PE reader, Gerard Honey responds to ‘Little Miss Electrical’ Feature.
I would like to reflect in a personal way on the article about Cathleen Cockin in the June edition of the magazine. The feature I refer to covered the running of her business ‘Little Miss Electrical’.
Having worked for many years as an on site Assessor and later as a Qualification Consultant (formerly External Verifier) in the development of the electronic security systems sector frameworks 1853 /2882 which led to the new Trailblazer scheme, I was tasked with encouraging females to enter the industry. I found that females who took the official awarding bodies training programme always performed well. I can also say that in general, girls who took the industry accredited courses, both classroom-based and e-learning achieved good results. So, for sure, women can do well in the electrical sector because there is a role for them to play which can be no less than that of their male counterparts. Therefore I was most impressed by what Cathleen was offering.
I am more or less retired now and my experiences show me that most choices are not black and white – they are more colourful than that. Cathleen will meet obstacles. In interviews I found some ladies who want electrical work done in the residential area felt more confident in offering the old school of men particular jobs rather than giving it to girls – despite being very comfortable in the presence of the latter. On the other hand, some ladies did like the idea of dealing with other females. However, we know that some men will simply never give females an opportunity to work in their homes. They also insist you can’t get proper doctors anymore.
At the end of the day its horses for courses and often a need for compromise. The main issues within our profession must revolve around the actual type and extent of the work required and the qualifications needed for the tasks. So time will tell, but it may be found there could be a need to play down the prominent image of it being a truly female business and to just illustrate a high degree of female input within the company structure. This would show the electrical industry does not have distinct or separate identities for the genders but all roles must exist for all. Yet it would still show the business as being very progressive with a diverse structure and offering wide appeal to a broader customer network.
These are my personal reflections based on speaking to many parties over there years and witnessing developments and progression in the electronic security systems sector. I am very encouraged by Cathleen and the other females in the industry. Perhaps the magazine can keep us posted as to how things evolve for them in the long term.