It’s an exciting time to be a woman in the trades. While it’s no secret that the construction trades have historically been a male-dominated industry, women are breaking down barriers and making their mark in the trades. You can now find women on most job sites, working in a wide range of trades, from carpentry and plumbing, to electrical and HVAC.
In fact, over the last five years, the number of tradeswomen increased by over 32%!
Why are so many women choosing careers in the trades?
Great and Equal Pay in the Trades
In the trades, the pay is great, and is great for all. The construction industry offers higher equality in pay than almost any other industry. While the national gender pay gap across all industries is 17%, the gender pay gap in the construction industry is only 3.7%, and is 0% in the organized construction trades.
In the trades, one hour of work equals one hour of pay, no matter who you are. That’s because if there is a collective bargaining agreement in place (a CBA is an agreement between the employer and the local union whose members are working at a job site), if you are a journeyperson electrical worker or ironworker doing a specific job, you get the same pay, period, end of story. Amazing, right?
Opportunity Abounds for Women in the Trades
The demand for skilled tradespeople is on the rise, and women are stepping up to fill the gap and meet the industry's needs. Women have discovered that the trades not only offer stable, well-paying jobs with great benefits but also offer almost limitless opportunities for advancement.
In specific trades, like electrical, plumbing, or painting, women represent less than 10% of the workforce. The number is just over 10% for construction manager positions. Women are needed and actively sought after in the trades, offering infinite possibilities for career growth and advancement.
Community & Support
People of all ages and walks of life come to the trades for the camaraderie, community, and support that they find here, and that’s no different for women in the trades. Trade work is true teamwork that crosses all barriers, and women in the trades have formed a particularly supportive community of empowerment and encouragement.
While this sisterhood is often formed organically on job sites and within the trade, there are also countless organizations, such as Chicago Women in Trades and the National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC), that exist to support and help women succeed and thrive in their careers by providing dedicated training programs, mentorship opportunities, advocacy, and networking programs. Many individual trade organizations have also created women’s groups to help ensure equity, recruit, promote, empower, and retain women in their respective fields, such as SMART’s Women’s Committee, NABTU’s Tradeswomen Build Nations, and UBC’s Sisters in the Brotherhood.
Women may come to the trades for the opportunities, pay, and love of the work, but they stay because of the sisterhood and benefits.
As we celebrate Women's History Month, it's essential to recognize that not only are trades jobs good for women, but women are good for the trades.
Despite the challenges they have faced in a male-dominated industry, women have played a vital role in shaping the construction industry as we know it today. They are bringing a fresh perspective and new ideas to the job site, and their presence is helping to create more inclusive and diverse work environments.
There’s never been a better time to consider a career in the construction trades, especially for women. Learn more and get started today!