Although the building trades are a traditionally male-dominated field of work, women are breaking barriers and finding success and equality in the industry, including within the International Association of Heat and Frost Insulators and Allied Workers.
Throughout the past decades the amount of women in the building trades industry has grown. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), women make up approximately 10 percent of the construction workforce.
If women are looking for an industry where the value of their labor is equal to that of their male counterparts, the construction industry is the way to go. The same BLS data found that women make 99.1 percent of what construction industry men make, making the wage gap almost nonexistent.
Women seem to climb the ladder at a higher rate than men, with the majority of women in the industry holding positions in professional and management positions or sales and office positions. This can also be seen within the Insulators Union where women hold elected positions within their local, and even at the international level.
Despite holding high level positions, women can find success in entry level trade positions. Many of these positions only require a high school diploma or GED and a reliable mode of transportation.
The path to a career in the building trades begins with applying for a registered apprenticeship program, like the Insulators Union apprenticeship program.
Instead of taking on thousands of dollars in student debt, apprentices earn while they learn. They go to work everyday and learn from the highly experienced journeymen they work alongside. This on-the-job learning is supplemented by classroom instruction, led by accredited instructors with experience in the field.
Beginning as apprentices women earn a livable wage, equal to what their male counterparts earn. As they progress through the apprenticeship program they see scheduled pay raises that correspond with their progress. In addition to the great pay, many women are drawn to the trades because of the quality health insurance provided to women.
Although the national share of women in construction remains at 10 percent, Construction Dive outlines various cities that are doing slightly better, achieving employment share in the teens. For example, in Seattle, Washington and San Francisco, California, women make up approximately 17 percent of the construction workforce and earn a median income of $70,966 and $70,711 respectively.
The women of the Insulators Union come from all backgrounds, although they have much in common. They are dedicated to their craft and understand their labor is important and deserves to be fairly compensated.
You can learn more about the women of the Insulators Union here.