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The Women Who Pioneered in Plumbing: A Short History

The Women Who Have Helped Shape the Plumbing Industry

In today’s world, women only make up 1.5% of the plumbing workforce in America. Of course, that may seem like a small number, but it is no small accomplishment. Just fifty years ago, that number would be practically nonexistent. But, in the last century women have become recognized as an invaluable population for the plumbing industry to invest in. Meet the women who pioneered the path for today’s female plumbing experts!

Meet Lillian Ann Baumbach

Lillian BaumbachIn 1951, women weren’t known for doing trade work. The post-war boom of the 1950s saw women staying home to raise families or doing secretarial work. But, Lillian Ann Baumbach wasn’t content to sit around as the secretary in her father’s plumbing shop. Since the age of 12, Lillian was accompanying W.J. Baumbach on his plumbing work, and in 1951 she decided it was time to take up the family trade.

Lillian became the first woman ever to pass the Master Plumber’s exams. The course is notoriously difficult to this day, but Lillian passed the test when several of her male classmates could not. Her success made her famous almost overnight. Her bombshell looks and can-do attitude, along with a gorgeous pin-up photo, sent Lillian into international fame as “The Pretty Plumber.” Her image graced a U.S. Korean Army Base as their pin-up girl of choice, and Lillian began receiving mail from penpals asking her for plumbing advice and even for marriage! 

Lillian became the first woman to master the plumbing trade, but she certainly wasn’t the last!

Discover the Ladies Auxiliary Committee for the National Association of Plumbers

Ladies Auxiliary Committee for the National Association of PlumbersIn 1910, the wives of the men in the National Association of Master Plumbers enjoyed their husbands’ national conference by getting together and taking an automobile ride and other social events. This was the beginning of the Ladies Auxiliary Committee for the National Association of Plumbers. By 1919, the club became a center for activism and equality in the United States.

The auxiliary devoted their efforts towards subjects that would better the health, sanitation, and labor of the United States. Some of their notable successes include the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and the 1938 Texaco Gas station sanitation program. It’s thanks to the auxiliary that many restaurants, grocery stores, and businesses are required to have sanitation facilities. The program still exists to this day as part of the Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors’ National Auxiliary and continues to raise money and awareness for social causes.

Learn About Women in Plumbing Today

Today’s world is more welcoming to women in the trades. The World Plumbing Council has recognized the potential of women as an untapped resource for filling the need for plumbers in the world today. 

Women continue to pioneer in the trade. Adrienne Bennett is one such pioneer, who is the first Black female master plumber in the world. Bennett now runs the Detroit-based construction titan Bekari LLC with her family and works with such industrial titans as Ford. Foundations such as Tools and Tiaras have created workshops, seminars, and classes to introduce young women to the trades in middle and high school. 

Plumbing is no longer just a “man’s world.” Women like Lillian Baumbach are making waves and showing that women can do what was once considered only a man’s job and that they can succeed at doing it!

About Master Plumbing, Heating & Cooling

Plumbing problems don’t abide by a 9 to 5 schedule, and that’s why Master Plumbing, Heating & Cooling is ready to handle them 24/7. Homeowners can expect affordable solutions, on-time services, and friendly technicians for every project when you work with Master Plumbing, Heating & Cooling. Call today to schedule plumbing service in Cedar Rapids, IA!