Construction Trades Are Not Just For Men
”Women just do things better,” says cement mason and union business manager Mary Battle, whose energy, dedication, and leadership haven’t exempted her from the discrimination and stereotyping frequently experienced by tradeswomen. To mark Women’s History Month, Legal Momentum is launching “Tradeswomen’s Tuesdays,” a visibility campaign that will profile pioneering tradeswomen each week on our blog and in social media, to increase public awareness of the construction trades as desirable career choices for women. These women love what they do and want more women like them to enter their trades. According to Françoise Jacobsohn, project director for Legal Momentum’s Equality Works program, “Conventional wisdom calls these jobs too dirty for women and questions whether women can do the heavy lifting that some require. That stereotype ignores that women have been doing these jobs for decades.“
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the overall representation of women in the trades is a mere 2.5 percent—but that number translates to nearly 200,000 tradeswomen. And women working in the trades make good money compared to those working in female-dominated, low-wage occupations. The mean hourly wage for construction workers is $21.61, nearly triple the federal minimum wage, and workers such as brick masons and electricians make $25 an hour. For more information on women’s representation in the trades, see Legal Momentum’s 2013 report, “Still Excluded.”
Women working in the trades today continue to confront obstacles on the job such as hostility to their presence. “I had to tell myself that what the men said wasn’t about me…You’ll find negativity everywhere, but if you’re determined and block it out, you’ll succeed,” says Battle. Legal Momentum’s Equality Works program works with Battle and women like her to help ensure that they will not have to fight these obstacles every day on the job. Equality Works uses policy initiatives, impact litigation and media advocacy to dismantle the numerous barriers faced by women who seek these job opportunities. Legal Momentum also co-chairs the National Task Force on Tradeswomen’s Issues, which unites local, regional and national expertise and action to support tradeswomen and women who want access to these occupations.
About Legal Momentum
Legal Momentum is a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit organization founded in 1970 to advance the rights of women by using the power of the law and creating innovative public policy in three broad areas: economic justice, freedom from gender-based violence and equality under the law. For more information visit www.legalmomentum.org.