Member Article

IWD 2022 - Personal development “key to narrowing the gender gap”

A Leeds-based business owner is calling on more women to become involved in the manufacturing sector this International Women’s Day.

Last month (Feb) Trust Electric Heating’s managing director, Fiona Conor joined West Yorkshire’s first-ever Manufacturing Task Force. Now, Fiona, who already has two female apprentices in her team, wants other women to throw themselves into the industry.

Fiona explains that the heating sector, in particular, suffers from deep gender inequality. For example, figures from the Heating and Hot Water Council show that only 0.4% of current gas engineers are female and, despite national increases in apprenticeships, the figures from the construction sector are at the same level they were in 2009/10.

Said Fiona:

I have only ever met one other woman who is a managing director in this industry and actually our main competitors (in the modern storage heating market) are all male. When I go to do quotes or visit clients such as universities, you normally find that the electricians are all male. Not that there aren’t women electricians, because there are, however, due to this, most customers and clients were surprised when I turned up to demo the radiators.

Fiona added:

I think the most challenging thing is when I have conversations with men who don’t think I know what I’m doing. Yesterday, we were having a conversation and a man came to give us information about a boiler and said ‘shall I speak to your husband?’ Like I didn’t know what I was doing, because I’m a girl.

Despite this, Fiona thinks there are great strides being made to promote women’s career opportunities in her industry.

There are a lot of female networks and there’s a lot of innovation for entrepreneurial women but I don’t really put myself in that arena because I like to network with everybody.

At the end of the day, you’ve simply got to be skilled. You shouldn’t have to get somewhere just because you’re a man or a woman, it should be – are you the best person for the job? However, sometimes there aren’t enough opportunities for women to make themselves heard.

Fiona says the key to narrowing the gender gap in her industry is self-betterment.

She concluded:

I really believe in personal development, you can go to work and pick training or anything up, but I actually think if you want to move on in life, then you’ve got to be accountable for your own progression and go and develop yourself.

I’m 51 and I still spend an awful amount of time on training, on developing, joining networking groups and learning. I always strive to learn something new everyday that is going to shape the future of the industry.

Ends

This was posted in Bdaily's Members' News section by Mac Watson .

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