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April 29 2019

Rise of the Blue-Collar Woman: More Women Opting for Jobs in Fields Once Dominated by Men

by Charlotte Hays

More and more women are opting to work in fields that were traditionally male-dominated.

The Wall Street Journal documents this trend this morning in an an article headlined "Women Wanted: Blue Collar Fields Find New Workforce."

It introduces us to people like long-haul truck driver Kenyette Godhigh-Bell, whose job description would have been highly unusual for a woman just a short time ago:

Kenyette Godhigh-Bell dismissed any thought of becoming a truck driver years ago when it appeared too daunting to break into a job where more than 90% of workers are men.

“You’ve got this cowboy-boot wearing, cigarette-smoking, tattooed or whatever white guy’s job,” she recalled. Now Ms. Godhigh-Bell, a 46-year-old black woman in sleek high-heeled boots, regularly pulls her 18-wheeler to Nebraska slaughterhouses so she can pick up beef and chicken for transport to grocery warehouses.

She is among a growing number of women taking jobs in blue-collar roles that have long been—and still are—mostly men, including police officers, construction laborers and electricians.

A number of factors are driving the trend, including firms broadening recruiting efforts in a tight labor market to women being drawn by better-paying jobs to recognizing they won’t be alone.

More women are working in transportation, material moving and warehouses jobs. Forty-three percent more women worked in these jobs in 2018 than in 2000.

The number of women working as police or other protective service jobs was up 40 percent since 2000. Women in construction jobs is up by 23 percent.

The economic effect cannot be denied:

The rise of women in majority-male jobs reflects recent labor-force trends: Women have been driving the comeback in working-age labor-force participation, while participation among men ages 25 to 54—long the stalwarts of blue-collar jobs—has lagged behind.

And this trend could also have an effect on the wage gap, which reflects not so much discrimination as the choices women make:

Julie Kuklinski, head of Women in Construction, a Biloxi, Miss., organization that provides job training, said many women they assist had previously been steered toward roles such as nursing assistant, hairdresser and cleaner.

“Those are all admirable jobs, but they don’t pay a living wage,” Ms. Kuklinski said.

There were 477,000 unfilled manufacturing jobs in February and roughly a quarter-million open jobs in construction and in transportation-related fields, according to the Labor Department. Construction workers earned a median wage of $22.12 an hour last year. Truck drivers earned $18.66. Personal-care aides, another job that requires some training but not a degree, earned $11.55 an hour. More than 80% are women.

If this trend continues, it could wipe out the entire gender wage gap, which is a popular talking point for the left.

Where will they be without it?

I urge you to read the entire article.

 

 





Independent Women's Forum is an educational 501(c)(3) dedicated to developing and advancing policies that aren’t just well intended, but actually enhance people’s freedom, choices, and opportunities. IWF is the sister organization of the Independent Women’s Voice.​
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