Women’s History in Plumbing
The plumbing industry has always been male-dominated, yet this has not stopped some women from going against societal norms and overcoming barriers in pursuit of successful, satisfying careers in this predominantly male trade. Many of those employed in plumbing are still male, as evidenced by a low percentage of women in the industry. However, there are a handful of women who have made names of their own and who have paved the way for a new generation of women to make their marks in the world of plumbing. This blog will discuss women in the industry today and some important women in plumbing history.
Women in Plumbing Today
There’s been a revolution in the workforce since the 1930s when the second world war created a shortage of men in the labor force and prompted women to take up the mantle. Since then, there’s been an influx of women in the workforce, but while most take up careers in education, health, and medicine, few women make their way to the trades.
The plumbing industry, for example, has a low percentage of female workers. According to Zippia, only 5.3% of plumbers in the U.S. are female. However, that percentage has increased by 1.2% since 2010. Despite being underrepresented in this field, many women have successful careers in plumbing, both as plumbers and as business owners operating their own plumbing companies.
Ladies Auxiliary Committee for the National Association of Master Plumbers
Created in the closing years of the 19th century, the lady's auxiliary committee for the National Association of Master Plumbers was meant to be a social club for the wives of the plumbers in the organization. Ironically, the group started as a men’s club that focused on finding diversions for the plumbers’ wives while the men attended conferences. It wasn’t until 1919, when the ladies took over, however, that it truly found its meaning and purpose: as an agent of change advocating for the rights of women not just in the plumbing industry but in society at large.
The committee not only grew in size and scope but found a voice and influence in society, helping to shape laws that benefited people for years to come. They became activists for issues including the environment, sanitation and health, and labor, including supporting the Family and Medical Leave Act. These women didn’t stay in the shadows of their husbands’ careers but took an opportunity and made history by lobbying to change laws.
Plumbing Pioneer Lillian Ann Baumbach
Lillian Ann Baumbach made a name for herself by becoming the first woman in U.S. history to become a master plumber in 1951. Growing up in Arlington, VA, Lillian spent a lot of time learning the ropes of the plumbing industry through her father, W.J. Baumbach, whose influence in her life led her to pursue a career in a field that men had long dominated.
The novelty of having a woman master plumber made headlines in the U.S., and many focused on her looks, calling her the “Pretty Plumber” instead of highlighting that of the seven who took the master plumber exam, only she and two of the six men passed. Despite the attention she got for her gender, Lillian was a dedicated, successful, and pioneering plumber who paved the way for other women to take up plumbing careers of their own.
About Master Plumbing, Heating, & Cooling
Master Plumbing, Heating, & Cooling has over three decades of experience serving Cedar Rapids and the surrounding communities. They provide upfront pricing, 24/7 emergency response, and same-day service. Call them today for plumbing services in Cedar Rapids, IA.