Supporting Women in the Trades

Women will not achieve real equity in the trades if we do not retain our experienced workers and support them in advancing on the job and within their unions. Though it can be challenging to obtain statistics on retention beyond apprenticeship, anecdotally, it appears that a significant percentage of women who successfully complete their apprenticeship programs still drop out before their tenth anniversary in the trades. According to a recent survey of carpenters in our area, only 51% had worked more than 9 months the previous year and, of those that answered the question, more than 75% stated that employment discrimination caused them to consider leaving their careers.

By coming together we can work to provide support, skill sharing and encouragement to one another as well as build a more powerful voice for addressing the external issues that shorten women’s careers in the industry. Over the decades that women have fought for equal opportunity to build lasting careers in the construction industry, there have been many successful strategies, including the establishment of organizations such as Chicago Women in Trades, and the goal of this site it to provide a wealth of resources to tradeswomen who are working to build women’s committees or mentorship programs in their unions, establish multi-craft support groups, and advocate with their unions, employers and government agencies for policies and practices that support women’s access to and longevity in trades careers.

Chicago Women in Trades welcomes your suggestions for additional resources that you would like to see on this site and encourages you to contact us at if you would like to share information or request additional assistance.