Employment of Women: Survey of Issues & Initiatives — Higher-Paying Nontraditional & Green Jobs for Women

This entry is part 4 of 4 in the series Employment of Women: Survey of Issues & Initiatives

By Beth Hanson, with George Lenard
Stressed working woman glancing at clock showing almost 5 PM

Women’s Bureau Priority Three: Higher-Paying Jobs for Women

The Women’s Bureau of the U.S. Department of Labor is a government agency created to monitor and remedy barriers to full integration of women into the workforce. This series looks at the current priorities identified by the Women’s Bureau.

Higher-paying jobs for women is the third one.

The Women’s Bureau emphasizes several routes to higher paid jobs for women, including work in nontraditional jobs (traditionally male occupations) and green jobs. Additionally, breaking the “glass ceiling” and moving into higher-level management jobs is an important way for women to improve their employment status.

Nontraditional Jobs

Nontraditional jobs for women, such as those in skilled trades and the green sector, tend to be relatively lucrative, often having higher entry-level pay, generally between $20 and $30 per hour. The Women’s Bureau seeks to get more women into such positions.

A Women’s Bureau initiative towards this end is Women in Apprenticeship and Nontraditional Occupations, which seeks to “increase the number of women entering and remaining in apprenticeships associated with nontraditional occupations . . . by providing grant funds to eligible community-based organizations that, in turn, provide technical assistance to help employers and labor unions place and retain women in apprenticeships that are in non-traditional occupations.”

The Department of Labor defines a nontraditional occupation as one in which women are less than 25 percent of those employed. Nontraditional jobs include:

  • detectives
  • architects
  • aircraft pilots
  • chefs
  • computer and office machine repairers
  • construction occupations, including construction and building inspectors
  • machinists and small engine mechanics
  • truck drivers
  • fire fighters

What is considered a nontraditional job for women is changing over time. The Women’s Bureau says “many jobs that were nontraditional for women in 1986 were no longer nontraditional for women in 2006, [including] … physicians and surgeons, chemists, judges and magistrates, announcers, lawyers, athletes, coaches, umpires, and postal service mail carriers.”

Here’s a real “feel-good” video on women training for non-traditional jobs:

For More Information on Nontraditional Jobs for Women

Green Jobs

Green jobs are good for women for a variety of reasons.

  • Green employers are looking to hire, especially in areas such as energy conservation, waste management, and clean energy.
  • Green jobs can provide the chance to earn more because they tend to offer higher wages than jobs usually occupied by women.
  • Green jobs can give women greater satisfaction by providing them with a greater chance to find an occupational fit for their skills and interests.
  • Green jobs appeal to workers with a diversity of skills and interests by providing jobs in a variety of areas — from mathematics to mechanics to management.
  • There are multiple ways to get started in a green job. Training can be provided on the job or through educational programs and college degrees.
  • Women can start with any skill level because 86 percent of green employers hire workers without previous experience and 94 percent provide on the job training.
  • Green job opportunities are available for workers of any age.

“The Women’s Bureau is collaborating with employers, unions, education and training providers, green industry organizations, and other government agencies to raise awareness, expand training options, and promote the recruitment and retention of women in green career pathways.”

The Women’s Bureau has also made available materials (Powerpoints, fact sheets, transcripts, and audio) from a series of 2010 roundtables on green jobs on the following subjects:

  • Why is Green Good for Women?
  • Women’s Entrepreneurship in Green Industries
  • Recruiting and Retaining Women in Green Training and Employment
  • Green Building and Energy Efficiency
  • Women Working in Alternative Energy
  • Women Working in Environmental Protection
  • Funding, Implementing, and Collaborating for Green Jobs Training Programs

Some Places to Look for Green Jobs

More information

Our series, Green Jobs: What They Are and Where to Look for Them
Our bookstore, books on women’s work and careers
Our bookstore, books on environmental and green jobs

Series NavigationEmployment of Women: Survey of Issues & Initiatives — Workplace Flexibility

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