For generations, the stereotypical contractor has been male (the term “handyman” comes to mind). Although today’s workforce has seen a tremendous increase in women joining trades. Women are creating contracting and construction companies, while providing opportunities for other women to join in.
In honor of the mothers, sisters, aunties, cousins, friends, and all the other ladies who came before us, today’s article celebrates the women who’ve done so much to pave the way for the daughters of younger generations.
A Brief History of Women in the Trade Workforce
Didn’t think you were getting a history lesson today, did ya?
Starting during World War I, women entered the workforce in typically male-dominant positions due to labor shortages. When World War II began, women were again asked to join the trades in greater numbers (Rosie the Riveter may ring some bells💪). New pathways for women opened in trade fields like welding, mechanics, electrical, and many more areas.
Today, women aren’t conscripted to working in trades like they were during the World War eras. Instead, women are free to choose their paths within the trades of their choices.
Despite this opportunity, women only make up a small percentage of the trades. In the 2015 Landscaping census, it was said that only 11% of the landscaping trade were women. Although most female landscapers have a wonderful experience, some don’t.
Lawn and Landscape said it best:
“Just because it’s been easy for one of us doesn’t mean it’s been easy for all of us, and just because I haven’t experienced harassment or hurdles in my life doesn’t mean other people haven’t.”
Paving the Way
There are many reasons women are entering trade fields. For Jessie Epperson, Owner of Concierge Outdoor Solutions LLC, it was a much needed change from her experience in the corporate world.
“I’d worked in the corporate world my entire career up until this point”, Epperson said, “and I wanted to do something different and independent and there was an opportunity to do something together with my husband.”
For Kristina Hill, owner of HomeShield Roofing & Exteriors, she initially didn’t even consider a career in the trade field.
“It was never talked about,” Hill says, “no little girl raises their hand and says, “I want to be a roofing contractor when I grow up.”
And although many women may not have had the opportunity to learn about construction, landscaping, roofing, and other trade professions, Hill is definitely making sure they are talked about. As the founder of Harness & Heels — Women in Roofing, a Facebook group across North America that focuses on educating, supporting, and empowering women in roofing, Hill has created a community for women to come together to learn and grow within roofing.
Growth and Experience
While the change of pace and freedom can be refreshing and much needed, it can be “kind of scary” says Epperson. Whether it’s learning industry terms, figuring out the ins and outs of what goes into running a business, or focusing on budgeting, there are a lot of things to take into consideration.
For Epperson, her experience was historically in fencing, but when Covid hit, she and her husband had to “be flexible” and have since incorporated landscaping into their impressive portfolio of services.
With over 1.2 thousand members and growing, Hill continues to pave the way for women in trades while leaving a lasting legacy.
“When you look at women’s involvement in the roofing industry, we make up just 0.5% of all roofing professionals” says Hill. “There are so many factors that can explain this gender gap, including unconscious gender bias, lack of adequate training, and negative perceptions of women working in roofing.”
Explore The Trades believes now is the time, as a woman, to dip into the trades. There are a lot of benefits, according to this Women In The Trade article:
High starting wages
Path to own your own business
Hands-on learning that is both satisfying and physically challenging
Offering of a steady career
Watch the video below to hear from Silenia, a landscaping professional, as she shares what makes the landscaping industry so rewarding.
Leaving a Lasting Legacy
For the women who came before our generation, entering the workforce came to mean something more than earning a living. There was a sense of purpose, identity, and pride of workmanship at what two hands and a little gumption could accomplish.
Today, women continue to pursue the paths of those who came before them in hopes of creating opportunities for those who follow. For Epperson, providing opportunities for her daughters is only half of it.
“I think the work they see us doing is a life lesson” she says, “they see how you can work for yourself.”
As for Hill, she sees a future of collaboration between male and female tradespeople. “When women (and men) in our industry come together to support each other, it’s powerful,” says Hill. “It can give our workforce a sustainable future when we see each other as assets. And to be frank, we need more assets.”
Generations before stumbled into innovation because of labor shortages. Today is different. We have the opportunity to break down barriers. Don’t let fear of change chase away amazing employees!
As women continue to lead by example, our daughters, nieces, granddaughters will come home more confidently and say: “I want to be a landscaper when I grow up.”🌱
For more landscaping resources:
- Four Tips to Up Your Client Game as a Landscaper
- Looking to simplify your landscaping business? Read this customer story!
- Why internal promotions will take your business to the next level