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The Importance of Women in Trades

March 8, 2021

A traditionally male dominated industry, recent labor shortages across the United States have opened trade opportunities for women.

Women make up approximately 9% of the U.S. construction industry, 1.6% of the plumbing industry and 3% of those employed in electrotechnology and telecommunications trade. These percentages, while small, have grown a significant amount since the 1990s when women were being turned away from companies based on gender.

“Even though it’s a male dominated field, it is worth it. The biggest takeaway I’ve taken from my 11 years is to have a strong work ethic and big shoulders”, says Molly Murphy, director of Service Management.

The trades have demonstrated some of the strongest resistance to gender equality within their workforce outside of clerical office work. Specifically, in the HVAC trade, there are pay disparities and exclusionary practices. Applewood Plumbing Heating & Electric acts as a powerful force in Colorado to help grow the numbers of women in the trade industry.

They are a 48-year-old company with females holding many positions as technicians, service managers and fleet managers.

“One of my major concerns when I first started out was whether or not I would be respected as a woman manager”, said Erin Smith, Service Manager at Applewood. “Once I started working however, all of those doubts and fears went away.”

“Getting into the trades as a woman is not as hard as one might think it would be. All it takes is an interest in the field and a willingness to never stop learning”, said Josh Ward, president of Applewood.

For women interested in learning about trades, there are nonprofit organizations nationwide such as Women Building Change that help women take advantage of the expanding opportunities in the construction and trade industry. These organizations offer courses to help women learn more about the industry and how to pursue a career in a trade.

With the need for more skilled workers in the United States, there has never been a better time for women to join the trade industry. A good starting point for women who are interested in the trade industry is to find an apprenticeship. Rachel Pemberton, who was part of Applewood’s apprentice program noted, “An apprenticeship is the best way to learn the skills required for the job and build confidence and work ethic.”

The trade industry is growing, and Applewood serves as an industry leader. The company currently funds scholarships at Red Rocks Community College in plumbing, heating and electrical fields.

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