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Oregon Tradeswomen, Women’s Bureau Hold Roundtable on Female Retention in Trades

From top left: Steve Simms, Lili Hoag, Larry S. Williams, John Gardener, Connie Ashbrook, Betty Lock, WHO, Meghan Moyer, Pat Williams, Tiffany Thompson, Sara Gourley

From top left: Steve Simms, Lili Hoag, Larry S. Williams, John Gardener, Connie Ashbrook, Betty Lock, Paloma Sparks, Meghan Moyer, Pat Daniels, Tiffany Thompson, Sara Gourley

Portland-region workforce development organizations were honored to host Women’s Bureau Region X Regional Administrator Betty Lock this week for a roundtable discussion on retention of women in trades apprenticeships.  The group came together to discuss a persistent and vexing problem in the construction industry: A full 65 percent of women fail to complete their apprenticeships, a rate substantially higher than men’s termination rate of 35 percent.

The robust discussion was informed by experts in the field from the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries, Worksystems, Inc., the Northwest College of Construction, Constructing Hope, Family Forward Oregon, and Oregon Tradeswomen, Inc., who convened the meeting.  Among the factors that contribute to the disparity in retention rates discussed by the group were jobsites and employers that remain hostile toward women, the fact that tradeswomen are dispatched to fewer work hours than their male apprentice counterparts, and the continued lack of supportive services that are tailored to the specific needs of workers in the construction industry.


Betty Lock hears from participants about challenges faced by female apprentices in the trades

Solutions offered by the group included emphasizing accountability and enforcement on projects that fail to meet diversity hiring targets, working with contractors and employers to stimulate demand for female workers, and tailoring supportive services to suit women working in the industry that have children.  Many in attendance emphasized the importance of networking, noting that women and men of color are not being mentored into a network that guarantees them more access to the jobs that help them succeed in apprenticeship. Oregon Tradeswomen’s Advocacy Program Manager also offered a summary of its work on the Green Dot bystander intervention program, which could be employed on construction jobsites to reduce harassment of female and minority workers.

We look forward to continuing this discussion with our regional partners and the Department of Labor, as well as working together to refine and implement the best of these strategies in the future.  Oregon Tradeswomen wishes to thank our regional partners, Betty Lock, and the Women’s Bureau for their commitment to women in the trades and for coming together to discuss this critical issue!

Posted on by OTI Staff in Apprentice, Career Path, Community Partners, Events, Pre-Apprenticeship, tradeswomen | Leave a comment

Congratulations to OTI’s Building Girls Summer Work Crew!

OTI is incredibly proud of the young women in our Building Girls Summer Work Crew who just finished up four weeks of learning to build! They constructed a large arbor at Nadaka Nature Park!


Photo captions: Building at Camp Westwind (left), Tylea stands in the hole she dug all by herself in preparation for the construction of an arbor (middle); Finished arbor (right).

OTI’s 2015 Building Girls Summer Work Crew graduated on July 9th and celebrated with cake and refreshments. Congratulations, everyone! We’re so proud of you and what you accomplished in only 4 weeks!



Posted on by OTI Staff in Building Girls | Leave a comment

Guest Blog Post: Three Exceptional People… by Sapphire Sasha

Three Exceptional People Who Prove Women Can Thrive in Any Industry

It’s undeniable that there are some jobs and industries that many still consider to be unsuitable for women, and a few years ago, the STEM industry was one of them. Thanks to the unrelenting efforts of those who saw the potential women could have in these fields, we’ve certainly come a long way in the push for gender equality, and if this growing support for women in STEM industries is any indication of future trends, we should see support for women in the trades grow as well.

Of course, the fight is never easy, and on some days, tradeswomen may find themselves struggling against forces that would see them abandon their jobs and head for more “women-friendly” industries. If today is one of those days, just remember the following women who succeeded in industries others thought they couldn’t thrive in.

1. Jeri Ellsworth
Everyone knows that working in science and mechanical fields can be difficult for women, but simply learning the trades can prove to be a challenge as well. Jeri Ellsworth serves as an inspiration to any girl who’s ever found herself unable to get the support she needs to pursue her interests, having taught herself to program by reading a Commodore 64’s manuals. Her interest shifted to dirt-track race cars when she began driving them with her father, and she designed and assembled her own models and dropped out of high school to continue the business. In an interview with EE Times, she talks about how her interest in computers and engineering never waned, and how she didn’t take formal education in the field until her late 20s, when she attended Walla Walla College to study circuit design for about a year. In the following years, she would go on to develop gaming hardware and is now known for the development of castAR, a system that brings “3D holographic like projections in AR, fully immersive environments in VR”.

2. Kate Carter
Female athletes have certainly benefited from a more accommodating view in major sports, and with current fitness trends being the way they are, many women have also begun to take up running, be it for fitness, health or recreation. However, many still think that taking up hobbies such as running is impossible for women who want to take care of their families. Kate Carter is an amazing example of how women can juggle a family, a full-time job, and a running habit all at once. She is a Lifestyle editor for The Guardian, where she maintains the Running Blog, and in an interview with Tootsa MacGinty, she says that it was motherhood that actually got her started on running, saying, “To be honest, I’d love to say I had some great inspirational moment – and I’ve certainly always loved watching running and athletics generally – but to be honest it was just practical! I was on maternity leave with my youngest daughter, wanted to get a bit fitter and healthier again, and running was the most efficient way to do that!” Kate runs six days a week and has even competed in the London marathon, and she’s seen as one of the foremost experts on running.

3. Col. Cynthia Tinkham
Perhaps the most male-dominated field is the military, and even as laws have relaxed and allowed women to join the army in service of their country, many still struggle to secure high-ranking positions, and sometimes even the respect of their colleagues. Col. Cynthia Tinkham, however, made history when she became the first woman to have major command in the Oklahoma Army National Guard last year, drawing a victory for women everywhere. However, she told KOCO.com that it wasn’t prestige that she was looking for when she joined the army. “I think it was always just that attraction to public service, I think I was always just geared that way,” she said. She’s been serving the army for over 25 years, and she sees herself serving for much longer. “I love my job. I love what I’m doing and I’ll stay as long as I can. Until it’s time, either I feel it’s time or it’s just time for me to move on and make way for other people,” she said.

Written by Sapphire Sasha
Exclusive for Oregon Tradeswomen, Inc.

Posted on by OTI Staff in Guest Blog | Leave a comment

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