By SHERI GASSAWAY
Chicago – A group of about 100 Missouri tradeswomen made a strong showing at this year’s Women Build Nations Conference in Chicago to raise awareness and build support for women in the building trades.
More than 1,900 tradeswomen from 45 states and six Canadian provinces attended the seventh annual event, which was co-sponsored by the North American Building Trades Unions and Chicago Women in Trades. It was the second year in a row the conference was in Chicago. Historically, the conference has been held in California.
Prior to the conference, there was a “Missouri Meet Up” for the state’s tradeswomen, which was co-sponsored by Missouri State Building and Construction Trades Council, the St. Louis and Greater Kansas City Building and Construction Trades Councils and SMART Local 2 from Kansas City.
“Overall, the conference had record-breaking attendance,” said Alise Martiny, business manager for the Greater Kansas City Building and Construction Trades Council. “And we had double the number of tradeswomen representing Missouri at this year’s event compared to last year.”
There were also twice as many tradeswomen from the St. Louis area, said Beth Barton, president of Missouri Women in Trades (MoWIT). The organization raised $4,000 and provided scholarships to 15 local tradeswomen so they could attend the event
Some of the St. Louis-area unions that were represented included: Heat & Frost Insulators Local 1, IBEW Local 1, Ironworkers Local 396 and 392, Plumbers & Pipefitters Local 562, Sheet Metal Workers Local 36 and the St. Louis-Kansas City Carpenters Regional Council.
“It just gets better every year,” said Barton, who has attended six of the seven conferences. “There were so many more networking opportunities.”
The conference, which featured some 50 workshops, brought together women from multiple construction crafts to build leadership skills, learn strategies for overcoming challenges and unite around common issues.
Next year’s Women Build Nations Conference will be held in Seattle from Oct. 12-14. Additional details will be provided closer to the date.