Women's International Stone Alliance
Established in early 2020, WISA spent most of last year connecting online to women in stone trades across the globe. Input was gathered from almost 150 women in 12 countries, which will help guide our plans for the year ahead.
The response to the establishment of WISA has been extremely positive, with women, men and stone organisations alike acknowledging the need for such a forum. The support of men in the stone trades, who’ve helped educate their peers about the need for an organisation like WISA, has been particularly encouraging.
Results from our recent survey show that WISA’s aims are strongly supported by women with over 96% in agreement with the following:
Raise the profile of women
Encourage and inspire
Advocate across relevant industries
Run conferences and events
Feedback indicates that the top priorities for women are: the promotion of women’s contribution to the trades; to encourage others and create mentoring opportunities; to network and build a community.
The large number of both dry stone wallers and carvers/sculptors enabled a comparison of priorities across these trades with only minor differences noted. Both groups see promoting women as the most important area to focus on, as well as mentoring. Sculptors and carvers then saw women centred training as the next most significant priority, for dry stone wallers it was networking locally and online, followed by women centred training.
Other groups who responded to the survey included women working in building conservation and also in the area of academic research. We were pleased too at hearing from women who are simply interested and enthusiastic to learn more about the stone trades.
As with all information gathering exercises some of the most valuable information came from comments, rather than just responses to set questions. While there was recognition of the need for women only activities, there were also comments stating the importance of inclusion and working with men in the trades, a view WISA strongly supports, as working together we can make a real difference.
Other possible areas of work for WISA that have been suggested include: creating a platform for sharing knowledge and ideas; training and information on legal issues/contracts etc; researching and documenting women’s involvement in the stone trades; webinars on tools and gadgets that can assist, and raising awareness of the opportunities available.
One of the positive aspects to come out of COVID19 has been the recognition of opportunities for working collaboratively online. We intend to focus on networking, education, sharing ideas and much more.
With always more to learn, we are keen to ensure in these early days that we continue to gather and reflect a more complete picture of the views of women in the field.
To have so many women walking alongside us, and organisations keen to partner and work collaboratively, is heartening. It enables us to look towards extending the Founding group, to make it more diverse and representative, with the passion, time and skills to take WISA to the next level. We will be contacting those who have offered to assist shortly, and will be updating the website soon with information on all the Founding members.
As and when we can travel internationally again, we plan to carry out women-led workshops and events, including the building of a series of special edifices. Designed by master craftsman David Griffiths, the series celebrates the strengths and capabilities of women in a culturally specific way. These are to be built in various locations worldwide, including Australia and Ireland. The collection is named in honour of Mary Wollstonecraft and is sponsored by Stone of Arc.
With significant numbers offering direct support to WISA, and a breadth of skills and interests now available, we are excited about the opportunities and possibilities ahead.
We want to thank everyone who took part in our survey, and those who supported us in making a strong beginning.
Special thanks to Wendy Gillett for her skills as co-ordinator.
To connect with us or for more information, please visit our website at www.womenstonealliance.com
Emma Knowles CoConvenor
Louise Price CoConvenor