Who Are We?
Women in Construction Arts and Technology Ltd, known as WiCAT, is a dynamic organisation run by women for women to promote and support women in non traditional trades.
The project is based at the Endeavour Centre on Earl Marshal Road in Sheffield.
WiCAT runs introductory courses for women in a whole variety of trades and skills that women don't usually have access to. Most classes are run on evenings and weekends to accommodate women with work and family commitments. Some courses are held for men and women, but all classes are taught by skilled and qualified women who have construction industry experience.
The Centre allows women not only to train in the workshop but, where safety allows, gives them the opportunity to undertake real jobs in the development and maintenance of the Centre.
There is a tool library for women who have done courses to borrow tools.
WiCAT also promotes networking events for women working in the trades and holds quarterly networking events for tradeswomen and those training in non traditional trades to meet and support one another.
Garden Classroom Build Project
Over the last 2 weekends WiCAT have built a garden classroom for Endeavour. It didn’t exactly JUST take a couple of weekends. The Autumn was spent preparing the foundations with rubble and concrete.
The first weekend, we constructed the base of the building in blizzard conditions. We were really pleased to see some new faces and despite the weather, they really put some effort in. Some of the new women joining us work in offices, and wanted to do something outdoors and energetic. We certainly helped tick those boxes.
The second weekend was just amazing. From just the base, the building gradually rose from the foundation to an almost complete building on the Saturday. We had some of the same faces back from the previous week, keen to volunteer again especially in wonderful dry weather conditions. Our female volunteers are pretty keen! Once we had all the tools and we had found all the right pieces, the flatpack shed went up in no time at all. We had all the walls up by lunchtime!. The roof took a little bit longer due to the number of ladders and drills we had available. By dusk most of the roof was on and we had some very happy, satisfied women, rightly proud of how much they had achieved in a day.
Our volunteers generally come from Sheffield and the surrounding area, but this weekend we were really lucky to have Imogen come all the way from Cambridge. Imogen has finished her apprentice as a joiner and works for a company as the sole tradeswoman. She came to volunteer with us so that she could meet other like-minded women. It made us all realise how lucky we are to have this group of people that come together regularly. We don’t just teach classes and do great volunteer work together. We form bonds and help each other with knowledge and encouragement. In the near future we are going to be starting regular networking events so that we can foster this feeling of support. Let us know if you would be interested!
The best bit about the day for me, was the camaraderie developing from the previous week and the way that everyone helped each other and worked really well as a team. There were boring bits to do as well as the building work. We had to gather all the pre-cut wood out of the undercroft and figure out which pieces went where. There was a great deal of heavy lifting to do, but everyone helped and our spirits were high, especially as Laura bought home made cupcakes with her both weekends.
As we hadn’t quite finished, Laura came back on Sunday and had a lovely day in the sunshine finishing off the roof and felting it. So a massive shout out to Laura for spending all of her weekend at Endeavour!
Record Number of Women Trade Workers
A recent article in the Mail Online claims that a record number of trade workers including builders and plumbers are now female, accounting for almost 6% of the industry.
There has been a massive increase in the number of women taking up classes in DIY, plastering, tiling, plumbing and other trades - to read the article in full, follow this link
Mandy does it again!
Mandy Reynolds is one of our tutors at Wicat and the chair of our Management Committee. The following article is from the Sheffield Star on 23rd June 2013:
Double success a shock for electrician Mandy Female Electrician Mandy Reynolds from Totley in Sheffield winner of the Which? Local Business of the Year for Yorkshire and Humberside 18 June 2013
Image Paul David Drabble www.pauldaviddrabble.co.uk
Electrician Mandy Reynolds is a bit of a bright spark – she’s just won a top business award for the second time in three years.
The 55-year-old, from Heeley, has been named the region’s best local trader by website Which? Local – based on feedback from her customers.
She won the same accolade in 2011 and went on then to win the national title of Business of the Year.
Mandy said: “I was gobsmacked to win two years ago and I am utterly thrilled to have won again. I have some wonderful customers, who have taken their time to review my business on the website, so it is they I have to thank.”
Mandy is one of a select few – it’s estimated that less than one per cent of electricians in the UK are women. “Women are smart – they’ll choose a career at which they can really succeed,” she said. “and this is a very physical job, you have to lift floorboards and shift stones, so that is an issue – you do need to keep fit. But I don’t think there’s discrimination at work here. “after all if a client doesn’t want to employ a woman then they don’t ring you in the first place – so there’s no way of knowing if I’d be more successful if I was a man, I think I do bring female attributes to the job. We tend to be painstaking, tidier and we show empathy with the customer. And I do get a lot of repeat business.”
Mandy set up her company Mand Made in 2006 after quitting a career in the financial services industry. She found a base at an electrical and hardware shop in Totley, which is run by her husband Paul.
“I had no experience, not even remotely, but I wanted to find a service that would always be in demand, perhaps something to do with homes. Passing the exams only takes a couple of months – it’s then about getting known through word of mouth.”
Mandy’s business was still in its infancy when the recession struck in 2008.
“In a way I’ve never known anything but tough times and I’ve still managed to make a go of it. I do enjoy being my own boss and building the company, and I now have a young woman who is doing her training with me,” Mandy said. “There’s a different sort of stress to that which I experienced before, but now I’m doing it for me, not for someone else where the best I could hope for was a bonus. Now it’s all about seeing the business flourish.”