Even in this day and age, finding a female millennial sheet metal apprentice is rare. Find one like 25-year-old Catie Rogers and you struck gold. Learning a trade in the overwhelmingly male-dominated sheet metal construction industry isn’t easy, nor is it common. What makes Rogers’ case even more unusual is her passion about the work and pioneering spirit to get more women involved. On her off time, Rogers likes to devote herself to evangelizing a career in sheet metal to other women, encouraging them to consider joining the ranks of the nation’s sheet metal workforce.
She has earned accolades from many throughout the industry for her passion to recruit women into the trade, she’s even asked waitresses if they’ve ever considered learning a trade and talked up the pay and benefits available through the union. “The goal is to get more women into the building trades as a whole,” Rogers said. “This is time I could be spending with my kid, but I’m so passionate about it.”
She’s had some success in her one-person recruitment efforts. Rogers has connected with female-oriented construction organizations in Chicago and Oregon, and recently spoke about HVAC work to a group of about 30 local women. She took a handful on a tour of Local 20’s training facility and the sheet metal shop at Poynter. A few women have decided to apply to the union’s training program.
“I’ll talk to anybody,” she said. “I want to be the girl I needed when I got in the trade. I want to make it easier for women to get information about construction.” Read more...