Not just friends that I talk to, but strangers in the grocery line agree that our country is on the precipice of changing this basic inequality. A just economy is one which is more women-centered. It is where our economic well-being is structured around the health and safety of families and neighborhoods. To be more women-centered is to create job opportunities that put families first and focus on the places we call home.
Springfield is one of the richest grounds for us to create more gender and racial economic equality. Women and people of color can grow this city by reusing Springfield’s wealth of raw materials and restoring our built environment. Restoring infrastructure, like water pipes, underground gas lines, transportation systems, healthy buildings and outdoor spaces is place-based work and is therefore accessible to women.
This year, the U.S. Department of Labor began a full-out effort to build Registered Apprenticeship programs as a means for low-opportunity citizens to gain access to dignified, living-wage work. Massachusetts can help grow a more equitable workforce by engaging community colleges in utilizing existing resources through preservation, material reuse and environmental health and safety industries that are inherently more women-centered than exclusive high-tech and construction fields. From this ground, women can bridge the gap between family and equal work.
Jenny Cavanaugh completed her Master’s Degree in Design and Historic Preservation at UMass by giving us her research and conclusions linking existing resources to women’s economic opportunity. Her Capstone Project featured OWW to illustrate the connection between women in the trades and Springfield’s legacy of buildings which sheltered and grew generations of the city’s workforce. Read her study. She calls upon STCC and DCAMM to open possibilities with resources already in hand.