes into our home – in essence, they have all the traits of a superhero!
Women Installers Together Conferences are also addressing some of the industry issues around the ‘skills gap’. We believe that making the industry attractive and welcoming to women will increase its attractiveness to everyone, making it more a aspirational industry to work in.
Err yeah! Anyone who can carry a baby or toddler around while they also carrying shopping is definitely strong enough to be a plumber. And in addition, women learn to be problem solvers (possibly because they grow up being told they’re not as strong as men) and to find practical ways round a situation, rather than relying on ‘brawn’. Which means that a woman is less likely to ‘put her back out’ in your house trying to lift something heavy.
And when we’re asked questions about whether women will ‘mind’ such a dirty job as plumbing – again we point to motherhood.
Unfortunately, nobody currently gathers this data but the estimate is that one in every hundred plumbers is a woman. And that there are around 500 (out of 100,000) gas engineers.
This seems to have changed very little over the last 20 years. We think not because women don’t come into the industry, but because they don’t stay!
Stopcocks has enabled at least 30 women to qualify as plumbers since 2012. Many have gone on to jobs. Stopcocks currently has franchisees covering South/West/Central London, Oldham/Saddleworth, Calder Valley, St Albans and Weymouth. We are always keen to recruit more women.
We know from what our customers tell us that they love female plumbers. They come back to us again and again and happily refer us to friends, family and colleagues. But plumbing is still seen as a ‘male industry’ and women who are interested in becoming plumbers often face a great deal of discouragement and discrimination. We’ve had men write to tell us that women just aren’t suited for plumbing because they will cry if they break a nail! (and much worse than this!)
Finding training is difficult enough (information is all biased towards the need of male school leavers) and women and girls who succeed in finding places often experience discrimination and even bullying while they are learning. After this, many women find it exceptionally difficult to secure a placement (in order to fully qualify) in the business, because many male-led companies are reluctant to employ them or send them out to work with customers. Which is ironic really, given how many customers tell us that they’d love to have a woman plumber working in their home…
The difficulties women and girls experience gaining placements and apprenticeships is not only down to sexism. The vast majority of plumbing companies, especially those concentrating on domestic work, are very small and simply cannot ‘absorb’ trainees who are unable to contribute to the businesses income, even if there is someone working there with teaching skills. It’s our opinion that this contributes to the inadequate numbers of qualified plumbers and also to the work practises being passed on to many new plumbers.
But there are also many practical issues which hinder women from getting a foothold in the industry. It is extremely difficult to get steel toe capped work boots and gloves in sizes small enough for many women (and these are a safety requirement for training and many manual jobs). There is even often a lack of adequate toilet facilities for women in the workplace and on building sites.
We have franchise pages that describe our process and requirements to join our Business Incubator Scheme.
We’ve had a strong connection with the International Peace Initiatives (IPI) and Kithoka Amani Community children’s Home (KACH) in Meru County, Kenya for many years.
In October 2015 Hattie Hasan, Stopcocks’ founder, travelled to Meru County (all self-funded) and worked with members of the community in Kithoka, particularly several women. She collaborated with them to devise and create a rainwater harvesting system using cheap, easily available materials and simple, sustainable methods. This system now harvests 40,000 litres of rain a year, halving the cost of the homes’ water bills.
Hattie maintains a connection with KACH and also IPI (which set up KACH) Stopcocks are now developing connections with Plumbers Without Borders, a global organisation which matches volunteer plumbers and water projects.
Stopcocks are collaborating with iFundi in Nairobi to improve the standards, training and reputation of plumbers.
For more details and to arrange comment or interview contact us email@example.com or call Mica on 07706 763883