Chicago Women in Trades was founded in 1981, and, in many ways we are still having the same conversations today that we did 35 years ago, despite the normalization of women’s participation in many other occupations that were once described as male dominated. That does not mean that change is not possible in this industry. Think about the enormous cultural shifts that have occurred around issues such as smoking, for example, and it is clear that it is possible to erode what may appear to be staunch resistance to change.
Certainly adoption of any of the strategies outlined on this site will provide greater opportunity for women to enter and succeed in your program, but systemic change leading, ultimately, to equal opportunity for men and women in the construction industry requires clear intentions, sustained effort, dedicated resources, and broad buy-in from the apprenticeship committee, program and instructional staff, and the contractors that employ your apprentices. Bring stakeholders together to evaluate your program’s record on recruitment and retention of women, identify specific challenges, determine what success looks like to you and identify goals and strategies for improvement, including setting timelines and designating the staff or parties responsible for carrying out activities.
In this section of the toolkit, CWIT will be posting resources to support you in evaluating your program and developing strategies to build women’s access to and retention in apprenticeship.