Women in Trades
Less than 3.4% of construction trade workers are women, according to research conducted by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, 2018 report.
That number is comparable with other SKILLED TRADES when it comes to percent of women. We are focused on narrowing this skills gap.
The US Department of Labor Statistics reports that women are substantially underrepresented (relative to their share of total employment) in agriculture, mining, construction, manufacturing, and transportation and utilities. The jobs that are available and will become available are suffering a shortage and women can help fill those gaps. There are opportunities for learning and careers in these industries that we need to help women realize are out there.
In August WSWHE BOCES kicked off its Women In Trades Initiative to focus on narrowing this skills gap starting in the 2021-22 school year. Educators, business and community members said they needed to come up with targeted ways to develop or improve opportunities for area women and girls to enter the skilled trades. With a growing labor shortage in the region and beyond, WSWHE BOCES aims to change perceptions and expand skills training for workforce development.
As part of this process, in October and November more than 100 area 9th and 10th grade female students, selected by their school districts, participated in mini career expos at WSWHE BOCES education centers to discover pathways in the trades. Career and Technical Education instructors led fun and engaging activities to educate and inform female students about the earning potential, career opportunities and educational resources available for: automotive technology, auto body repair, environmental conservation & forestry, heavy equipment operation, HVAC-R and welding. Business partners from D.A. Collins, Saratoga Honda, Callanan Industries, Inc., TruArc, and The Fort Miller were panelists at the events and gave information to the students about the opportunities in their industries. Current CTE students acted as ambassadors.
“By having the young women in our CTE programs demonstrate what they are learning for their peers, we hope to inspire more young women to get into the trades and to think more about non-traditional career paths,” said Nancy DeStefano, Assistant Superintendent for Instructional Programs.
While enrollment of female students in programs that have been thought of as traditionally male dominated fields is low, the organization also aims to find ways to retain those female students that it does have enrolled and find innovative ways to support them. Administrators are in the process of creating a mentor program.
Nancy DeStefano says she thinks that by bringing business partners together, and raising awareness, WSWHE BOCES can get more women interested in the trades.
Regionally, 1.2% of automotive technicians and carpenters are women. Yet both industries' entry level hourly wage is above the Regional Living Wage Floor according to the Workforce Development Institute. With more experience individuals can earn $38-40 per hour, with no college degree required. Female HVAC-RHVAC technicians in our area comprise less than 1% of the industry.
“We can move the needle. We know the shift won’t happen overnight. But if educators and business and industry can work together, we can make a difference,” added DeStefano.
New report from the Women’s Policy Institute: A Future Worth Building: What Tradeswomen Say about the Change They Need in the Construction Industry