Some heavy industries make push to hire more women

Reporter: Lindsey Sablan
Published: Updated:

FORT MYERS, Fla. Adrienne Donato is an ironworker who has made a successful career for herself.

“I love physical work,” says Donato.

You may find Donato 30 feet above the ground some days, welding and using a hand-held jackhammer. She even worked for the same company through two pregnancies.

“They were very supportive,” she says.

Hers is just one of many fields now specifically trying to recruit women and offering perks like a paid maternity benefit.

“They’re gonna make good money, but they’re gonna have great benefits to go along with it. So, they’ll have that health insurance, and a pension plan,” said Vicki O’Leary, the District Representative Safety and Diversity for Ironworkers International.

The trucking industry says there’s a shortage of drivers, but driver Jodi Edwards and the “Women in Trucking Association” is trying to change that. They created a girl scout patch to show trucking isn’t just for men. And Jodi is now part of her company’s recruiting campaign.

“They are trying to tap what is potentially an untapped field of employees, and that’s women. They can come and have a normal day job and they can go home at night,” Edwards said.

The International Training Institute says the number of women in its sheet metal apprenticeship program has doubled in two years.

And the Automotive Women’s Alliance Foundation offers scholarships.

Why the push for women in these industries and companies?

“It’s good to be able to show that they have a diverse workforce whether that helps them to win business or show legitimacy in the markets that they’re serving,” said Beth K. Humberd, Ph.D., a University of Massachusetts at Lowell assistant management professor.

Humberd, who works at the Manning School of Business and is an associate at the school’s Center for Women & Work, says industries need to attract young people.

“We’re seeing the retiring baby boomers that were perhaps a more prominent part of the work force in these trades, occupations, we’re seeing them leaving that work force,” Humberd said.

Donato went to a four-year college and found, for her, “hands on” was not working behind a desk. And she is now proud to lead the way for other women ironworkers.

“I like that it changes all the time. You’re with different people all the time, so you know, you don’t have that monotony of being in an office,” Donato said.

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