Josephine the Plumber and Other Great Women in Skilled Trades

Serving Brooklyn Since 1906

In 1963, television audiences were treated to a new role for women in the form of Josephine the Plumber. Josephine was a female tradeswoman who hawked Proctor & Gamble’s Comet cleanser.

Prior to that time, most women were depicted as housewives and mothers on the relatively new entertainment medium. But Josephine would open the door for women in the workforce, including the skilled trades.

Petri Plumbing, Heating, Cooling & Drain Cleaning celebrates Women’s History Month in March by taking a look at women’s roles in the skilled trades.

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World Wars I and II

During the First World War, many women took on roles in factories to replace male workers who had been sent off to war.

But it wasn’t until World War II that the depiction of women working in the skilled trades became iconic. The U.S. government even joined in on the campaign to recruit females by creating Rosie the Riveter. Rosie was a cartoon mascot who represented the average female factory worker.

Rosie became the symbol of the women who worked in factories to keep the nation’s domestic economy afloat while the men were fighting abroad. The mascot was so popular that she helped recruit more than 310,000 women to work in the aircraft industry alone.

And, while these female factory workers certainly kept the nation’s industrial trades running, their part was short-lived. As soon as both wars were over and the men returned, the women lost their jobs and had to return to more traditional roles in the home.

The 1970s

By the end of the 1960s, women started lobbying for Women’s Liberation, which included opening up careers to women outside the home. So, by the mid-1970s, women began demanding access to the blue-collar jobs usually held by men. This included construction workers, HVAC technicians and plumbers.

Women had been included in the Civil Rights Act of 1964 but had still not secured many higher-paying or stable careers. So, by 1975, women had formed the Women in Apprenticeship Program (WAP). WAP’s main purpose was to place women in skilled trades apprenticeships.

While many contractors initially resisted hiring women, years of litigation, federal regulations and changing times have opened more doors.

Turn of the Century

By now, women working as tradesmen is more common than ever before. But they still only make up about 4% of the skilled trades workforce.

Your Brooklyn plumbing experts here at Petri would like to encourage more women to enter the trades.

Help us celebrate Women’s History Month by encouraging young women and girls to consider lucrative careers in plumbing, HVAC installation, construction and manufacturing. These are jobs that pay well, have a lot of flexibility and won’t be shipped overseas.

If you’re interested in a career with us, give Petri a call at (718) 748-1254 or review our online careers page. See if we have an opening for you!

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