When it’s time to make the call for a plumber’s professional help, many of us already have a general mental picture of the person coming to our rescue. The plumber will most likely have a jumpsuit, sturdy work boots, and a tool belt heavily stocked with wrenches and other hardware. In this predetermined image, you might notice that you may have already assumed the gender of your plumbing professional to be male. This is likely due to the fact that women only represent about 2.5% of plumbers nationwide, according to the 2010 report from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. Why is plumbing a generally male-dominated field? Will the trend remain this way?
Why Aren’t There More Women in Plumbing Careers?
It’s often thought of as quite modern and progressive to have a woman working as a plumber. However, it’s not a new concept! Women emerged into the career back in 1951. According to Robert Mader’s article “Stop Calling Yourself a ‘Plumbette,’” Lillian Ann Baumbach acted as a trailblazer into the trade by becoming the first female plumber in the United States. At age 21, she passed the plumbing exam and entered the field. The induction of the first female plumber did not go unnoticed. She was recognized by the media, bringing her a bit of fame. Over two decades later, another woman brought recognition to women in plumbing. In 1987, the first African American woman entered the trade. These women led and set an example for others to follow.
Many of the reasons why the field of plumbing has mostly been filled with men are related to culture and exposure. Women don’t traditionally consider plumbing as a career due to these reasons:
- Little to no exposure to the career as an option
When thinking of the future, it is considered more of a social norm to think about cosmetology or nursing, for example. The idea is simply not normally introduced to them in school. Knowledge about plumbing as a career and the trade is not commonly presented to young girls as a potential future venture.
- Hassle from potential employers, coworkers, and customers in the trades
Women in plumbing and other manual labor trades have often been met with unfair stereotypes about their capabilities. Women who’ve ventured into the plumbing field have been required to prove their ability. The misconception that women can’t be knowledgeable enough or strong enough hindered the confidence of employers and customers.
- Will the field of plumbing continue to be male-dominated?
It absolutely doesn’t have to be! Plumbing is a terrific career option for both men and women. It is a skilled trade that offers good pay and security. Women may want to consider plumbing as their choice career due to several benefits:
- Secure career with good pay
According to Stephanie Figy in her article “Women in Plumbing: Forging New Paths in a Male-Dominated Trade,” plumbers can earn a good living wage. $56,486 is the average salary earned by a plumber, with fluctuations due to geographical regions and experience.
- Job availability and demand
It is estimated that in the next ten years, approximately 75% of workers in the trades will retire. These job vacancies will have to be filled. The need for plumbers has not decreased over time, and no decrease is in sight. Both men and women should look to the plumbing industry as demand will be high!
- Rewarding vocation with no issue with gender pay gap
It’s no secret: many industries offer better pay to men than to women for the same work. However, this does not seem to be the case for women in plumbing. Due to the expected plumber shortage, there isn’t any room for gender biased paychecks. Additionally, many organizations recognize that this high demand is coming soon. To help, some are offering scholarships and financial aid specifically to women, according to the article “Women in Plumbing” found on ExploreTheTrades.org.
Interested in exploring the career of plumbing? Have questions about our team or how we can help? Call us at 317-271-5400 or reach out on our website to learn more about our story and our current job openings!