NABTU’s Tradeswomen Build Nations program hosted the first of two webinars on March 5, convening tradeswomen online from across the United States and Canada. The event, which was free of charge, included a 30-minute plenary session and three panel-led sessions.
“Jobs like these used to be off limits to women,” said featured speaker Sheryl Sandberg, chief operating officer of Meta Platforms (formerly Facebook) and founder of LeanIn.org. “Now anyone with the drive and the skill to pursue these careers can do it, thanks to the women who paved the way and those who came after them—and that’s you.”
Sandberg created Lean In Circles specifically for union tradeswomen, which launched in 2020. Women who sign up are assigned into online groups made up of women from across the trades. The circles meet via Zoom to share ideas, concerns and challenges and find advice from one another. Sandberg reported that more than 700 tradeswomen have signed up so far, and the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive.
After the plenary session, Tradeswomen Build Nations participants were invited to click into three panel sessions. Since the sessions were pre-recorded, participants could simply load or replay any of the sessions rather than being limited to just one topic. Sessions included:
- Legislative and federal updates and the benefits for tradeswomen
- Lean-in Circles for Tradeswomen—mentoring and connecting over shared experiences
- Retention and Recruitment: strategies for tradeswomen to advance in the Trades
“The first thing I tell tradeswomen: Find yourself a mentor,” said insulator and Missouri State Senator Gina Walsh, a panelist in the Retention and Recruitment session. “It doesn’t have to be a man. It doesn’t have to be a woman, but find somebody who knows their craft. Let them critique you and let them help you… The best way to retain women is to make sure there are more women there.”
All panel sessions, as well as the plenary session, are available online for anyone to view.
The next Tradeswomen Build Nations webinar is set for later in spring 2022. The webinars take the place of a planned in-person conference that had been set for October 2021 in New Orleans but was cancelled due to a surge in COVID and hurricane-induced flooding in the city. North America’s Building Trades Unions plans to host its in-person Tradeswomen Build Nations conference October 28-30, 2022 in Las Vegas.