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National Apprenticeship Week: Earn as You Learn

During National Apprenticeship Week, Nov. 15-21, we called attention to the value of registered apprenticeships as a pathway for women to access better paying jobs. Through apprenticeships and pre-apprenticeships, women earn wages while acquiring the skills to begin sustainable, well-paid careers in industries such as manufacturing, infrastructure, cybersecurity, and healthcare.

woman and man at work
In case you missed it, on Nov. 18 the Women’s Bureau hosted a webinar on best practices for recruitment, retention and leadership for Women in Apprenticeships and Nontraditional Occupations. Panelists discussed their ongoing efforts to ensure underrepresented populations are included in the pipeline to good infrastructure jobs. Following the webinar, we shared a special video message from Vice President Kamala Harris marking the first nationally recognized Women in Apprenticeships Day!

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In 2020, women made up only 12.5% of apprentices despite being half of the U.S. workforce. Across sectors with low female employment, like construction, that number was just 3.6%. Find out how the U.S. Department of Labor Women’s Bureau is working to increase the number of women in registered apprenticeships and sectors with low female employment through its Women in Apprenticeship and Nontraditional Occupations grant program.

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On Nov. 13, Women’s Bureau Director Wendy Chun-Hoon and regional administrators Betty Lock and Kelly Jenkins-Pultz attended the Tradeswomen’s Taskforce Annual Conference to kick off National Apprenticeship Week. Women leaders from around the country discussed efforts to ensure the Biden-Harris Administration’s infrastructure investments support equity in employment opportunities for women.

On Nov. 17, Women's Bureau Director Wendy Chun-Hoon also joined a Congressional roundtable with women apprentices hosted by Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici, co-chair of the House Apprenticeship Caucus. 

Stories from the Field: From Apprentice to Tradeswoman

Read our latest blogs from women in plumbing who share their journeys into a trade historically dominated by men, the barriers to entry they encountered, and why they are encouraging more women to join them.
   leslie cotton 

“I think in general, the trades have not been presented in school as a valid path to a long, well-paying career. Particularly to folks coming from poverty who can’t afford university debt. Also, our society sometimes has a tendency to paint certain careers and activities as ‘male’ or ‘female,’ such as doctor vs. nurse, or plumber vs. teacher.” ~Leslie Cotton | Read her blog

christine barillas
“I am thrilled to build something, fix something or even diagnose a problem, but it’s not just the work. What I love more is the sisterhood and brotherhood of helping my fellow plumbers succeed. That is what my motto is: ‘I am here to make your journey better than mine.’” ~Cristina Barillas | Read her blog

A Closer Look at the October Jobs Report

U.S. Department of Labor Chief Economist Janelle Jones and Women's Bureau Director Wendy Chun-Hoon published an analysis of the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ October jobs report. They found that while women accounted for more than half of all jobs gains in October, there was a meaningful disparity in the labor recovery for women of color.

National Family Caregivers Month: "Caregiving Around the Clock"

caregiver with older man

November is #NationalFamilyCaregiversMonth and an opportunity to recognize the sacrifice of women, many of whom have left paid jobs over the past year and a half to care for their families. The Women's Bureau continues to advocate for a national care system to help build an economy that secures equity for women.


Transgender Awareness Week

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In observance of Transgender Awareness Week, Nov. 13-19, Women's Bureau Director Wendy Chun-Hoon and program analyst Marzy Bedford-Billinghurst participated in a White House interagency workgroup on safety, opportunity and inclusion for transgender and gender diverse individuals.

Veterans Day: Recognizing Our National Heroes

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On Veterans Day, celebrated Nov. 11 each year, we honor our veterans for their service and sacrifice. U.S. Labor Secretary Marty Walsh marked the occasion this year with a wreath-laying ceremony at Veterans Park on the lawn of the Department of Labor Francis Perkins Building. The Women's Bureau lauded its veteran staff members for their extraordinary contributions.


WB in the News

Observertoday.com published a short retrospective on the Women's Bureau, who initiated a series of national roundtables on women's issues in 1991.

Per Scholas, a tech training nonprofit, is launching a pilot program in February 2022, the Women in Technology Software Engineering Apprenticeship Program, to help women enter the field of software development. Per Scholas is a 2021 Women in Apprenticeship and Nontraditional Occupations grant recipient. 

Gina Rodriguez, Women’s Bureau Midwest regional administrator, penned an op-ed on the value of apprenticeship programs for providing career opportunities for women and ensuring long-term economic security for families. The piece, "Opinion: Advancing pay equity through registered apprenticeships in nontraditional occupations," appeared in the Traverse City Record Eagle, Wahpeton Daily News, Holland Sentinel, The Bryan Times, and Yahoo Sports.

We want to hear from you!


Participate in Advancing Inclusive Apprenticeships: A National Online Dialogue on Increasing Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility in Apprenticeship.

Join the conversation through December 3 and help inform future apprenticeship programs and funding opportunities.

Follow the Women's Bureau on Twitter: @WB_DOL

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The Women’s Bureau has championed the rights of working women and served as a convener of conversations critical to an equitable economy for women for more than 100 years.

Follow us at @WB_DOL to view our #FridayFirsts series highlighting pioneering women, and to learn more about the latest research, initiatives, policies, and updates related to working women and their families.