The National Center for Women’s Employment Equity (NCWEE) has had an exciting month. As a newly launched entity at WOW, NCWEE is expanding our work with our Opportunities for Women in Nontraditional Employment (OWNE) Initiative and intense technical assistance with 21 job training sites across the country, engaging national and state level policy makers on issues around women in nontraditional jobs, and working to bring together experts in the fields of recruiting and retaining women in high-skill, high-wage jobs and ending occupational segregation.
On Wednesday, September 17th, NCWEE Director Lauren Sugerman participated in a round table discussion hosted by the Transportation Learning Center (TLC). Lauren was featured on a panel discussing equity provisions for job training and apprenticeship programs in the public transit sector. Lauren contributed her technical assistance expertise in adding a gender lens to the full range of program activities, from recruitment to retention, with an emphasis on the importance of ensuring gender inclusivity and targeting in mentorship programs. WOW looks forward to partnering more with TLC in the near future.
On Friday, September 19th, WOW and National Alliance for Partnerships in Equity convened our sister organizations in a conversation with the Women’s Bureau’s Director, Latifa Lyles. The event featured representatives from DOL’s Office of Civil Rights, Office of Federal Contractor Compliance Programs, Employment and Training Administration, Office of Apprenticeship, and the Secretary’s office. The dialogue focused on the importance of nontraditional jobs and a focus on women being incorporated into DOL’s drafting of regulations for the new Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, WIOA, signed in to law earlier this summer. WOW shared our vision for establishing a DOL commission that would guide and oversee WIOA in relation to redressing occupational segregation in the job training system and encouraged the DOL to set aside resources for providing technical assistance on gender equity. The next week brought NCWEE’s Director, Lauren Sugerman, back to Washington, D.C. from her home in Chicago to present on a panel for the National Dialogue on Career Pathways hosted by three federal agencies, DOL, DOE and HHS. Lauren discussed how road signs along the career pathway system can often discourage women from entering high-wage, high-skilled blue-collar occupations. Her comments are captured in her blog on WOW’s website!
While Lauren presented in DC, NCWEE’s Manager, Katie Onachila, kicked off a fantastic site visit to our partner in our Opportunities for Women in Nontraditional Employment (OWNE) Initiative, Goodwill of North Georgia (GNG). The OWNE initiative is helping GNG ramp up programming to get women into highway construction, building maintenance and transportation warehouse and logistics jobs. Almost 50 women are enrolled and 30 of those women have been hired into nontraditional jobs. One woman called during our training session to report that she had just been hired by a local apartment maintenance company at a starting rate of $14 an hour. We toured their facilities, met their committed and expert staff and some enthusiastic clients, and conducted an interactive training for a lively and engaged group of partners from the workforce system and community agencies on recruiting and assessing women in nontraditional jobs and training programs. WOW facilitated an animated roundtable with a group of employers to explore policy and practices that create opportunities for women to enter and succeed in traditionally male-dominated fields.
We also visited our OWNE partners in Vermont at Vermont works for Women. Lauren participated in strategic planning and an employer roundtable with the organization’s top employer partners in the state. The roundtable covered strategic approaches to hiring, retaining and advancing women, best practices for gender inclusion and sensitivity in employer policies and practices and building cultural and gender competency among existing and new employees. Lauren was also able to participate in Vermont Works for Women’s Women Can Do Conference. This conference brings together over 400 high school girls from around the state to expose them to and engage them around nontraditional careers for women.
Operations Industrialized Centers of America (OICA) is also an OWNE partner, and WOW Senior Scholar Mary Gatta and NCWEE Program Manager Katie Onachila convened a training with four OICA affiliates with whom we’re partnering in our Initiative. The sites included OIC of South Florida, OIC of Asheville, Tri-County OIC, and OIC of Rhode Island. Participants from each of these programs came together at OICA in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania over three days to engaged in detailed strategic planning and resource development to help expand OIC’s already sophisticated job training practices to more deeply incorporate a gender lens.
NCWEE was also featured on a Women’s Bureau webinar on women in construction. Director Lauren Sugerman addressed the over 1,000 attendees along with representatives from the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, National Women’s Law Center, and Oregon Tradeswomen, Inc. The panelists described barriers women face to entry into skilled trades construction jobs and strategies to increase women’s access to and success in these fields. WOW shared practical suggestions for women’s recruitment, preparatory training, placement and retention from our Pink-to-Green toolkit. We also described how customized technical assistance for the workforce development system, community based organizations and industry partners can help to change the policy and practices that contribute to patterns of occupational segregation that still persist construction industry.
In addition to our current work, NCWEE is also thrilled to be partnering with the Building and Construction Trades Department of the AFL-CIO on a project with the Clinton Global Initiative. The project will create opportunity hubs for employment in the construction industry. Focusing on preparing 125 young adults in DC, Northern VA, and MD, the project builds on the Clinton Global Initiative and the Building Trades and Construction Department’s commitment to expand opportunities in apprenticeship–specifically opportunities for women.