As the skilled trades industry faces a retiring generation of workers and the desire to bring in new talent, one solution is rising through the ranks: tradeswomen. Women have always played a major historical part in this industry, from building ancient structures in the Middle Ages to engineering the Brooklyn Bridge.
While wartime efforts pushed women to the forefront of the trades decades ago, today they make up less than 10% of jobs in the country. From organizations that teach girls skills at a young age to establishing an inclusive workplace environment for all, we all have to play our part in creating the space to let their talents shine. At TRUEWERK, we know our responsibility starts with offering the same standard of quality and features in our workwear, engineered with fit and function for women in mind. We reached out to some of our ambassadors to hear their thoughts on where the industry for female professionals is heading and what they want to see next.
Farrah Etcheverry, Etcheverry Land Surveying
I got started in the trades because of my dad. He began his career as a heavy equipment operator, then learned how to grade check, and from there got interested in land surveying. I grew up watching him work, and when I became old enough to see how cool his job was, it was an easy transition for me to begin working under him.
I am so inspired in my line of work by other professionals, our community is one of problem solvers and I know I can always reach out to a colleague for help or guidance. I work in Northern Arizona and a big part of my job happens outside. I am often hiking "the road less traveled" and the landscape here is stunning. I am so blessed to work in such a beautiful part of the US.
In the future, I would love to see more women get into Land Surveying. I think women offer a unique perspective and approach in the workplace that should be valued and utilized. My hope for the future is that the trades continue to develop into a welcoming space for people from all walks of life, where they can find success and fulfillment in their careers.
Advice for my female counterparts....don't ever let the one or two rude comments affect the positive impact you are making on this community. Don't hide who you are to fit in, embrace your differences, utilize your strengths, learn from your weaknesses, and you will thrive!
Farrah’s TRUEWERK picks: My absolute FAV piece of Truewerk womenswear are my T1 WerkPants. In the summer in Arizona it is hard to find durable yet breathable pants, but these 100% fit the bill. They fit a woman’s body like work pants should and are still stylish and comfortable!
D’ondra Howard, Work Boots and Glasses
Woodworking and Custom Furniture
What led me to working in the trades was me wanting nice furniture for my home. I wanted to replace the Ikea furniture I bought a few years ago with nice pieces of furniture and needed to learn how to do that.
What inspires me in my field is seeing all the projects women are doing themselves. I get super inspired by a lot of women who are tackling projects on their own to make their home the way they want. It makes me want to attempt to do the same to see if I can do it too.
I see the future for female trade pros going in the direction where you will see more of us there than you're used to. We will be there right alongside the men and killing it with them, no competition. Everyone is rooting for everyone regardless of gender or race.
Words of advice I would give is if you really want to do it, I mean truly want to learn, do it. Take a class, ask to shadow someone, rent a couple of tools and try it. If you find out you like it, great, if you find out you don't, at least you tried and know that it wasn't for you. The thing is, even if you are afraid, try it out, and do it...afraid.
Christy Miller, Oak Hill Millworks
Woodworking, DIY, and Laser
My career in healthcare as a cardiac nurse led to burnout way faster than anticipated. I started a company revolving around building things and fabricating parts with a laser & CNC because I wanted to return to my roots. I have found joy in working with my hands since I was a kid and built forts in the woods.
I'm most inspired by the people who choose to carve their own path and don't feel the need to cave into societal pressures of the traditional 4-year college path. I think we are slowly but surely breaking down stereotypes and barriers to make room for more women in the trades but I think we have a long way to go. I think one way to make progress on that front is not only to get women in skilled trades positions but also to get them in positions of leadership to set the tone for expectations in the workplace to be about having quality, ethical workers regardless of gender.
Pursue what you're passionate about with relentlessness. If you don't make it about your gender, maybe they won't either. Put in the work and show 'em who's boss through your skill and effort. We all need to have each other's backs.
Meg Sim, Meg Sim Roofing
I knew University was not the answer for me after high school; I had moved to a neighbouring city to live with some friends and work while I figured out what I wanted to do with my life. While serving at a local bar, I met a man who owned a roofing company. He had one girl working on his crew that was working out well, and I knew her through a friend, so I asked her if she liked it, and she loved it. It took me knowing another girl doing roofing to even consider it a possibility. I fell in love with roofing and the physical nature of the job, and I was learning so much! I always loved heights; as a kid, I would climb everything. It was a no-brainer. A year later, I moved to Fort McMurray, Alberta to start a scaffolding apprenticeship!
The amount of women I have met in the last two years working in the trades/construction industry in many different facets is incredibly inspiring! I was lucky to know another woman working in roofing, but it was only us that I knew of in 2011. I was the only woman (until I got a female friend hired) out of 200 men working on my shift in Fort Mac in 2012. Instagram wasn't what it is today back then. Amazingly, more women are working in the trades, and Instagram is helping with that visibility. In the trades, there is always something new to learn, whether a technique or a new product, and that keeps me inspired and motivated to keep doing high-quality work!
I am excited for the future of female trade professionals! I think more and more women are recognising the opportunities available in the trades and are breaking down barriers and stereotypes. I want to shout out @womenonsite started by four women in the trades here in Ontario, Canada. They’re a non-profit organization based in SW Ontario (for now) that organizes meet-ups and provides support and advocacy for women working in the trades. Organizations like this have a huge impact and are paving the way for more and more women to enter this empowering world of the trades every day!
My advice to women out there who are considering a career in the trades is to go for it! You are more than capable! Don’t listen to anyone telling you otherwise; that is their sh*t, not yours. I received a lot of skepticism from my friends and family when I chose to be in Roofing and Scaffolding because no women were doing what I was! Embrace the unknown and pave the way! YOU GOT THIS! If you're in London, Ontario, I will apprentice you.
Meg’s TRUEWERK picks: I wear the B1 Sun Hoodie every day on the roof while working outside. I have every colour! I can’t work without it, it's essential for me! I wear the hood up with a tilly on top so that when I'm bent over shingling a roof, my neck and back are protected from the sun. The shirt is thin and wicks sweat quickly making it super breezy. This item has to be my number 1 favourite!
Jessica Considine, Sculpted Roots
Welder / Fabricator
Working and building with my hands started at a young age because of my father. He has been a rough and fine carpenter since he was 19. Growing up, I would help my father with demolition, renovations, remodeling, and even building a home from the ground up. Although I didn’t choose the path of carpentry, my father helped build the skills and confidence I needed to pursue a career in the trades.
What led me into metalworking was jewelry classes in high school. I was fascinated with soldering, fabricating, and polishing metal. After I graduated, I found a position as a bench jeweler. This position taught me to work with precious metals such as gold and silver. While I became a full-time bench jeweler, I was enrolled in my local community college. I found that my college had metal sculpting classes and was intrigued. I took a class and fell in love with large-scale metalworking. I eventually enrolled in the welding program my college offered. I graduated with my Associate’s in welding and fabricating and became an AWS Certified Welder. I have been a fabricator/welder for the last three years. I do what I love, and I love what I do.
I'm inspired by the pure craftsmanship of fabricators—being able to build a project from start to finish with your own knowledge, skills, and passion. This means rolling, bending, and cutting your own metal and prepping it to be fabricated and welded. This inspires me because a real fabricator has the capability to run every type of machine in their shop. It allows them to think outside the box and be creative on each build.
Currently, in the United States, only 5% of welders are women. I would love to see the percentage double in the next couple of years. I believe it could be possible if there were a clear career path for women that want to get into welding. Women of all ages should be exposed to the benefits and creativity that working with your hands gives you.
Always take pride in everything you do at work and focus on doing each and every weld you do to the absolute best of your ability. You will gain respect and notoriety, not only at your job but in the entire industry. If you’re an outstanding welder, it won’t matter if you’re a man or a woman.
Jessica's TRUEWERK picks: I have a few different favorites, but starting at the top is easily the T1 WerkPant. These pants are easy to move in, well-fitted, and lightweight. Working in a welding shop in the summer is hot enough, and these pants help keep me cooled down and comfortable. I also love wearing these pants while dirt biking. They are durable and allow me to move freely and comfortably while riding through trails. Next up, would be the S3 Solution Hoodie. I wear this jacket all winter long. Whether I'm working outside, in my home shop, or heading to work. It is warm, functional, and stylish.
Tradeswomen are the future. To all of you paving the way in your fields, we see you. We thank you. And we appreciate you. Happy International Women’s Day.