Skilled Trades

A History of Women in Skilled Trades: Then and Now

Skilled TradesMarch 03, 2021

The theme for 2021 International Women’s Month is “choose to challenge.” One way you can do that is by challenging stereotypes, especially as they relate to gender and occupations. While it is true that many skilled trades workers are men, women have a storied history in the industry, and more are considering careers in the field for their future.


During World War I, women took roles in factories to replace male workers who vacated their posts in order to serve in the military. Some of these women worked in skilled trades, working in manufacturing to help produce heavy machinery that was needed for the war. Others took jobs in the electrical field, and still others worked as welders, riveters, and engine repair mechanics, assembling trucks, tanks, and airplanes, which were also needed during wartime.

When World War II broke out, women again answered the call for support. This time, the government created the “Rosie the Riveter” campaign to recruit even more female workers as they were needed to fill the vacancies left by the tradesmen who were sent overseas to fight. In 1943, ads featuring Rosie helped recruit more than 310,000 women to work in the aircraft industry, and her image became an iconic symbol of working women—past and present. Their contribution to the nation and the war effort was unquestionable.

These women were early pioneers for females in the skilled trades, but most of them were only temporarily in this industry. When the war was over, the majority lost their jobs to returning male servicemembers.


Today, women join the skilled trades industry by choice rather than national necessity. In fact, women in skilled trades are in demand and the career path can offer job satisfaction as it creates an opportunity to build products and structures that enhance people’s lives. 

As more women enter the skilled trades, the social stigma of being a woman in such a male dominated industry is being challenged and stereotypes about gender roles are changing. Additionally, joining the field gives trailblazing women a chance to become leaders, encouraging other women to join the industry.

Male or female, the skilled trades offer opportunities for a satisfying career creating, installing, repairing and maintaining products that are used every day. Fortis offers programs at many of its campuses. To learn more about the skilled trades and how it might be a great career choice for you, call 855-436-7847 for more information or to schedule a campus visit.

Tags: KFblog