If you are a female interested in becoming an electrician, you probably have some questions to clarify.
This trade is primarily dominated by male workers.
So what would your experience be like as a woman in this field?
Would you be treated equally, and would the nature of the job be an issue in the long run?
Based on the interviews with female electricians from different areas, here’s what they have to say.
Bad news: there aren’t many female electricians.
Good news: their experience of the job is widely positive.
Below, you will find some answers to the questions that you may have.
Will It Be Difficult to Get Career Training?
Finding the right career training should be easy.
It may even be easier for you to find an apprenticeship in your area than for a man.
This is because trade unions seek a diverse workforce, and many of them invite women and minorities.
It doesn’t mean you will be accepted easily; after all, you will still have to pass the interview and tests.
You may have to wait for a while before you get an apprenticeship, like other candidates.
The New York Times posted a quick bio of a female electrician from Brooklyn.
Her experience is positive, but she had to wait for a year before she could take a union test and get into an apprenticeship.
One organization that helps women to get jobs in the trades is the Nontraditional Employment for Women (NEW).
It is based in New York, but there are similar organizations throughout the country that you can reach out to.
How Will I Be Treated?
Working female electricians say they are mostly treated like everyone else on the job.
As long as they did their job, they weren’t treated differently by others in the workforce.
Some old-timers might be giving them a hard time, but it was reported that most of the older guys were treating them like daughters.
One woman reported that she worked in the corporate world before becoming an electrician.
She was treated by the executives there worse than by electricians.
Others reported that if they had faced any kind of sexism, it was the same thing they faced as office workers, waitresses, etc.
Mostly, women had a positive experience at work.
With that, women reported a few potential issues:
- Some women expected special treatment for being women and faced some hard times.
On the other hand, those who made an effort not to be treated differently had the highest work satisfaction.
When the rest of the team felt like women were there to work and went for the same treatment as everybody else, they earned respect from the crew.
- Many women said that guys offered to help women with the work or do it for them.
They thought they were being nice.
They said it was very important to know when to accept and when to refuse help.
Also, it was essential to refuse it most of the time, otherwise, they would lose the respect of the team.
- Some women mentioned favoritism.
There was a case when a foreman had a female crew member sit in the front seat of the truck while some senior members had to sit in the back.
Because of this, senior members didn’t like that the woman got special treatment, which made the environment more difficult for her.
Due to favoritism, which wasn’t quite her fault, other workers resented her.
So if any favoritism occurs on the job, it’s best to stop it right away.
- Many women said that it’s a bad idea to get involved with a coworker romantically.
- Others mentioned that it’s important to dress appropriately for work and not worry about looks.
Can I Perform the Required Work?
You sure can.
There can be some heavy lifting involved, with objects weighing 50 or more pounds, but there isn’t as much physical exertion as in other trades.
Besides, the longer you work, the fitter you’ll get.
I Don’t Weight Very Much, Is That a Bad Thing?
No, it can actually be an advantage.
Electricians often have to work in tight spaces, and being small, you can get to those places easier.
Others may ask you to do more work that requires a smaller person or hands, which would be more than you’re supposed to do.
But you should remember that bigger guys are also asked to carry a lot of heavy equipment than they are supposed to.
Your smaller size can bring you a special role in a team, so you can make a contribution that men can’t.
Is There a Place Where I Can Talk to Other Female Electricians?
You can talk to others on sites such as Reddit.
There, you can find collections based on subjects specifically related to female electricians.
It’s called Blue Collar Women on Reddit.
Mostly, people go there to share ideas and experiences.
If Somebody Gives Me a Hard Time, What Can I Do about It?
Sexism, racism, discrimination, and harassment can’t possibly be tolerated on the job site.
If you are experiencing any kind of marginalization, you should contact your apprenticeship or crew leader, or another authority.
Many unions have a special phone line to help you address and solve that.
This page is also available in Spanish.