By Evan Henerson

You don’t often see women wearing hard hats at construction sites, but that’s starting to change. In Boston, a group of vocational schools and the Boston Building and Trades Council have launched efforts to diversify the trades and get more women onto construction sites.

Seth Daniel’s article in the Revere Journal reports on a Girls in Trade conference held in December at which he interviewed some of the women who are studying carpentry in vocational school. The numbers of women both in these types of vocational school classes and working on construction sites is still low, but diversity hiring goals are looking to change the picture. More than 300 young women came from vocational schools across eastern Massachusetts to the IBEW Union Hal in Dorchester to learn about the trades and hear from women who work on job sites.

“It was a theme throughout the [Girls in Trade] conference, and seemingly a new door has opened throughout the state to help young women enter high-paid construction careers at a time when the labor market is demanding more workers and job sites are clamoring for more diversity in the workforce – most especially women, who are historically underrepresented in the trades,” Daniel reports.

The Boston Building and Trades Council hopes to have 20% of women in the trades workforce by 2020. Currently, women make up about 7.5%. BBTC representatives note that in India, more than 50% of the construction workers are women.

Union construction jobs pay good money and allow for a good standard of living. Twanya Lawson saw her hourly rate go from $25 to $33 when she took a new gig as a heavy equipment operator.

“You go to the job sites and you’re walking with your head up high because you’re an owner. You have a house and a car and a motorcycle too,” Lawson told the Journal. “ You go on these sites and see these older guys in the union who have been there 20 or 30 years. They ask you what you’re doing there. They say you must be a laborer or something. I always say, ‘No, actually I’m an operator and you’re going to be working with me today.’ Their faces are great. We’re girls. That’s the fun of it…I have to tell you to believe in yourself and don’t let them break you down.”

Read the full article here.



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