FOX VALLEY AREA REGIONAL NEWS: Calumet County, Fond du Lac County, Outagamie County, Winnebago County

Local unions work to close the gender gap in trade industries

Local News

KAUKAUNA, Wis. (WFRV) – Women have been working to close the gender gap in the workplace for years, but one of the final frontiers is working in a trade such as welding or steam fitting.

Local unions like UA 400 are working to close that gap and recruit women.

Maddy Dejardin is a second year steamfitter apprentice at Bassett Mechanical and is breaking down gender stereotypes just by doing a job she loves.

Dejardin said, “Honestly for me it’s pretty easy, I mean, I don’t see it as anything different, most of the guys are really nice and they’re just trying to help you learn.”

Dejardin started as a youth apprentice while she was in high school and earned credit to graduate by working as a welder part time.

She then earned her full time, five year apprenticeship after she graduated through UA 400, the local union for plumbers and steamfitters in Northeast Wisconsin.

She said, “When I was in high school I took a welding class and I fell in love with welding. I really like all forms of it.”

This union is working to close the gender gap in the trades by recruiting women to apply for their apprenticeship program.

Trevor Martin, a business manager at UA 400, said, “We’re actually scheduling and planning a women in the trades event, where’s it’s just strictly regarding attracting women in the trades… see what we’re all about and want to get involved.”

Maddy’s supervisor, Jeff Gyrin, said that anyone that works here can be expected to be treated equally regardless of their gender.

“When I even first met Maddy you can tell that she truly had a passion for this trade, she took the initiative and you can see that,” said Gyrin.

The union said that after an apprentice finishes their schooling they can make up to $90,000 a year.

“I would just say in general it’s a really good pay, we make really good money, and it’s really not that hard. I mean any man can do it, any woman can do it, said Dejardin.

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