Women in Trades

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.

Women in Trades / Crafted in Carhartt

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)

Women in Trades / Crafted in CarharttWelcome 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)

Women in Trades / Crafted in CarharttWomen in Trades / Crafted in CarharttKat 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

Women in Trades / Crafted in CarharttMeet 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.”
-Erin Richardson

“Seek out opportunities. Don’t wait for them to seek you out.”
-Marja Stowell

Women in Trades / Crafted in Carhartt

Are you a woman in the trades? We’d love to hear your words of wisdom. Feel free to comment below.

Union Plumber Judaline Cassidy

New York Union Plumber, Judaline Cassidy, is a big proponent of bringing women into the trades. She first acquired her skills in her home country of Trinidad and Tobago. Judaline found great pride and freedom in her profession. After living and working in the states, she wanted to share the benefits of a Union job with other young people, in particular young girls. Women make up only 3% of the trade force.

Judaline started Tools and Tiaras, a nonprofit that focuses on educating and exposing girls to the trades. She offers workshops and summer programs, all taught by women currently working in the field.

Union Plumber Judaline Cassidy / Crafted in Carhartt

“Plumbing wasn’t always my first choice. I wanted to be a lawyer. I love watching Perry Mason, LA Law, and any crime solving shows. When I was going to University it wasn’t a possible due to the passing of my great grandmother. She was my caregiver and support. I had to look for other means to lift myself out of poverty. Learning a Trade In Trinidad and Tobago, the Caribbean Island I’m from, was free and I could mostly definitely afford that.
Then came the task of choosing what craft I should apply for next. So many women were applying for Dressmaking, Tailoring, Culinary, and other similar classes. I decided to improve my odds of being accepted by choosing a male dominated craft. My method of deduction then was: Plumbing you get wet, Electrical you get shock. Plumbing it is. The journey to become an awesome Plumber wasn’t a one way journey. I was a housekeeper, babysitter and nanny on my destination to becoming a Union Plumber.” –Judaline Cassidy of @tools_n_tiaras

“What fuels my passion is the heart, pride, and love of Trades. I want people to respect Trade workers and the structures we have been building for centuries. We need more skilled craft workers because there’s a shortage, and I want people to know it is a great option without any college debt, and you get paid while you learn.” -Union Plumber Judaline Cassidy of @tools_n_tiaras

Union Plumber Judaline Cassidy / Crafted in CarharttUnion Plumber Judaline Cassidy / Crafted in Carhartt Union Plumber Judaline Cassidy / Crafted in Carhartt

“I wasn’t always confident, and I must admit I struggle with it sometimes. My confidence comes from the fact that I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I have a super power: Plumbing. Everyone needs a Plumber. Choosing to be a Tradeswomen is in itself a confident and daring action, so why not own it?” –Judaline Cassidy

Union Plumber Judaline Cassidy / Crafted in Carhartt

Check out Tools and Tiaras to see how you can get involved: http://www.toolsandtiaras.org.