As of 2020, only four percent of skilled construction workers in the United States were women.
While new programs have come about around the country, including one from the LA-based nonprofit Women In Non Traditional Employment Roles and a Biden Administration proposal currently in discussion that would create one million to two million apprenticeships, enhancing the pipeline for women and minorities, females’ participation in the trades has not flourished much since the 1980s.
President Lyndon Johnson issued Executive Order 11246 in 1965, prohibiting employment discrimination by federal contractors and requiring affirmative action in payroll diversification. Following a lawsuit by the National Women’s Law Center in 1976, the Department of Labor set a goal of 6.9 percent of work hours being performed by women for federal contractor jobs.
Women currently fill nine percent of all apprenticeship slots registered with the federal government, most of which are outside of construction.
Experts in construction employment attribute part of that low participation rate to the fact young women are rarely exposed to the possibility of skilled trades as a career path, along with a lingering bias among some employers that women may not be suited to the physical demands of construction work.
The WINTER pre-apprenticeship program, among others, seeks to prepare women both physically and mentally for the demands of skilled labor – along with instruction in life skills, job interviewing and other necessities – with the goal of getting women into and through apprenticeship programs and into full-fledged participation in skilled trades. (Source)