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Now more than ever, our industry has been making important strides in female representation, and this has been tackled by some of our industry leaders who are especially known for connecting the dots of plumbing education. For example, for the past few years, ASA Women in Industry has become a more focal player in providing a space for women to network, mentor and discuss ideas on leadership, personal development and more.
Plumbing Engineer and its sister publication, PHC News, have also made a point to highlight these barrier breakers throughout the industry with the series Industry Leading Ladies.
In any case, women in the industry is a topic that will continue to gain traction as young women venture outside more traditional careers and into more technical ones such as plumbing design and engineering.
ASPE has followed suit; in 2014, the ASPE Board of Directors recognized the disproportionate number of female members and decided to form a special interest group and make it one of the main initiatives for the society.
“The board believes the voice of the woman of ASPE is needed, and also more women in leadership roles in the society is needed,” said ASPE Director of Membership & Meetings, Stacey Kidd.
Last year, ASPE began the process of establishing this special interest group. They sent an email to women members of the society explaining the initiative as well as seeking participation for focus groups. The focus groups were to gauge these women’s thoughts on the formation of the group. They were also asked questions about the direction they would like to see and the structure the group would take.
It’s important to ASPE that this group not make male peers feel excluded, or that this is a group outside or separate from ASPE. The group will continue to iterate its methods of empowerment and inclusion in the professional space.
After the focus groups, the information was presented to the board, and staff began the process of choosing leadership and members. The chair of the committee made sure to have equal representation of members’ regions, backgrounds, age groups and experience.
“Each interested party was asked to fill out a questionnaire that asked a range of questions,” Kidd explained. “The response from the ladies was overwhelming. So much so, staff had to start turning members away after a certain time frame.”
Introducing Women of ASPE (WOA)
The core mission of the Women of ASPE (WOA) is to “engage, retain and advance women in the plumbing design industry, through education, leadership development and networking opportunities.”
Throughout 2016 it is within WOA’s initiatives to develop a mentor program, provide educational and leadership development opportunities, and provide membership outreach to high school and college level students. The official launch of this group will take place at ASPE’s Women Leadership Forum during the 2016 Convention and Exposition.
ASPE’s Mentorship program, which is available to all members of the society (women and men), aims to connect ASPE members who have a particular skill set with individuals who seek to acquire these skills and make progress toward their personal and professional goals.
The group is excited to debut at the ASPE 2016, held at the Phoenix Convention Center in Phoenix, Arizona.
“You can expect to see women at the Inaugural Leadership Forum who are leaders in the society and on their jobs,” Kidd said. “Also, they are women who are willing to step up and be the voice of women in the society and are eager to work toward the mission of growing the female population of the society. This group is important because they are part of the future, leadership and longevity of the society.”
Kidd, who was chosen as WOA’s liaison, harbors great confidence in the program’s intended outreach.
I am confident that as a result of the this newly formed special interest group, we will see an increase in our membership as well as more women stepping into leadership roles of the society,” Kidd said.