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Our Her-Story

Celebrating over 40 years of supporting women in the skilled trades.

SINCE 1979

Focused exclusively on the needs of women in the skilled trades.

Founded in 1979, Tradeswomen, Inc. (TWI) was one of California’s first organizations for women in the trades and continues to be one of the most active and effective organizations in the nation focused exclusively on the needs of women in the skilled trades.

TWI’s mission and goals are to:

  • Recruit more women into construction and related trades;
  • Promote retention of women in the trades; and
  • Develop their capacity for leadership and career growth, on the job and in their unions.

Over the course of our work,

  • TWI has published Tradeswomen magazine, the only national magazine written by and for blue collar women;
  • sponsored the first national conference for women in the trades;
  • designed and operated a pre-apprenticeship program for women assisted by funding from the Women’s Bureau;
  • and implemented a number of support groups and workshops for Bay Area tradeswomen.


In our 14th year of the Women Building California Conference.

TWI continues as co-host of the Women Building the California and Nation Conference, now in its 4th year with the Women’s Committee of the Building and Construction Trades Department, AFL-CIO as partners.

Among other current programs, TWI conducts a women-only pre-apprenticeship program for the Pacific Gas & Electric’s PowerPathway Program for women entering into trades careers in Utilities; TWI conducts general Entry to Apprenticeship for Women workshops on a monthly basis; TWI publishes an annual Tradeswomen Calendar featuring working tradeswomen on their jobsites; and TWI works with the Center for Domestic Peace to inform and prepare victims of domestic violence for opportunities in the trades. TWI is part of a regional collaboration with Oregon Tradeswomen Inc. and Washington’s Apprenticeship and Non-Traditional Employment for Women through a WANTO grant sponsored by the US Department of Labor. Through this grant, TWI provides technical assistance to area apprenticeship programs to recruit and retain women in their programs.

TWI works with a strong network of volunteers, with many TWI members holding elected and appointed leadership positions within their unions. As an organization, TWI maintains strong partnerships with State and regional organizations with critical linkages to the skilled trades including the State of California Building and Construction Trades Council, the California Workforce Investment Board, and the California Department of Apprenticeship Standards.

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Our 2018 Numbers

Women in California apprenticeships in 2018:

  • Total apprentices @85,000
  • 6.2% women total
  • 62,500 in construction only
  • 2.9% construction women
  • 2.8 % women apprentices in manufacturing
  • 38% of all women apprentices are in low-wage service sector
  • 8.8% women average excluding construction and services
Tradeswomen Inc. is celebrating its 40th year in 2019

Tradeswomen Inc. supports women in the skilled trades through outreach, recruitment, retention, and leadership development. Tradeswomen Inc. (TWI) provides direct services for women entering and moving through careers in the trades as well as technical assistance to contractors, unions and apprenticeship programs. TWI supports local, state and national policy to increase the success of women in these high wage blue-collar careers. 

Since inception, TWI has been in the forefront of advocacy on these issues. In recent years, TWI has joined in national advocacy to promote strong harassment and discrimination prevention policies. This national effort helped result in new Office of Apprenticeship Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) regulations as well as increased federal funding to implement these regulations and related gender equity in apprenticeship policies. 

TWI and the Building and Construction Trades Council of California (SBCTC) have been working with California legislators to improve opportunities for women in construction. 

Successes include policies and funding for women in pre-apprenticeship and new California EEO policies for construction apprenticeship programs. TWI continues to work directly with contractors, apprenticeship programs and unions as well as with policy makers to improve construction worksite culture for men and women.

Towards Our 40th Year

Women in non-traditional trades are still vastly underserved by our apprenticeship programs. As California grows the apprenticeship earn and learn pathway to the goal of 500,000, we need to focus on increasing women’s access into sustaining careers. Tradeswomen Inc. will continue to build the dream of economic equality one apprentice at a time.