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Virtual event helps women support one another in the trades

Virtual event helps women support one another in the trades - Mechanical Insulators LMCT Deputy Director Gina Walsh

The union construction industry offers women an excellent opportunity to begin and sustain a successful career. 

Despite the great opportunities available, U.S. Department of Labor data reveals women represent only 3.4 percent of the U.S. construction workforce. 

Women who enter the trades face many of the same challenges as their male counterpart apprentices, but they can also deal with other issues such as sexism and underrepresentation. As a result, many drop out because they do not have the support they need to succeed.

The Tradeswomen Build Nations Conference (TWBN) is the largest gathering of union tradeswomen in the world. Last fall’s conference was canceled due to COVID-19 concerns. In lieu of the conference, two virtual events were planned by the North America’s Building Trades Unions (NABTU) to provide tradeswomen with resources to mitigate some of the challenges they may experience while working in the trades.

Gina Walsh, Deputy Director of the Mechanical Insulators Labor Management and Cooperative Trust (LMCT), appeared on the America’s Work Force Union Podcast to preview the March 5 Tradeswomen Build Nations Winter Webinar.


The challenges of being a woman in the trades

Walsh discussed her personal experiences when she began her career with the International Association of Heat and Frost Insulators and Allied Workers in 1979. She was one of only a few women working in the field, and noted it was years before she ever saw another woman on a jobsite. 

Fortunately, women have become more prevalent in the trades, but continue to represent a significant minority. Now, women working in the trades are referred to as “non-traditional employment,” she said. Walsh quipped that we will know women have truly arrived when having women work in the trade careers is simply referred to as “employment.”

While there are more women working in the trades in recent years, the current number is not enough. Walsh said the simple solution to this problem is to recruit more women. When there are more women on a job, the cultural climate is significantly different and women tend to be treated better, she said.

Walsh encouraged women entering the trades to find themselves a mentor. It does not matter if that mentor is a man or a woman, she said. They just need to be willing to answer questions and offer assistance. Walsh added that she had a number of mentors who lifted her up and proved to be critical during her successful career.


You can listen to the entire podcast




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