Big Wipes was very honoured to be invited to the Women Installers Together (WIT) conference on 6 July. Tradeswomen travelled from as far as Scotland and South Cornwall to the venue in Holloway, London to meet with their peers. So many inspiring women attended this conference, some running their own businesses, others just getting started with their training.
Why Women Installers Together (WIT) conference?
The annual conference is the brainchild of Hattie Hasan MBE of Stopcocks Women Plumbers. She wanted to bring tradeswomen from across the country (and the world!) together. With women in skilled trades only making up around 1% of all tradespeople, this event is the only opportunity for many to meet others who share their unique experiences. Almost a quarter of all women (22% according to a recent survey) would be interested in a career in skilled trades. For a variety of reasons however, this is not translating into numbers in the industry. Furthermore, attrition is often high.
The WIT conference is the only event of its kind and gives tradeswomen a rare opportunity to meet and talk with their peers. It also provides an invaluable opportunity to network with manufacturers and get involved in lively conversations about the growing industry.
What did the 2022 conference have in store?
After a relaxed start with a continental breakfast and time to chat with new and old faces, the morning started with a talk by the MC, Hattie Hasan MBE. She particularly focussed on Imposter Syndrome and the recognition that it is something we all experience. She highlighted how it manifests itself and gave advice on the ways to manage it.
Hattie’s talk was followed by round table discussions, during which the delegates raised their day-to-day issues and concerns. Challenges identified included equality, pay inequality, cost of training, ‘banter’, lack of fit-for-purpose women’s workwear and lack of suitable provision for women onsite (eg: toilets, sani-bins etc).
The ever-popular ‘Five Minutes of Fame’, where tradeswomen talk about their lives, also made a comeback. In this feature, volunteers shared their own personal challenges, experiences – and triumphs.
The much anticipated raffle followed, with loads of fantastic prizes (including Big Wipes!) donated by partners, sponsors and supporters. Finally, the event finished with the usual photo of participants and for many, a visit to the pub with new and old friends.
Mandy Hickson champions Women Installers Together
A personal highlight of the WIT conference was the keynote by Royal Air Force pilot turned motivational speaker, Mandy Hickson. The only female pilot on her Front Line Tornado Squadron, she has operated in extremely hostile environments.
With unyielding determination, Mandy has overcome great hurdles in her career. These experiences have driven her to share lessons in leadership and co-found ‘Inspiring Women for Work’. This is an organisation that helps women rebuild the confidence that they need to return to work and realise their full potential after a career break. Mandy also recently published a book ‘An Officer, Not a Gentleman’ (which most of us immediately bought). The book further emphasises her journey as a female in a male-dominated profession.
“Mandy’s story is quite literally, breath-taking. Amazingly, she was one of the first women fast jet fighter pilots – a true pioneer. As I listened to her, I realised I had actually stopped breathing!”, Hattie Hasan effused, echoing the sentiments of the entire room. “Her keynote was both extremely professional and personal, making her an exceptionally motivational speaker.”
WIT 2022 was the best so far
In spite of Covid cancellations causing a lower turnout than expected, the London 2022 event was the best so far.
“The fantastic positive atmosphere more than filled the room! Everyone said what a great event it was”, enthused organiser from Stopcocks Women Plumbers, Mica May. “It was a fantastic day and everyone I chatted to said that they enjoyed it thoroughly.”
Hattie Hasan MBE said: “This was our first full event since lockdown. To be in a room together and feel the energy in the room was just great. We set ourselves very high goals with these events and this time we really feel we’ve achieved them. We can build on this momentum now, thanks to the fantastic support of our sponsors and allies.”
“We’re committed to increasing our visibility and improving conditions for tradeswomen within the industry as a whole. We want to meet and join with plumbers, gas engineers and all other tradeswomen and businesses who share our vision. Additionally, if you’re a woman on the tools you can meet other tradeswomen and trainees all year round. Just join our friendly and supportive Facebook Groups – Female Plumbers and Heating Engineers UK – Tradeswomen UK and Female Electricians UK”, Hattie concluded.