Advocating for Women in the Male Dominated Trades

Thursday, May 17, 2018
They're advocates for their union and the building trades, mentors, volunteers and friends who understand what it's like to be a woman in a male-dominated industry.  
New local women's committees are embracing those roles and more, empowering IBEW sisters, spreading goodwill and inspiring future tradeswomen.

"We get a lot of questions about what it's like to be part of a union," said Susan Sweeney, co-chair of the Syracuse, N.Y., Local 97 committee that makes a splash wherever members turn up in their Rosie the Riveter "Power and Light Society" T-shirts. "We're getting our good name out there."

Local 97 women have filled the pantry at a Ronald McDonald house, walked for Alzheimer's research and are talking about building a Habitat for Humanity home. Women in Portland, Ore., Local 48 are wiring a transitional home for Native American women recently released from prison, mentoring them in the process and steering some toward IBEW apprenticeships. Women in Vancouver, B.C., Local 258 collect food, clothing and personal hygiene items for the homeless, among a long list of good deeds.

And there are social occasions, like the "Paint and Sip" party - an art class with wine - that introduced Local 97 women in the Buffalo area to their new committee. In Albany, at the eastern end of the local's jurisdiction, women gathered for a race-day lunch at Saratoga. In Syracuse, it was a barbecue with a band.


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