Gender equality in the workforce has been a topic that has been discussed quite extensively recently. Gender roles in the workplace are also evolving from “men need to be out in the field as laborers, and women should be at home or in an office setting” is definitely a thing of the past. There are more and more male nurses working in hospitals. On the same token, there are more and more females working in trade jobs as well.
World War II was the beginning of this shift in gender roles in the workplace. Women overtook the jobs that men left behind and started to establish their rightful place within the workforce as valuable employees. I am sure you all remember the poster with Rosie the Riveter, and woman flexing her bicep, wearing a bandana. Though Rosie helped pave the way, there is still a bit of work that needs to be done in order to have workplace equality. Even though women make up almost half of the workforce in the United States, there is still a vast shortage when it comes to women in skilled trade positions.
Women looking into skilled trade jobs as a career have the same benefits as those of men. I would encourage more people to not look at skilled trade positions for big men with burly beards anymore. Employers are looking for highly skilled workers who know what they are doing, and women are equally capable as men to fill these positions. There are several reason why skilled trade jobs are an excellent career for both men and women. Job security is huge with skilled trades. There will always be jobs available and in demand. You do not have to worry about going to a traditional college for four or more years. Trade schools offer a much shorter period of schooling and training. Plus, there are many employers who do apprenticeships for on the job training. The last thing to mention is that shortage of people for skilled trade jobs, and employers are looking for qualified candidates to fill these jobs every day. Having a more diverse workplace allows companies to outperform those who have a limited demographic, which is why they are interested in hiring more women.
Let us look at the numbers. Between 2017-2018, the number of women in construction trades increased by 17.6%, rising to well over a quarter million women, according to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR). The share of women working in construction in 2018 were the highest in 20 years. Even though that was the case, only 3% of the construction workers are women. Women are severely underrepresented. In the last twenty years, the only time when you saw women in construction was right before the recession in 2006. Even with administrative and back office staff working in construction are included, only 9% of women are represented. The average wage for a full-time female construction worker was $785 per week in 2018. Employers now are potentially hiring at a higher rate or income now to help with filling the gap of employees needed for jobs.
The challenge of seeing women in skilled trade jobs will always be there. We all have to change that mindset to help drive women into a very good paying career, that gives them stability, and allows for upward movement within the industry.