Hattie mentoring Petra while she got her Gas Safes
Hattie mentoring Petra while she got her Gas Safes

Stopcocks Women Plumbers licencees receive phone and on-site mentoring as part of the service. Mica May; Co-Director explains why this is so important.

“It’s very different when you’re in such a tiny minority”. Female plumbers and other women in trades know that when you are one of a tiny number of you, you stick out like a sore thumb.

You’re seen and noticed in a way that people who are ‘the norm’ do not.

Although there are no official figures, trades women are estimated to be between 0.1% and 2% of all people working in skilled trades in UK (possibly fewer in Scotland), but judging from media coverage there are many more of them.

Each trades woman knows that whatever she does will be seen, noticed and remembered, so she has to be perfect.

Example; back in 2008 there was a female plumber who didn’t do a great job – not a bad job, just the sort of average job male plumbers do all the time – this was reported on in the Daily Mail and still appears in every Google search years later.

In our experience, female plumbers bend over backwards to do the best job, provide the best service and all at the best price, but this sole example of a woman plumber being average is there on Google at around number 3 or 4.

Knowing that whatever they do will be scrutinised is just one of the difficulties facing women in skilled trades and forcing them into impossible expectations of perfection.

Most trades women have had little encouragement from friends and family, even though, once they have gained their skills they are expected to carry out all their circle’s DIY and construction work for nothing. They’re probably familiar with the statement “You can fix my dirty smelly toilet if you like”. Unlike other mortals they’re expected to treasure the opportunity to plunge their hands into other people’s poo for no money and small thanks, it’s a favour really to allow them to do this.

Many women have not had the opportunity to use tools as children, even if they want to. How come, even now the toy tool benches are very firmly in the blue aisle in the vast majority of toy shops. This means that as far as they are concerned, their interest remains theory, they’ve had almost no chance to practice before they get to college.

And if they ask friends and relatives to let them swap taps or do other jobs to gain skills, they’re often met with a blank stare or a laugh “Hahaha, you? No way!” such expressions of confidence do little to encourage the budding tradeswoman.

Then there’s the difficulty gaining placements that I shan’t even go into now but if you’re interested in reading about it go here https://www.stopcocks.uk/plumber-training-confusion/.

All the reasons above are why women especially welcome the chance to be mentored in their chosen trade. Mentoring enables our licencees to go out and complete jobs with the full confidence of the backing of someone very experienced even while the newer tradeswoman takes full responsibility for the work herself. This is the best way to build skills and confidence. Mentoring means the tradeswoman can discuss what she’s likely to encounter before she arrives at a job, questions to ask the customer so that she can get a full picture of what’s going on, which tools to take along or which parts she’s likely to need and even when she is already highly competent and just needs to talk the job through and come up with the best solution. Except for when she’s tackling a large job beyond her current competence and a more experienced tradeswoman is leading the work our mentoring allows her to lead and learn. When she’s working with someone more experienced on-site she may be learning new skills, how to adapt current skills ( more usual) or learning how to plan and co-ordinate the job.

Having backup builds confidence and in pour experience (since 1990) this, more than the competence to complete the work beautifully is what women in trades lack.

For information about joining Stopcocks as a licencee – open to plumbers and other tradeswomen email mica@stopcocks.uk

 

The Importance of Mentoring
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