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FROM TRADESMEN TO TRADESPEOPLE: WOMEN FORGING AHEAD IN THE SKILLED TRADES

Source | businesscreditcards.com | Nicole Dieker

It’s an excellent time for women in construction. As The Washington Post reports, we are in the middle of a “new wave” of female builders, contractors and small business owners, wielding not only power tools but also Instagram-friendly hashtags like #MoveOverBob and #tradeswomenofIG.

“There has never been a better time for women to enter skilled trade careers,” Kathleen Culhane, president of Nontraditional Employment for Women (NEW), told me. She is one of the many women working to help spread the word about opportunities for women in construction, including the opportunity to take on leadership positions and own businesses.

Danielle Putnam, who co-founded The New Flat Rate with her father and was recently elected president of Women in HVACR, is also working to promote women’s contributions to the field. “It’s not that we haven’t been here all along,” she said, “but for the first time the men’s club has really opened up, and they’re embracing bringing women into the industry in a bigger role.”

CHALLENGING INDUSTRY STEREOTYPES

Currently, the construction industry is experiencing a worker crisis. “For the past forty years, nobody’s been going into the trades,” Putnam explained. This is due in part to a trend of parents urging their children to pursue four-year college degrees instead of attending trade schools, but it’s also due to some persistent negative stereotypes about the industry.

Organizations like Women in HVACR have to challenge the idea that trade work is a low-wage career with little opportunity for advancement. “That’s not true,” Putnam said. “We’re the ones coming out with all the smart technology and smart homes.” There is opportunity for the person who can design the smart tech, and there’s also opportunity for the person who can install and fix it.

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