Plumber Hattie Hasan rewarded with an MBE

Plumber Hattie Hasan rewarded with an MBE

Plumber Hattie Hasan is on a mission to help women pursue a career in the trades and has been rewarded with an MBE for her endeavours. Professional Builder’s Lee Jones reports.

“I’ve been inspired to help other women because of my own experiences,” declares the West Yorkshire-based plumber and proprietor of Stopcocks Women Plumber. “Our ambition is to encourage women to feel empowered to set up business in a fulfilling profession, and break down some of the barriers that exist to entry.”

Female participation in the trades is still relatively rare today but back in the early ‘90s, when Hattie Hasan, moved from a teaching career to train as a plumber, she was one of an even more select few. “When I was at school, girls weren’t directed towards the practical skills, like wood and metal working,” she recalls, “but they had always appealed to me. When I enrolled on an evening class in plumbing I found that I loved it. It’s the satisfaction of fixing and making things with your hands, combined with being able to solve a problem for a homeowner that I find very rewarding.”

Hattie would subsequently relocate from her native north London to the white rose county, and completed a course at the Leeds College of Building. “Even though I was the only woman at the college, my experiences there were great, but when I left I just couldn’t find anyone to employ me. When I applied for a position I even had people assuming that I was enquiring about work for my son or my husband, and it was then that I decided to set up on my own, and that’s how Stopcocks as a company came into being.”

“Our ambition is to encourage women to feel empowered to set up business in a fulfilling profession, and break down some of the barriers that exist to entry.”

Although Hattie’s firm has since developed into a thriving plumbing business in its own right, its ethos goes far beyond a sole trader operation, as its proprietor explains: “I was actually being approached by other women for guidance, and I decided I needed to do something about it. As a result, Stopcocks is now a franchise that is dedicated to supporting and encouraging women to become self-employed tradespeople. Over the years we’ve helped dozens of individuals to do just that and have recently structured the initiative so that we have a maximum of five franchisees on board at any one time. That way we can ensure we have the time and resources to give each person the backing they deserve.”

“It’s a proactive community where women help each other. For example, we often pair plumbers up with others that have more experience. They then support one another and can take on bigger jobs too. Alongside that we’ve set up the Register of Tradeswomen, which launches on March 1st. It seeks to promote the women who are already operating in the trades, and we have organised our own event, Women Installers Together, an initiative which is already being supported by industry. The aim is to create a growing network of tradeswomen who can communicate with each other whilst also encouraging wider female involvement.”

Whilst Hattie is dedicated to championing the role of women in the industry, she is at pains to stress that it is not in competition with, or as a challenge to, men. “I’m a great believer in balance,” she reveals, “and having a more equal distribution of men and women in any industry, not just plumbing, will always change its culture for the better. Of course, we’re also in a skills crisis, and increasing the number of women would open up a wider pool of new entrants.”

We asked Hattie what more can be done to encourage other women to become tradespeople? “It’s inevitably going to be a slow process but the only thing that will change mindsets is visibility, and that’s going to need role models. Although I’m still considered a novelty, that is changing, and the more women that are doing these jobs the more that it will become accepted, not just amongst the general public but with young people who are deciding what they want to do with their lives – and their teachers and parents. That’s really the principle behind Stopcocks Women Plumbers – we want to make a meaningful difference to the lives of women who might assume that certain paths are closed to them. To have the courage to do that you need to be able to communicate with people who have had similar experiences to you, and that’s what we want to facilitate.”

For further information on Stopcocks Women Plumbers visit

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