As a tradeswoman, you are living proof that women can be successful in the construction industry and your participation in recruitment is the best advertisement an apprenticeship program could hope for. Moreover, as women who have experienced the challenges of working in a male-dominated environment, you can play an important role in ensuring that, in addition to positive messages about wages, skills and benefits, women have the information they need to realistically assess their ability to thrive in the industry.
As you are aware, though there are many women who enjoy creating, working with the hands and being physically active, they remain, for many reasons, under-represented in trades careers. In CWIT’s experience recruiting women for the industry, most have very little or often misinformation about the trades and are normally pleasantly surprised to hear about both the quality of the career opportunities and their ability to meet the entrance requirements.
Barriers to Recruiting Women
- Limited exposure to and information about trades’ careers including benefits or entry routes to apprenticeship, and their potential eligibility.
- Less likely to have vocational education or work experience related to these occupations or even informal skill building through friends or family members.
- Careers are not marketed to women and there are very few visible tradeswomen demonstrating that women can have successful careers in the industry.
- Lack of confidence that they are prepared to succeed and will be welcome in the industry.
By employing just a few simple strategies, you can address many of these issues and be successful in opening up these career opportunities to aspiring tradeswomen.
Cast a Wide Net
Volunteer with your JATC to support recruitment efforts and/or think about what you can do as part of your women’s committee or other support group to expand beyond current outreach strategies. Remember that these careers appeal to a wide range of women, from low-income women attracted by the hourly wage to college graduates who have discovered that they do not enjoy life behind a desk, so the first step is to disseminate information as widely as possible.
Some ideas include:
- Collaborate with a women’s organization such as the YWCA or other community based organizations serving women to help spread the word – offer to make presentations to their members.
- Provide education and resources to community organizations, schools and public agencies (unemployment offices, one-stops, etc.) to help them understand the benefits of the industry and opportunities for women.
- Run ads in the newspaper and send out public service announcements to all local media outlets.
- Post flyers in venues frequented by women (schools, gyms, women’s sports teams, daycare centers etc.)
- Participate in job fairs and other high visibility community events, such as parades.
- Use social media such as Facebook and other on-line job services to reach large numbers of women.
- Encourage women and men in your local to reach out to women in their personal networks.
Use Promotional Materials that feature and specifically address women
Broad outreach will not bring more women to your doors unless you make your intention clear in your materials and your message. Women continue to comprise less than 3% of the construction workforce, so it is not surprising that many women do not even consider the possibility that they are qualified for and welcome in the industry.
Having very little information about apprenticeship programs and the construction industry in general, most, lacking experience and connections, assume they are not qualified and are not likely to respond in large numbers to advertising that does not address them specifically.
We recommend that materials:
- Contain a headline featuring the word “Women” to get their attention.
- Feature pictures of tradeswomen prominently. Visit Tradeswomen Inc.’s Image Library to see a gallery of downloadable pictures of tradeswomen.
- Provide some encouragement and/or information about the benefits or reasons women might want to consider a career in the trades.
Included for download in this section are sample flyers and videos that specifically target women as well as a flyer you can customize for your outreach.
Pair Outreach with Career Education
Translating this increase in awareness into greater numbers of successful applicants can be improved if you provide opportunities for women to get additional information and experience with your program. Consider working with a pre-apprenticeship program, workforce development provider, or community organization to organize a career education event for women in your area or host field trips for aspiring tradeswomen at your apprenticeship program’s facilities.
Hands on field trips, led by instructors and tradeswomen, are a wonderful way to introduce women to your trade. They have the opportunity to work with the tools, hear from female members, and develop a comfort level with returning to complete an application. At the same time, male instructional staff can see first-hand that women are both interested in and able to perform the work.
Included in this section are a wide range of tools to support you in providing career education, including “You Can Do It”, A Woman’s Guide to a Construction Careers and accompanying career education video. The guide, in particular, was developed to provide women with the information they need to assess their interest in and eligibility for trades careers and is a convenient way to provide career education to women. In addition to downloading the guide from the site, you can order a limited number of free copies from us by emailing info@MTAC2.org with your request.