Giving Compass' Take:
- Strengthening pipelines for women to become electricians would help support the labor shortage and advance gender equity within the industry.
- How can this boost in women electricians also help with divestment from fossil fuels?
- Read more about including women in the green economy.
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The trades in general and electrical work specifically are overwhelmingly male. Only 2% of electricians are women, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). It’s also a sector facing a massive labor shortage as the country looks to transition away from fossil fuels and toward electrifying cars and buildings.
According to Rewiring America, an electrification nonprofit, the United States will need one million more electricians to make updates like installing solar panels, heat pumps, and electric-vehicle charging stations to help the country meet its climate goals.
That is a lot of job opportunities for something so badly needed. As author and journalist Bill McKibben put it in an interview with the New York Times: “If you know a young person who wants to do something that’s going to help the world and wants to make a good living at the same time, tell them to go become an electrician.”
Getting more women working as electricians would help resolve a crucial labor shortage, but it could also help close the gender wage gap. In 2021 the median annual pay for an electrician was just over $60,000, compared to around $45,000 for all occupations, according to the BLS. But some master electricians earn six-figure salaries.
“There are 80,000 openings for electricians each year on average over the next decade just to replace workers who either retire or transition to different jobs,” says Sam Calisch, Rewiring America’s head of research. “That is all before the IRA”—the Inflation Reduction Act, Biden’s signature climate bill, which is expected to increase demand for electricians by creating incentives for Americans to electrify their homes and buy electric vehicles.
Experts point to a lack of investment in technical schools and a culture that emphasizes four-year college degrees as the main path to a successful career as a couple of reasons there aren’t enough electricians to meet demand. “We don’t do a good job marketing ourselves as an industry in general, but particularly with women,” says Allie Perez, a plumber and founder of Texas Women in Trades.
Read the full article about women electricians by Danielle Renwick at YES! Magazine.