Trade Jobs Aren’t Just for Men


Skilled trades industries are historically dominated by men. One organization is out to change that: Oregon Tradeswoman, Inc (OTI). Their goal? To educate women about opportunities in the trades and support their pursuit of a career in the field. And the great news? They are only one of many organizations joining the movement to bring more women into trades careers…


An article in the Portland Tribune highlights Anjanet Banuelos’s success with the program. When she began the Oregon Laborers Apprenticeship program, she was a single mother of 3, struggling to make ends meet. Banuelos completed the program, earning more than $50,000/year plus retirement and health-care benefits.


Attracting more women like Anjanet to the industry just makes economic sense. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the construction trades outlook projects a 22% job growth by 2022. This is great news for our economy! The only problem is that we’re already facing a shortage of construction workers. Bringing women into this male-dominated industry is a GREAT way to increase the size of the skilled workforce, closing the skills gap. In an era of increasing concern over the wage gap, getting more women to enter trades careers is also a promising way to achieve equity.

“In Oregon, the median annual pay for a woman with a full-time job is $38,801, while median annual pay for a man who holds a full-time, year-round job is $47,194, according to the National Partnership for Women and Families.”-The Portland Tribune

Becoming a certified plumber, welder, electrician, carpenter, mason, or skilled person requires training. Through organizations like OTI, this training is now made accessible. Women have a clear path to career success, with the potential for true job security. Not to mention, their programs do not carry the same crushing debt typical of a college education.


This isn’t the first time there’s been a robust effort to bring more women into the trades. Women played a major role in filling factory work during WWII, while the male population fought overseas. Over the course of the war, the female labor force grew by 6.5 million. This new labor force was supporting the industrial work that men were no longer able to provide. ‘Rosie the Riveter’ was born: a cultural icon and symbol of a hardworking American woman.

The government-backed groundswell of support  for the American woman’s trades career during WWII is similar to what we see today. In fact, Oregon Tradeswomen, Inc. is only one of many organizations promoting skilled trades for women. Others include Washington Women in Trades, Chicago Women in Trades, Women in HVACR and Sisters in the Building Trades.

“Women constitute half of the workforce and bring skills that are needed to enhance our manufacturing capability. This is the face of what our future workforce will be in order to meet customer needs and grow our businesses.”-Laura Lyons 


So if you want to recruit more women into your workforce, start making connections with these organizations. Talk to your local trade schools, unions, and coalitions. Build a network of people with the same goal and collaborate. With their expertise and support, you can start recruiting more women into the trades today!

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Women in Construction

From laborers to CEOs, women work construction, but this industry has always been dominated by men. Why is that, and does it need to be this way? According to statistics gathered by OSHA, the number of women employed by the construction industry has grown “by 81.3% from 1985 to 2007.” Once the recession hit, that growth stopped and we saw a sharp decline in female job procurement during the recession. We still haven’t gained all of those jobs back, but even though “only 9% of U.S. construction workers are women,” it is a huge industry and that means a lot of women find work in construction (OSHA).

So, more women are working in this industry these days, but if we assume that they account for around half of the employable population in the US, why don’t we see more females at the job site? An article byUSA Today said that at least part of the reason is due to a lack of recruitment effort focused at women, as well as male-dominated stereotypes about construction and a huge deterrent, sexual harassment at work sites. This is obviously a problem that has to be fixed and many people and organizations are taking on the task.

Nontraditional Employment for Women is an organization at the forefront of this movement and their website explains that NEW “prepares, trains, and places women in careers in the skilled construction, utility, and maintenance trades, helping women achieve economic independence and a secure future.” Companies like NEW are a great resource, but we can all follow in their example and make our working environment a better place for anyone who’s passionate about construction.

The next time you’re on a job site, take a minute to acknowledge the diversity around you and encourage a positive working environment by speaking and acting with these things in mind. We will all benefit from a better working environment.


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