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Women in Trades



The majority of women continue to be segregated into 20 out of 440 occupations.1 School and unemployment services often fail to explore nontraditional careers with women and girls. Not knowing all of their options, they choose traditional female dominated careers, because they are familiar with them. Unlike traditional female dominated careers, blue-collar careers in the manufacturing, construction and transportation sectors of the economy offer wages and benefits that lead to economic self-sufficiency.

Percentage of women working in nontraditional, blue collar careers in 2000.2

Carpenters 1.7%
Plumbers and Pipefitters 1.3%
Firefighter 3.0%
Skilled Manufacturing 2.1%

Why women want to work in these careers.

  • Better Pay. Nontraditional careers pay more - 20-30% more AND better benefits than traditional female careers.
  • Career Advancement. Nontraditional careers have established career ladders to provide women with the opportunity to advance and earn higher wages and benefits.
  • Freedom. Nontraditional careers provide women with greater autonomy, the opportunity to work with their hands, and higher job satisfaction by expanding career opportunities.
  • Women are Good At It. Smaller hands and body structures often make women better equipped to work with small parts and in little compartments.

Women who choose nontraditional careers may need additional training and often face barriers to entry.

  • Need Training. Women are often unfamiliar with how to use tools and read blueprints.
  • Careers Unknown. Women do not have the opportunity to explore non-traditional careers. These positions are also not advertised in newspapers and in employment centers.
  • Need Sponsors. Many apprenticeship programs require apprentices to be sponsored by employers or others in the field.
  • Hostile Worksites. Women are isolated and often discriminated against.
  • Sexual Harassment. Women often work by pictures and drawings of naked women, are submitted to unwelcome sexual remarks or advances.

CWIT can help women overcome these barriers. To learn more, attend our information session.

1. The U.S. Department of Labor defines nontraditional occupations for women as jobs where women make up less than 25% of the total number of workers.

2. Statistics from the U.S. Department of Labor, Women's Bureau and the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment and Earnings Survey.

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