Educational sessions strengthen pathway for women in the trades

Aug. 11, 2023
Xylem’s Goulds Water Technology hosted the first female-only option of its Residential Water System Product Application & Troubleshooting course in June 2023.

Even while women have historically been underrepresented in the water sector, there is a growing body of research that shows women can be of incredible value within this industry. According to Women in Water, research shows that attracting more female candidates can bring numerous benefits to water-related companies, including increased financial productivity, greater innovation and improved customer satisfaction. 

While there is evidence to suggest that the proportion of female water professionals has grown in the past few years, women nonetheless remain an untapped pool of talent. In fact, just 20% of all workers recruited to water institutions are women.  

So, why exactly do these barriers exist and what are industry partners doing to change that?  

From getting the word out about opportunities, to supporting women getting involved in traditionally male-dominated professions through specific training and networking opportunities, recruitment challenges are many. Water technology companies, utilities and related industries, though, are seeking to change that, starting with simple, actionable measures to overcome these stereotypes and related barriers. Outreach campaigns, training and development programs, and scholarships for women in STEM studies are just a few examples of tactics that can be employed.  

Creating opportunity in the water industry

Recognizing the tremendous opportunity to bring more women into skilled trade jobs to boost the industry’s long-term health, Xylem’s Goulds Water Technology is doing its own part through industry education opportunities targeted specifically to women. For the first time ever, women took over the Goulds Water Technology Factory School in June 2023 when they hosted the first female-only option of their Residential Water System Product Application & Troubleshooting course.  

Designed to provide a pipeline for women in the trades, the curriculum of this three-day course remained the same as the traditional course offering but the focus of the female-only option sought to empower women in a supportive setting, where they felt comfortable asking questions and sharing their experiences in the field alongside their fellow peers. This more tailored approach drew on the unique experiences and challenges women have faced working in traditionally male-dominated industries. 

Once announced, registration for the women-only training filled up, with 25 from around the country ultimately enrolled in the class. Throughout the training, the women attendees supported each other, sharing valuable insights from their own work experiences and building a network of professionals to reach out to in the future. 

While Jennifer Gould with Gould Well Drilling Inc. in Lyndonville, Vermont, has attended other Factory School trainings, she found the female-only course a valuable addition. 

“There was a great advantage to come to this,” Gould said. “It was interesting to see with the women-only aspect and how the women were able to have the instructor bridge several topics so they were more appropriate for the attendees.”

Deanna Crum with Sam Crum Water Well Drilling in Hemet, California, had planned to sign up for the standard Residential Water System Product Application & Troubleshooting course before learning about the women-only offering.  

“I was stoked,” she said. “... I liked the women-only option because I think we do tend to learn differently.”  

Gould agreed, noting that both times she attended the Goulds Water Technology Factory School previously, she was the only woman enrolled. 

“This has been really good,” she said. “I think we covered a lot of topics that helped the women understand some of the challenges in the different things we do. There were only a few of us that were actual well drillers and pump installers, so it helped give the others a little more context.” 

Back to basics

The Goulds Water Technology Factory School is typically open to distributors, dealers and Original Equipment Manufacturers with at least one year of industry experience. The courses, held at their training facility in Seneca Falls, New York, cover an extensive range of product lines and related systems, while offering valuable hands-on training and troubleshooting skills. 

Along with learning how to size pumps, different applications and installation and troubleshooting, attendees had the opportunity to build hygiene kits as part of a Xylem Watermark project. Goulds Water Technology also encouraged the women to take part in a panel discussion on the unique experiences and challenges women face in the industry. 

Based on the success of its inaugural female-only training, Goulds Water Technology is planning more women-focused education programming to provide support and bring awareness to opportunities for women in the water sector. 

About the Author

Tom Stephan

Tom Stephan is a training manager for Goulds Water Technology.

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