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An exciting new initiative has been launched aimed at supporting females in the Australian pest control industry. 

Nicky Turner, Founder, Professional Women in Australian Pest Management

Once perceived as a non- traditional career for women, the number of women in Australian pest management has increased significantly in recent years. Employment opportunities for women in the industry have expanded to include roles such as customer service representatives, field technicians, marketing managers, senior managers and leaders.

Professional Women in Australian Pest Management (PWAPM) is a newly formed association that aims to represent professional women in our industry. PWAPM creates opportunities for women to connect and engage both online and face to face, through an active Facebook group and website, and through social events and professional workshops. At an industry level, PWAPM acts as the ‘voice’ of women in pest management.

Since launching in November 2018, PWAPM has successfully secured the support of some of our industry suppliers and associations, including Agserv, Rapid Solutions, BASF, Sherwood Chemicals, AEPMA andProfessional Pest Manager magazine. Membership is $150 per business (covering all women within the business) or $90 per individual and is open to all women who are associated with the industry in any shape or form.

Now is the perfect time to launch PWAPM, as we see our industry entering a period of significant technical advancement and achieving higher levels of professionalism than ever before. The bar is continually being raised by our female industry leaders.

Inspiration for change

How did the idea for PWAPM come about? It was while attending the PestWorld 2018 conference in Orlando, USA. I had the opportunity to be part of the American association known as Professional Women in Pest Management (PWIPM). I was impressed by the professionalism and dedication of the association, as well as the level of sponsorship and support the group received from US industry suppliers.

Returning from Orlando, I was determined to do more to improve our talent pipeline and provide an avenue for women to support each other. I found there was a gap in the Australian pest industry – no support group or networking opportunities seemed to exist for women. My trip to the US inspired me to create an association of like-minded women in our industry here in Australia.

The aim of PWAPM is to offer women an effective way to meet valuable contacts and share ideas, while also providing a space for gender equality to be discussed without judgement.

Empowering women, working together

Pest control is a customer-driven industry that is dependent on communication and relationships – two areas where women tend to excel. It can also be a fast-paced business where it’s essential to wear many hats at once. Let’s be honest, most women are serious multi-taskers! We are also problem-solvers who tend to think differently to men – and variety in thinking is advantageous. (It’s perhaps no surprise that many successful pest control operations are husband and wife teams!)

PWAPM serves to empower women in our industry, so that we can all work together – both men and women – to better serve our customers. It is fantastic to see men in the industry are embracing our unique female strengths.

The year ahead

PWAPM has an exciting and busy year ahead with our very first event booked in to celebrate International Women’s Day on March 8, 2019. The event is to be held in Noosa, QLD, and will be a an evening of inspiring and thought-provoking speakers and entertainment

as we celebrate the diversity of women and examine our changing roles within the business world. Debra Willis from Key Solutions Online will delivering a lunchtime talk on smart, customer-centric solutions for pest control businesses, specifically related to Messenger marketing. The evening’s variety performers and speakers will be talking on the theme of women, empowerment and leadership.

Workshops will be held in various locations throughout the year across Australia with the theme of ‘working together’. These sessions will o er guidance on how men and  women, managers, employees, office staff and technicians can work better together to minimise work-related issues and stress and maximise satisfaction and output.

PWAPM will be very much involved at this year’s Rapid Solutions EduCON conference to be held in August at the RACV Royal Pines, Gold Coast. We will have our own exhibitor stand and members will have the opportunity to attend an exclusive networking high tea event.

The most exciting advancement for us this year will be the PWAPM Excellence Award. The recognition award for women in pest management is long overdue and we are excited to be finally presenting this award for the first time at the 2019 EduCon event. More details on the nomination process, criteria and sponsorship will be revealed soon.

Any women looking to find out more about PWAPM or to become a member can visit our website  or join the Facebook group @womeninpestmanagement. The PWAPM Facebook group is a wonderful space for open discussion and an opportunity to share experiences and ask one another for help and guidance.

By coming together, women in pest management can help support, grow and cultivate this industry, which is to the benefit of everyone.