40 years of Tradeswomen Inc.

Many thanks to Molly Martin for her research

The early years (to 2000 more or less)

Tradeswomen owe their right to challenge the construction and related trades sectors for equal employment to the Civil Rights Acts of the early 60’s and the impetus to demand access to these jobs to the Women’s movement of the 1970’s. Tradeswomen Inc. arose from these roots.

Many sister organizations laid the foundation for Tradeswomen, Inc.’s formation and contritradeswomen inc.buted to its early survival, notably Nontraditional Employment for Women, Advocates for Women, Women in Apprenticeship (WAP) and PREP, Inc. Women in Apprenticeship, started in 1976, provided counseling, information, contractor referrals and apprenticeship placement in a very difficult environment. Many successful tradeswomen who have become leaders with Tradeswomen, Inc. will tell you that they owe their careers to the staff of WAP.

TWI was the first tradeswomen-focused organization in the Bay Area to gain non-profit status thanks to the work of our founding mothers, Madeline Mixer, then Regional Administrator for the Department of Labor Women’s Bureau, Susie Suafai, then Director of Women in Apprenticeship and Juanita Williams of the Sacramento Women in Apprenticeship Program.

From its inception, Tradeswomen Inc. took its mission of advocacy seriously, pressuring the government, apprenticeship programs and contractors to enforce and comply with affirmative action laws. Long time partners in this effort were the Employment Law Center, Equal Rights Advocates, the Impact Fund’s Discrimination Research Center. TWI launched related support groups such as Rainbow Tradeswomen to support tradesisters of color and Journeysisters, a mentoring network. For a few years in the early ‘90’s, we partnered with Women Empowering Women in a pre-apprenticeship program that, unfortunately, left the organization in significant debt. Throughout the 80’s and 90’s Tradeswomen also published the Tradeswomen Quarterly in an effort to reach tradeswomen all over the country finally closing down the publication in 1998.