This week, in our “ Women’s History Month ” blog series, Radiant Plumbing & Air Conditioning spoke with Marie, who worked as a commercial electrician in Austin, TX.
Meet Marie – Commercial Electrician
Radiant: What got you interested in the trade to begin with? And how did you go about getting your foot in the door?
Marie: “I had started in the office working for an electrical company and I just decided that I wanted to try the actual hands-on experience. I think I’ve always been a hands-on type of person. The actual start to finish process interests me. I like being able to create something.”
Radiant : So when you decided to start working as an electrician, what was the response that some of your family and peers gave you? Did you get any feedback?
Marie: “There were mixed feelings. Some people thought it was awesome because there weren’t a lot of women who do this stuff. And then there was some who were concerned saying ‘Well it’s a male driven industry and they’re going to be hard on you’. So I had the people who were excited and the others who are concerned.”
Marie felt as though the “naysayers” gave her more purpose to strive and try her best to prove them wrong. She wanted to show them that a woman can thrive in this industry just as well as a man.
Radiant : When you started working in the field, were there any significantly different challenges you came across?
Marie: “It’s kind of funny[laughs]. I’m hispanic and there are a lot of hispanic men in the trade industry. They were a bit weirded out by the fact that I was working there and they didn’t want me lifting anything. Any time I was on a job they would see me carrying heavy rolls of wire or something bulky, they always tried to do it for me.”
[Recent photo of Marie]
For Marie, the profound confidence she had in her abilities gave her no hesitation in communicating with others that she herself can get the job done. After all, everyone in the field shared the same goals.
Radiant : So how were you able to shake it off and prove to them that you didn’t necessarily need their assistance?
Marie: “I simply had to explain to them that this is my job too. I’m getting paid to work and if I need the help I will ask for it, just like everyone else. After a while, they would ask me ‘What are you doing out here? Why are you not at home?’, and I would tell them ‘because I have bills to pay just like you [laughs].”
Radiant : What would you say to all of the other women who are interested in becoming an electrician or jumping into a trade?
Marie: “I would just say to prove them wrong. They expect us to be the weaker employee and to not pull our weight. But you just have to be strong and put 100% in every day.”
Marie stayed with her company for 5 years and was able to learn an abundance of helpful skills. Today she continues to work for a well-established electric company where she has elevated her career to becoming a Service Coordinator. Her experience shows, that with fearlessness and an eagerness to succeed, aspirations can turn into a reality.
Visit any of our other Women’s History, “Women in the Trades” articles to read more about the skilled women that work in these various disciplines..
- Alexis – The Apprentice Plumber
- Deborah – The Commercial Electrician
- Catherine – The Commercial Painter
- Lynda – The Custom Residential Builder