A few months ago, I had the pleasure of meeting with a few of the outstanding Women in Trades in the Seattle area. It was exciting and uplifting. Booths were set up all around Seattle Center, the Space Needle hovering in the background–speaking to the feats that can be accomplished by the hard working folks who make up construction teams.
Over 80 exhibitors are there to speak to curious children and work-ready women hoping to find a career match. I have truly never seen such a sense of community and encouragement. Women who have put so much at stake to pursue a career off the beaten path are there to embolden anyone who’s been considering that new job with a living wage. They are there to introduce the idea to a younger generation that women can do anything–and they will have a built-in family with camaraderie on the job that few other professions can boast.
For most, working in the trades is highly rewarding way to achieve financial independence and boost self-confidence. Working with your hands to build something tangible and substantial is empowering. That doesn’t mean there still aren’t disadvantages women meet on a day to day basis. Females make up a small percentage of the construction force, but as that number grows, the more their basic needs will be met. There is power in numbers and there is power in women finding the job that suits their skills and personalities.
Cynthia has been in the trades for over 20 years. To her, it meant financial independence for her and her 4 children. Her work has been the tool she needed provide well for her family in the present and pave a way for their futures. She now is the matriarch to 11 grandchildren, who will grow up knowing that their grandmother is strong and capable.
“Don’t be afraid to step out of the box.”
-Cynthia Garrett (pictured above)
Welcome to the Sisterhood of Boilermakers, Iron Ship Builders, and Blacksmiths. These four are tightly knit, extremely supportive, and hope you’ll consider joining the trades. From their perspective, it’s imperative that you know how accomplished you can be with the right training.
“Follow your interests–do it today.”
-Kate Starling (second to left)
“You can do anything you want to. You are smart enough, tough enough, and you will look good doing it!!”
-Jennifer Matuika (far right)
“If you want to do it, do it!”
-Caitlin Batson (left)
“Do it even though no one else thinks you can. Always believe in yourself; only you can stop yourself from doing the impossible.”
-Kayla Santiago (right)
Kat Taylor was born into a legacy of strength. Her mom is also an Ironworker–in fact, she worked on the Space Needle (seen behind Kat in the picture above).
“You have to be confident in yourself and what you want because that’s what will get you through. Work harder than them if not more.”
-Ironworker Kat Taylor, Local 86
Meet a few of the fierce firefighters and EMTs of Tacoma, Washington. They are also a big part of Camp Blaze, a fire service camp where young women experience the firefighter life firsthand.
“Network. Look to other women to mentor you. Odds are, they’ve been down that path.”
“Seek out opportunities. Don’t wait for them to seek you out.”
Are you a woman in the trades? We’d love to hear your words of wisdom. Feel free to comment below.