Residential Service Careers are a Great Choice for Many Women
The plumbing, HVAC, and electric industries’ urgent need for skilled workers creates opportunities for women to enter and advance in these fields. Increasing the overall number of women working in the trades will also help to fill the imminent gap in the labor force that will be created with record-levels of upcoming retirements of skilled trades people. Jobs in the trades further offer women the chance for meaningful work with high wages. A woman can expect to earn 20 to 30 percent more in a skilled trade career. Here, we spotlight some women who have had – and continue having – amazing careers in the trades.
These careers provide:
- Higher wage levels than many fields women traditionally go into
- These careers require a lot of interaction with consumers, many of them women
- Yes, there is sometimes heavy work, but in residential service this is a small part of the experience
- These are steady careers – with work throughout the year
- While some stereotypes still exist, the residential service industry has become more and more women friendly
Mary Jean Anderson
Name: Mary Jean Anderson
Company: Anderson Plumbing Heating & Air
Years in the Trades: 36 years
Current Job Title: Owner
Her Story: Mary Jean was introduced to the industry in 1978, having started the business with her then-husband, Walter Anderson. At the time, she was working as a nurse, but went full time in the business in 1983, when she and Walter started their family. The Andersons worked together for many years, but divorced in 2000. They continued working together until 2004, when Walter decided to retire. Mary Jean bought out Walter and decided to move forward with the $4 million dollar plumbing business. In 2007, Mary Jean made a bold move. Like many residential home services contractors, she was compelled to add value to her business by offering more services to her homeowners. She branched out to heating and air conditioning. She bought a company called Air Best and opened it as a separate corporation, but still under the Anderson name. Today, Anderson Plumbing, Heating and Air has transformed their HVAC division and has hit $5 million in sales this year. The entire business will hit $11 million. Mary Jean has paid off all of the debt she incurred when she added HVAC. She has added on office and warehouse space over the last few years and estimates that by April, Anderson Plumbing, Heating and Air will be occupying the entire building.
Company: Gene Love Plumbing Air Electrical
Years in the Trades: Over 30 years
Current Job Title: Owner
Her Story: Tammy Ferris is a licensed plumber and a well-respected leader and mentor across the continent. Tammy Ferris and her home service team give back to the community by donating their time and expertise to people in need. They have contributed plumbing upgrades and repairs, sewer cleaning, and furnace and air conditioning installation. With many pet owners on staff, they have a special place in their hearts for Pets, Inc., a program to rescue, care for and find homes for stray or stricken animals. In fact, The Gene Love company “spokes dog” Bucky is now lending his time and talent to the cause by barking up publicity for the organization!
Ferris’ sets the tone for success at the top and it flows throughout her entire company. Especially the service technicians who carry out her charge to make people comfortable in their homes. “We are guests in every customer home and we want to make a positive impression from the moment we walk in the door,” said Ferris. “Our technicians wear shoe covers and they are trained to listen and respond appropriately and respectfully.” Innovation also drives Tammy Ferris. She says she loves introducing new products and services that can make life easier and more comfortable for Gene Love customers. Most often those products are also more efficient, saving energy and money.
Company: MacGregor Plumbing Heating Air Conditioning Electrical
Years in the Trades: 23 years
Current Job Title: Owner
Her Story: In 1962, John MacGregor, Julie Wieman’s father, purchased a plumbing company with a part-time employee and went into business. Today, MacGregor Plumbing, Heating, Air Conditioning & Electrical has 30 employees and served Northern Michigan for 50 years. Julie Wieman now sits at the helm of this $3.5 million company and vows to carry on her father’s legacy. MacGregor Plumbing, Heating, Air Conditioning & Electrical serves a community of 100 miles with two shops and three areas of focus; service, retrofit and construction. There are eight technicians on staff, three install teams and four construction teams. They also have an on-site sheet metal shop for custom fabrication. MacGregor invests in their community, which Wieman says is especially important in a small town. The company provides support to the Kiwanis, veterans organizations, baseball teams and a summer magic show for kids. Wieman is also personally involved in training her service technicians but sees value in having multiple instructors. “I think it’s good to have employees train – there are people who are really good at certain things and they should share their expertise,” says Wieman. “It also builds camaraderie in a trusting environment.” Wieman also found that it’s good for technicians to get a woman’s perspective on service. “Women make 85% of buying decisions.”
Julie Wieman was recently featured in Plumbing & Mechanical’s July 2014 edition. The article covers highlights in her career, and her passion for plumbing and heating industry made her an easy choice for president of the Nexstar Legacy Foundation. Under Julie’s guidance, the Foundation launched two major programs, Troops to Trades and Explore the Trades, which both aim to provide scholarships and other educational opportunities for those who want to enter the industry. To read the full article, please read the Plumbing & Mechanical publication online.
Women in HVACR
Women in HVACR is the first international organization for Women in the Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning & Refrigeration industry.
Our members are dynamic women making great strides in a what has typically been a male-driven industry. We are engineers, sales associates, business owners, trainers, support professionals and students representing manufacturers, suppliers or contractors in our trade. Most importantly, we are laying a path for a thriving future in this industry for other women. In fact, our potential is so high that many men in the HVAC field have joined our ranks and continue to do so every day!
Women in HVACR invites you to join our organization as we mentor and educate others about the vast opportunities available in our field, and provide ongoing resources for educational and professional development that will help us expand our existing roles in the industry.
Chicago Women In Trades
Founded by tradeswomen in 1981, Chicago Women in Trades (CWIT) works for women’s economic equity by
increasing participation in well-paid, skilled jobs traditionally held by men and by eliminating barriers that prohibit women from entering and succeeding in these fields. We provide support, advocacy, and education to tradeswomen; work to increase training for women and girls to enter nontraditional jobs; provide assistance to employers, unions, and other service providers; document workforce trends; and advocate for policies and practices that support women’s access to and retention in skilled training and jobs.
Check out their video below:
Sisters in the Building Trades
The mission of the Sisters in the Building Trades is to expand a network of active women that will affirm building trades sisters as a positive and growing part of the construction workforce. To increase the number of trades women through cooperative recruitment efforts and mentoring support for enhanced retention. Hold regular meetings allowing women to network and share their experiences; match mentors to new trades women; enter into partnership with disadvantaged women to provide encouragement and hope; and reinforce appropriate workplace conduct. Increase public awareness of construction careers; provide speakers to career fairs and other outreach opportunities; support recruiting efforts of apprenticeship programs; and use our skills in volunteer work.
Oregon Tradeswomen, Inc.
Oregon Tradeswomen, Inc., (OTI) is dedicated to promoting success for women in the trades through education, leadership and mentorship. Founded in 1989 as a small support group led by four tradeswomen (an elevator constructor, two carpenters and an operating engineer), OTI was reorganized as Oregon Tradeswomen, Inc., a 501 (c)(3) non-profit, in 1999. OTI was founded on the principles that women deserve and can attain economic self-sufficiency through pursuing careers in the building, mechanical, electrical, and utility trades while helping and encouraging the trades industry build up a diverse workforce.
Today the organization is comprised of nearly 400 members, three programs, an annual trades career fair for women and girls, and the support of trades industry employers. Please see the Programs page for more details about OTI’s programs.
Washington Women in Trades
Washington Women in Trades work matters, not just to the individual women, but to our whole community.
Washington Women in Trades (WWIT) is a community based, non-profit 501 (c)(3) organization
whose mission is to improve women’s economic equity and self-sufficiency through access and
success in high-wage, high-skilled careers in the construction, manufacturing and transportation sector.
This all-volunteer organization has established itself as a group of industry experts who
facilitate connections between the working woman, the ‘wanting-to-be-working’ woman,
prospective employers and government agencies. We have educated students about women in non-traditional trades through attendance at school career days, participation in community events and conferences.
We have encouraged networking, established scholarships and counseled women
through difficult work issues. Through hard work and partnership, we have had much success.
While we enjoy celebrating that success, we have much more to do toward helping women both attain
and retain high-wage, high-skilled careers. Unfortunately, the percentage of women in the construction trades is still dismal, and the need for trained workers is becoming nearly epidemic. We continue to strive toward equal opportunity and a strong community infrastructure.
Our most publicly visible project is the Washington Women In Trades Career Fair
held every spring at Seattle Center. Essentially an educational tool to introduce young women
and the general public to the trades, our 2010 event hosted over 80 exhibitors and had
an attendance of approximately 1,000 students and work-ready women. The fair features
apprenticeship and resource information, hands-on demonstrations, workshops and career opportunities. The fair was recently dubbed “The Super Bowl of Northwest Career Fairs”!
In 2007, we created a second major event, the Annual Dream Big Dinner, an awards banquet
and all round celebration of Tradeswomen. It’s also the moment when we unveil
the annual “Rosie” calendar, a very special project which features 12 women who worked
as Rosie the Riveters during WWII.
www.ibew.org/articles/14daily/1409/140930_women.htm (Article from IBEW)
www.itabc.ca/women-trades/overview (Canadian, has many different trades including industrial and automotive but can be sorted through)
Women in Trades (Australia)
Women NSW provides leadership on action to improve the lives of women in NSW. It does this by developing policy and working with other government agencies, businesses and the community on projects that benefit women.
Women NSW is located in the Department of Family and Community Services. It reports to the Minister for Women, Pru Goward MP, and is the key adviser to the NSW Government on issues affecting women.
Its initiatives are guided by the NSW Government’s policy commitments within NSW 2021, the State Plan. They include:
Goal 1 – Improve the performance of the NSW economy including and increase in the number of women employed in non-traditional industries
Goal 13 – Reduce homelessness for women/children escaping domestic violence
Goal 16 – Prevent and reduce the level of crime including domestic violence
Goal 31 – Improve transparency by increasing access to government information.