Rosie the Riveter

In the next decade, there will be an excess of 3 million unfilled trade jobs in the U.S. as a vast number of trade workers reach retirement with minimal successors to fill these opening positions. The rising national shortage of skilled labor means there is a wide-open opportunity in the trade fields to secure a well-paying lifetime career. While there are many longstanding societal expectations that careers in the trades like plumbing, HVAC, electric and construction are male-dominated, the tides are changing and opportunities are greatly increasing for women. 

In reality, these professions present an excellent opportunity for women because they offer meaningful work, longstanding careers with opportunities for growth, and high wages. Women's representation in many of these trades is merely 1% to 5% at the present time, but fortunately those statistics are rapidly changing. A continually increasing number of courageous women are stepping up with a mission to dissolve social norms and achieve success as skilled trade workers.

One of those important tradeswomen is Elizabeth Caldwell, a Senior Plumbing Technician at Varsity Home Service with an inspirational journey centered around her commitment to personal and professional growth. She has found great fulfillment learning and working in different vocations over the years, constantly breaking down barriers along the way. One such highlight was her experience as a Medic in the Army Reserve. Not only did this role enhance her decision-making abilities in high-pressure situations, but it also awarded her the confidence to tackle any challenges that came her way. Equipped with the valuable leadership, communication, and problem-solving skills she developed, she was well-prepared for her next calling in a career in the trades. Nearly a decade ago, Elizabeth made the bold decision to become a plumber. It was Elizabeth’s intellectual prowess and steadfast nature that kept her striving to achieve Senior Plumber status. She worked hard to overcome the stigma, learn her trade thoroughly and hone her skills. 

Being one of the few females in the industry did not come without adversity. There were times when others questioned her competence solely on the basis of gender. What aided in her triumph, however, was that she viewed her differences as advantages. For example, in situations where many men might rely on physical ability to solve a problem, she was inclined to instead use creative thinking to produce alternative solutions. This is truly an asset to companies because it facilitates an open-minded and well-rounded approach to problem solving. In fact, a 2016 study conducted by Morgan Stanley found that gender-diverse companies showed stronger performance in many critical areas including productivity, innovation, and decision-making. 

There's also another major factor people often overlook when thinking about a career in the trades - personality! Personality is just as important as hands-on skills when it comes to achieving greatness in these types of professions. It is vital for a senior technician to be able to establish rapport with a homeowner, translate technical processes into terms the homeowner can understand, and offer helpful advice for how a homeowner can protect and maintain their systems. Elizabeth exemplifies those traits and more. In fact, she says one of the top reasons she is so passionate about her job is that she enjoys meeting new people while helping them solve their plumbing problems every day! At Varsity, we've heard great feedback from homeowners who had a great experience with Elizabeth and were also excited to see representation of women in this field. Read more about this on Elizabeth's reviews page.

We at Varsity Home Service are proud to see the door opening wider and wider for impressive tradeswomen like Elizabeth in these industries. In recent years, there have been numerous associations formed to support equality and ethics for women in the trades, helping them overcome and continue to break down barriers. There are also a growing number of educational programs specifically aimed at encouraging females to enter the trades, with compelling scholarships and financial aid opportunities. This momentum in awareness and support is absolutely making a difference. Increasing female representation in the skilled trades is paving the way for future generations to close the gender gap. Women are working hard to prove that they can excel in this space—with an impressive balance of grace and grit. Their efforts are welcoming more women to maximize their potential in this rewarding career, and thus they are helping to improve these industries every day.