Construction work in Massachusetts is booming, and with an influx of federal money flowing into the state comes numerous career opportunities in the building trades.
Given the financial and career benefits of union work, the ability to hold impactful leadership positions, and the growing training and career opportunities within the state, women are increasingly joining the ranks.
These factors contribute to Massachusetts leading the nation in the percentage of women in the field, and many Attleboro-area residents like myself continue to find family-sustaining careers in this space.
As a member of the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 4, I have witnessed firsthand how jobs in construction uplift workers.
Through union careers, workers earn family-sustaining wages and benefits and gain the opportunity to complete high-quality work that makes a significant impact on their neighborhood.
For women, construction has the added bonus of featuring one of the smallest gender pay gaps of all occupations. Even better, union collective bargaining ensures that we are paid equally for the work we do, no matter our gender.
With numerous industry-leading apprenticeship and training programs, Massachusetts is uniquely positioned to encourage entry to the building trades.
For many programs, apprentices earn quality, secure wages while learning the trade, and may even be eligible for benefits such as health insurance.
Once training is completed, apprentices are equipped to excel on the job and graduate with no debt, in contrast to the significant debt faced by college graduates these days. Massachusetts apprentice programs are currently made up of over 10% women, which is more than three times the national average.
Though I grew up in a union family, it wasn’t until I became an operating engineer that I truly learned how stability, great wages, and job security would change my life. To any woman considering this career, it can change yours, too.
Union workers create strong communities and support networks, and there are many opportunities for women to hold leadership roles. I am deeply proud to be the first woman in my union to be elected to an officer position.
As conductor, I play a leading role in the operations of our local, and I encourage my union siblings to seek election, regardless of their gender.
As the first female officer in my union, I am committed to creating paths for other women to explore career and leadership opportunities in the trades.
Massachusetts has a uniquely large and quickly growing support infrastructure, and by fostering union sisterhood across the trades, we are creating new avenues for women to learn more about and enter their career.
On the job site, I might be one of a handful of women, but these numbers are rapidly changing. Women are increasingly taking part in building trades careers throughout the Commonwealth.
More than 20% of students currently enrolled in vocational school construction programs are female.
There are many organizations, such as Building Pathways, Massachusetts Girls in Trades, and the Northeast Center for Tradeswomen’s Equity, that are dedicated to equipping local women with the tools they need to succeed in construction careers.
There are more opportunities than ever before for women to have a union career in the building trades, especially here in Massachusetts.
With exceptional wages and benefits, the ability to learn in industry-leading training programs, and a booming industry, now is the time to seize these opportunities.