New Network for Vermont Tradeswomen
By Elise Greaves, WANTO Program Coordinator
In 2019, Vermont Works for Women launched Vermont’s first-ever networking platform for women and gender non-conforming individuals in the trades. The group, called Vermont Tradeswomen, offers a place for women and gender non-conforming trades professionals (and those who support them) to connect, ask questions, and share ideas, advice, and information. A career in the trades typically means higher pay and physical and rewarding work that looks different every day. For women, who make up just 3% of the construction workforce nationally, positions in the trades can provide all of these benefits, but also present unique challenges including managing child care, coping with sexual harassment, lack of access to bathrooms, and the isolation of being the only woman on a jobsite.
Mentorship –connections with other women who have careers in the trades – has been shown to be the #1 way to retain women in these sectors, in addition to creating welcoming and inclusive businesses and jobsites that are accessible to women and non-gender conforming folks. The goal of our Trailblazers: Women in the Construction Trades program is to provide individuals with the skills to launch them directly into jobs or apprenticeships. While we’re training them with the hard skills they need on the job, we’re also building a network of tradeswomen to empower, inspire, and support women in these fields – which is why we’ve launched the Vermont Tradeswomen Facebook group.
Are you interested in learning a trade, but don’t know where to start? Curious about what it’s really like on a jobsite? Want a safe space to work out challenges on the job, or to share work you’re proud of? Vermont Tradeswomen is open and welcoming to people of all skill levels and trades. Our goal is to build a larger community with this group, which will serve as a landing page for asking questions, celebrating successes, seeking advice and guidance, and posting jobs and apprenticeship opportunities, as well as for unstructured and informal dialogue for tradeswomen across the state.
Why is this important? Just ask Genevieve Cambron, Spring 2019 Trailblazers graduate: “The mentorship that has been offered to me in the Trailblazers “de-alienized” me. It has been so soothing to meet and hang out with peers and teachers that are just like me: handy, strong-willed, smart, fantastic women! It also allowed me to demystify anything I needed to about the trades, as it offered me a safe space to ask all my questions. I am still in contact with all of them because I always have a lot of questions and because having a group is so grounding and nourishing.”
Online or offline, there are many ways to be involved in this effort. If you work in a trade and want to inspire and support other women to do the same, contact Elise Greaves – firstname.lastname@example.org – to learn more about mentorship!