This project provided intensive customized technical assistance to eight employers and unions on the recruitment integration and retention of women in traditionally male-dominated careers, with an emphasis on Latinas. Employers ranged from police and fire departments to a cable company. IWITTS collaborated with the National Council of La Raza (NCLR) and two NCLR affiliates -- Chicanos Por La Causa in Tucson, Arizona and Youth Development, Inc. in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Funding for the 18-month demonstration project was provided through the United States Department of Labor, Women's Bureau, and the Bureau of Apprenticeship and Training.
The New Workplace for Women Project
The New Workplace for Women Project (October 1995-March 1997) provided intensive customized technical assistance to eight employers and unions on the recruitment, training and retention of women in traditionally male-dominated jobs, with an emphasis on Latinas. The Institute for Women in Trades, Technology & Science (IWITTS) collaborated with the National Council of La Raza (NCLR) and two NCLR affiliates - Chicanos Por La Causa in Tucson, Arizona and Youth Development Inc. in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Funding for the 18-month demonstration project was provided through the United States Department of Labor, Women's Bureau, and the Bureau of Apprenticeship and Training.
Working in high-wage, traditionally male occupations is an important strategy for increasing the economic self-sufficiency of women and the standard of living of their families. Through the New Workplace for Women Project, new strategies were developed for recruiting women, integrating them in the workplace and preventing sexual harassment. Project outcomes included:
- The Tucson and Albuquerque Police Departments increased the number of female recruits to one-third and 25%, respectively.
- The Albuquerque Fire Department doubled the number of females in one year's time, from 8 to 16, adding its first 3 minority female firefighters.
- Jones Intercable in Tucson increased the number of female cable installers from 0 to 3.
- The employers developed internal leadership teams of key stakeholders that assisted in integrating women into the workplace.
- Integration training and sexual harassment training were developed specific to each employer's industry, with a focus on the types of barriers and sexual harassment specific to women in male-dominated occupations.
- IWITTS and NCLR collaborated on Latinas in the Workforce: The Nontraditional Alternative, a publication describing the project model and the strategies developed.
The New Workplace for Women Project Model
Phase I: Assessment of Need; Building Support for the Project
A. Assessment of Company's Readiness to Integrate Women into Traditionally Male Jobs
- Interviews with key personnel
- Employee survey
- Focus groups
- Review of key documents (e.g. policies, recruitment materials)
- Review of equipment/uniforms/bathrooms/changing facilities
B. Involving Key Stakeholders: Development of the Leadership Team
C. Building Support for the New Workplace for Women Initiative in the Organization
- Presentations about the new initiative in staff meetings
- Use of newsletters and other internal communications mechanisms
- One-to-one discussions
- Letter from C.E.O. to employees
- Focus groups
Phase II: Workplan -- Development of Implementation Strategies
- Presentation to Leadership Team of findings from the assessment
Identification of what is working well and of barriers to the recruitment and retention of women
Recommendations regarding strategies to overcome barriers
Development of written workplan from the Leadership Team's assessment, with progress benchmarks and measurable outcomes
Phase III: Customized Technical Assistance & Training on Implementation Strategies
A. Recruitment of Women
- Development and implementation of a recruitment plan
B. Competency Building
- Skills training/physical conditioning/preparing for the tests
C. Redesign of Application and Assessment Process
- Resources for modifying the assessment process to increase the pass rate of women without lowering standards
D. Health and Safety
- Resources for purchasing uniforms and equipment which fit small-sized women
- Strategies for handling heavy work
- Bathrooms and changing facilities
E. Support Strategies for Women
- Educating on cultural norms
- Support groups
- Cross-gender mentoring activities
- "Survival skills" for women
- Forging of connections with other women in occupation
- Development and implementation of plan to obtain the buy-in of managers/supervisors/employees
G. Resources for the Development or Revision of Company Policies
- Sexual harassment
- Child care
H. Employer/Union Trainings on Successfully Receiving Women in the Workplace
- Front-line supervisors
Phase IV: Employer Institutionalization -- Development of Processes and Mechanisms for Maintaining Changes