Getting more women into the building trades is a continuous process. Mechanical Insulators Labor Management and Cooperative Trust Deputy Director Gina Walsh came on AWF Union Podcast to discuss getting more women into the trades, the upcoming Tradeswomen Build Nations Conference and her history as a tradeswoman.
NABTU Tradeswomen Build Nations
Each year, North America’s Building Trades Unions (NABTU) hosts a conference called the Trades Women Build Nations (TWBN) Conference. It is aimed specifically at celebrating women in the building trades and figuring out how to get more women involved.
Walsh said TWBN will look different this year. The conference typically switches cities every year, giving more women a chance to get involved. This year the conference will be virtual, on Saturday, Oct. 12.
She said the conference normally sees about 3,000 participants. However, Walsh hopes more will participate this year since it is being held virtually.
Throughout the week leading up to the conference and in the days after, each trade will gather in a virtual caucus and hold workshops.
Those who would like to participate in the main conference and any of the various caucuses can register on the NABTU website.
Climbing the ranks as a woman in construction
Although Walsh made her career as an insulator, she said she began working with the elevator constructors in St. Louis, MO. When the elevator constructors went on strike, Walsh said she was let go since she was only a temporary employee.
After being surrounded by young tradesmen who said their trade would never accept a woman into their ranks, Walsh said she went and sat at a Heat and Frost Insulators and Allied Workers Union Hall for hours.
After sitting for hours on end at the union hall, they took her information and said they would call her. Nine months later, she was accepted into the apprenticeship program.
Walsh said jobsites have changed over the years. She said she sees more women in the building trades every year. She added that some women just need to understand that they are every bit as capable of working in the trades as men are.
She finished by explaining the benefits of a career in the trade. From the livable wages to the high quality health and retirement benefits earned.
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