Proud to be a plumber…and something else

People can barely understand who Hattie Hasan is and how many things she does. She is not merely a plumber, but an entrepreneur, an equal rights promoter, a mentor, a book author, a comedienne. And – hear ye, hear ye – she is a psychology graduate. Yes, a plumber with a degree in psychology – how cool is that?!

After studying 4 years to become a qualified plumber, Hattie established the Stopcocks Women Plumbers, a national organisation of female plumbers with headquarters in Todmorden, West Yorkshire. “I work to promote female plumbers nationally, within the industry, to customers, in my national plumbing company,” says a proud Hattie.

Over the years she and her company have become known and this has allowed them to choose more freely their tasks: “I usually fit bathrooms and install boilers. I don’t have to do a great deal of small jobs because I am well established and well known and can pick and choose what I do. I rarely have to fix toilets or do nasty jobs like that.”

The company gained such a great reputation that customers greatly respect Hattie’s work, and sometimes they show it her in unusual and odd ways. “One day”, says Hattie, “a car drove by me as I walked through town. The people leaned out of the window and shouted ‘That shower you fitted was the best thing we’ve ever had done in our house – Thank you, Hattie!'”

However, there is no a typical day in the life of this independent woman who loves water and finding solutions. In fact, she divides herself between plumbing and other different stuff. In particular, Hattie has been focusing on promoting and encouraging women doing job as a plumber. She has recently spoken to minister for women and equalities Nicky Morgan about “the difficulties women and girls encounter in becoming plumbers” and is embarking “on talks with the Government Equalities Officer responsible for STEM – Science, Technology, Engineering, Maths to look at this further”.

Indeed, although an increasingly number of women have started to work as plumbers in the UK, the percentage of them is “still just 0.4% and one of the main reasons for this is sexism and resistance to change within the industry,” Hattie explains. Those women who want to start working in this field have to cope with a difficult reality. Every aspiring plumber has to complete a long training before being fully operative. But the sector is mainly composed by male workers who are uncooperative, and uninterested in helping a female trainee. “They will not support women to complete their training – we have to complete a lot of work in the field under the supervision of a fully qualified and experienced plumber,” Hattie says. Sadly there is just a minority of male plumbers who are supportive.

Over last years, the 53-year-old plumber, among many other things, has published a book centitled The Joy of Plumbing and staged her one-woman comedy called Plumbing The Depths at Edinburgh Festival Fringe. But she is not satisfied yet. This year she and her Stopcocks workmates will go to Kenya to help “women there to take control of their water supplies.” And we can bet this will not be her last challenge.

February 2015.
A thanks goes to Mica May of Stopcocks Women Plumbers.

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