Carpenter, Local 157
Instructor, Nontraditional Employment for Women (NEW) and SEIU 32BJ NY Residential
“When I wake up in the morning, I don’t feel like I’m going to work,” says Maggie, a native New Yorker and journey-level carpenter. As one of very few female foremen in the industry, Maggie is a quintessential example of the strength and dedication of tradeswomen throughout the U.S.
Maggie was drawn to the construction industry after going to work with her cousin, a non-union electrician. After attending pre-apprenticeship training at Nontraditional Employment for Women (NEW) in 2005, she was swiftly inducted into the NYC Brotherhood of Carpenters (UBC) and completed her apprenticeship in 2009 without missing a beat. Throughout her career, she has been a carpenter on several major projects including the Brooklyn Watchtower Renovation and the rebuilding of the Whitestone Expressway. She is also building a small woodworking business.
Maggie has been an active and involved union member since day one and has held a seat on the women’s steering committee for nearly 5 years. Her energy and dedication has singled her out for other leadership and visibility opportunities. She has participated in the UBC’s Apprentice Leadership Development efforts and was one of the “stars” of the NYC District Council of Carpenters recruitment campaign, where her photo appeared in advertisements on local transit buses, Madison Square Garden and Yankee Stadium.
Maggie’s rising star hasn’t insulated her from the discrimination and stereotyping frequently experienced by tradeswomen. She says that a woman has to work ten times as hard to be seen as an equal to the brother carpenter next to her – something Maggie does by being in the minority of carpenters who also have welding certificates. “If one bad apple spoils the bunch, one woman who does not do the job like a man puts a bad name to all tradeswoman. This industry toughens you, gives you humility and makes you competitive.” Maggie passes on these lessons, along with other important skills, as an instructor at NEW and SEIU 32BJ NY Residential. She says, “My true passion lies in teaching and being able to pass on my skills to others.”
Tradeswomen’s Tuesday is a campaign to bring visibility to the nearly 200,000 women who are building our nation and breaking down barriers in construction trades. These women love what they do and want more women like them to enter their trades. Legal Momentum’s Equality Works project works with women like Meg to ensure that they will not have to face obstacles every day on the job. For more information on women in the trades, see Legal Momentum’s 2013 Report, “Still Excluded.”
If you're a tradeswoman who is interested in being featured in this series, contact Françoise Jacobsohn, Equality Works Project Manager, at firstname.lastname@example.org.