20 Percent NOW: In MA, growth of six union apprenticeship programs exceeds 20%

 Apprenticeship Program WomenQ4  2018 WomenQ4  2019 Percent increase
Roofers Local 33 9 16 77.7%
Pipefitters Local 537 10 16 60%
Elevator Constructors Local 41 2 3 50%
Sheet Metal Workers Local 17 14 19 35.7%
Boston Electricians Local 103 85 114 34%
Plumbers Local 12 27 35 29.6%

2020 is a benchmark year for the Policy Group on Tradeswomen’s Issues. We set a goal of 20% by 2020, a high target intended to spur progress, after years of minimal progress under more moderate goals.

PGTI’s strategy of aiming high, implementing industry-informed best practices, and integrating supply and demand for diverse workers has more than moved the needle: from 2012 to present, the percent of women in MA union apprenticeship programs has increased every year. Today the percentage of women exceeds 20 percent in two union apprenticeships:  the Boston Plasterers & Cement Masons Local 534 (21.9%) and the Hoisting and Portable Engineers Local 98 in Western MA (27.3%). Currently, 9.5% of all union apprentices in Massachusetts are women. 

2019 Q4 Current demographics of women and minority participants in Registered Apprenticeship Programs in Massachusetts front page

From 2018-2019,  six apprenticeship programs increase their count of women by 20% or more. The licensed trades made key and significant gains: Pipefitters Local 537 increased by 60%, IBEW Local 103 by 34% and Plumbers Local 12 by 29.6%,

#20PercentNOW: Share your 20% achievements

Throughout this year, we will be highlighting programs and projects that have reached, exceeded or increased by 20% on “Twenty Percent Day,” a social media campaign in which we will release a new 20% statistic regularly to showcase progress of PGTI’s labor, apprenticeship and contractor partners.  If you have a 20% achievement that you would like PGTI to highlight on “Twenty Percent Day,” please email us at tradeswomenissues@gmail.com.



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Leading the Nation: 9.22% women in union apprenticeship programs

2019 Q3 Current demographics of women and minority participants in Registered Apprenticeship Programs in Massachusetts
The latest data is in and 9.22% of union trade apprentices in Massachusetts are now women. This means Massachusetts has the highest percentage of women in union apprenticeships than anywhere in the US. This is despite the national US average of 3.4%. We landed the top spot this quarter by pulling ahead of Oregon, another state implementing strategies to recruit and retain women in the trades.
The supply of women workers is in the union sector, and is growing steadily. 95% of women in trade apprenticeship are in joint union apprenticeship programs.  The number of women MA registered apprenticeship continues to increase, while the numbers for non-union programs remain flat.


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Gender equity in the construction workforce: A proven framework for crushing the barriers

As we have said at every PGTI meeting for 11 years, there is no silver bullet to crushing the barriers to women’s access to good jobs in the trades and to reaching the goal of 20% by 2020. But there are strategies, best practices and game changers that move the needle faster than others. Below is our most recent “one pager.” Adapted from the success stories of the Canterbury Rebuild in New Zealand –where women reached 17% of the construction workforce –and informed by our work in Massachusetts and the inspiring work of stakeholders in Portland, OR led by Oregon Tradeswomen, Inc., the five strategies included in the Diversity Framework can be laid over all diversity efforts from pre-apprenticeship to monitoring workforce compliance and supporting retention. We believe these principles can substantially accelerate progress in opening the trades to women. Let us know what you think.

Download here.proven framework

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2018 Apprentice Data: 26.45% increase in women apprentices in MA union JATCs


The Division of Apprentice Standards’ 2018 year-end numbers for Registered Apprentices demonstrated the increase in women apprentices in joint union programs that the industry has been feeling in the field.

  • Over 100 women built the MGM Casino in Springfield.
  • Over 300 women are working at Encore in Everett.
  • The UMass Building Authority (UMBA) has three Access and Opportunity Committees  (AOCs) monitoring diversity on its campuses and is planning a new one at UMass Dartmouth.
  • The City of Boston has raised its target to 12% women’s hours.

The demand for tradeswomen has reached record highs in the state and the data shows that the joint apprenticeship programs have stepped up to address the demand over the past year. The full year-end 2018 report, including data on each JATC, can be downloaded here.

In the spirit of crushing the barriers to our goal of 20% tradeswomen by 2020, we would like to acknowledge the 14 JATCs across the state that increased the number of women apprentices in their program by greater than 20%.

over 20% in 2018



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Women First! Gender diversity in the construction workforce increases racial diversity

Beginning in 1983, Boston’s Resident Jobs Policy (BRJP) required workforce diversity targets on all public construction projects and any private construction in the city over 100,000 sq. feet. The original targets were 10% women’s work hours, 40% “minority” hours and 25% resident hours. As of January 2018, the targets have been raised to 12% women’s hours, 40% people of color’s hours and 51% resident hours and the threshold for private work was lowered to 50,000 sq. Enforcement of the Ordinance has been weak, but over the past decade, labor and community groups have been engaged with the City to strengthen both the targets and enforcement strategies. In 2012, compliance data were put online and in 2016, data were posted in searchable and downloadable format.*

Accessible data have made it possible to examine the question of the impact of targets on the most disadvantaged population in the construction workforce, women of color. The data clearly show that women of color have consistently worked the majority of tradeswomen’s hours in the City of Boston for many years.

Screenshot 2018-11-30 12.26.07

Screenshot 2018-11-30 11.46.25

A review of historical data from before 2013 supports the conclusion that tradeswomen of color are working the majority of tradeswomen’s hours in Boston. The 2013 report on the implications of Boston’s resident targets, (Thompson, J, “No More Excuses”), found that, of the hours worked by tradeswomen who were also residents of Boston, 63% were worked by women of color.

We conclude that in Boston, Women First!—a strategy which prioritizes meeting gender targets– privileges tradeswomen of color and increases racial diversity in the construction workforce.

Download the PGTI one-pager “Women First! Gender diversity in the construction workforce increases racial diversity” here.

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