Plan to Add 1 Million U.S. Tradeswomen in the Next Decade


US Commerce Dept.

U.S. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo announced the creation of the Million Women in Construction Initiative at last month's Tradeswomen Build Nations conference in Las Vegas. The event was the world's largest gathering of women construction workers in history.


“Together, we’re going to ... bring more women into the trades than ever before,” said Secretary Raimondo. "My focus is building the long-term competitiveness of the U.S.," she said. "But here’s the reality: if we don’t invest in women’s success in the economy, we’re not going to be able to compete."


Along with Secretary Raimondo, union leaders, management, and government officials, spoke of unprecedented infrastructure spending. They feel the infusion of federal money is an opportunity for women to increase their numbers beyond the current 11% industry representation. If the initiative is successful in meeting its decade long goal, the number of women in the trades will have doubled.


Raimondo pledged to use portions of the federal money to accomplish this. “Don’t you think that if contractors and companies are using taxpayer money, they should do it with an inclusive workforce?” She added, "Everyone should have access to these jobs, and that means women and people of color too."


Speakers touted the quality of tradeswomen that have graduated from programs aimed at training women in construction. Raimondo cited the creation of a welding training program for women as an example. On the other end of the spectrum, renewable power developer, Orsted, and building trades, touted project labor agreements with built in diversity targets.


“There are plenty of studies that will tell you how much diversity improves the business case, but it's not enough to just make the business case,” said Allison Ziogas, Orsted U.S. labor relations manager and a former union electrician forewoman. “It is about addressing systemic barriers that women and people of color have faced."



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