1 a: the state of being a sister
b: sisterly relationship
2 : a community or society of sisters
3 : a solidarity based on shared conditions, experiences or concerns
4 : the state of kinship of being sisters
5 : the quality of being sisterly, sisterly companionship
What we have come to know as #SurveyingSisterhood came to life on 8th March 2018 after Kirsty Harvey (@ktdsurveying) tweeted a selfie for International Women’s Day to showcase surveyors who also happen to be women. It was inspired.
She invited Amanda Clack, Natasha Collins, Olga Turner, Courtney Donaldson, Joanna Farnsworth (@mrsfqs) and myself (@camsparkle) to join in. I remember that Joanna was quick off the mark and posted a photo almost immediately and she invited Elina Grigoriou, Jess Tabibi and Natasha Stone (@N_Stone_) to follow.
I was sat in the front row at the For Her Conference in Norwich and sneaked a selfie and in turn invited Victoria Richardson, Samantha Organ, Emily Hayden, Amie Walsh, Iona the Surveyor, Louise Archer and Amy Leader to join in. Before long we knew we’d created something, for me it was an immediate sense of belonging.
It was Joanna who first coined the #tag and Natasha that rallied us behind it. What we found in each other was a shared desire to celebrate, support, mentor and raise each other up. It is about being authentic and bringing your whole self to the profession not just what you think is expected.
Whilst it started on International Women’s Day we quickly realised it is about more than our gender, what brought us together was a shared sense of inclusivity, about being a sister to ALL. No matter who they are or where they are. For me the landscape changed on 8th March 2018.
As a graduate surveyor, 21 years ago, I had limited access to a surveying role model let alone a female surveying role model in my reach – I remember the ultra-competitive one and a returner who wasn’t invested in helping me gaining experience for my APC despite being my direct line manager. No role model. No ally or sponsor. I never felt that I truly fit in or belonged and I fought every step of the way to get to where I am now.
My support network had always come from outside my profession – my brilliant parents, my friend who nominated me for a company award, the talent team that believed I could make a difference with helping APC candidates and nominated me for another company award, my clients, but never my managers or leaders or more disappointingly my fellow surveyors.
Everything changed for me in 2010. I had a brush with death. It’s funny but facing your mortality really does give you a new lease of life and the strength I found in myself after beating cancer changed me. If I couldn’t see a visible role model in my immediate network, I would be one. My mum calls this ‘making up for lost time’. I would bring my whole self, my unwavering optimism and idealism, my sense of duty, my belief that we rise by lifting others up, I would use my voice to become the change I wanted to see not just for me but everyone that comes after me.
So, when I found myself on Twitter nodding vigorously with my new-found allies. I knew I had found my tribe. I knew it would amplify my voice as I could amplify other people’s voices. I learned that my network had no boundaries and I could extend my reach to help more people who, like me, had found themselves struggling and needing to reach out.
The #SurveyingSisterhood was the final missing piece for me. I didn’t really know it was missing until it was there in front of me, because I had been fighting to be seen and heard my whole career.
Now, together we could celebrate surveyors, increase our visibility, raise the profile of the profession we love but to help inspire the next generation to also love it. Together we can act to make a positive change, bring a sense of kinship to everything that we do. We are in this together.
Our profession binds us together. We are family. I can’t wait to see what comes next.
Surveyor and Sister to all