The industry with the highest ratio of men to women in Oregon is the mining, quarrying, oil, and gas extraction industry where only 15 percent of industry employment is female. Men dominate employment in the manufacturing sector, making up nearly three-fourths of the sector's workforce. Nine industry sectors in Oregon have fewer women employed than men.
In the construction industry, two out of 10 Oregon workers are female. Dodie Harsh is part of that 20 percent of Oregon's construction workforce. She started at age 19 digging ditches and laying cable for a communications company, and worked in a variety of underground construction jobs, as well as working in the auto parts industry prior to entering the low voltage electrician's apprenticeship program. After completing a seven week pre-apprenticeship program through Oregon Tradeswomen, Inc. and a boot camp sponsored by the IBEW Local 48, Dodie made it through the very competitive process to become an apprentice.
Now the company Dodie works for is responsible for running low voltage lines used for data, communications, security, and fire alarms in commercial and light industrial businesses. Dodie says, "It's great!" She likes working in an active job instead of sitting behind a desk, and she earns money while training.
Women hold nearly three out of five of Oregon's service jobs, and nearly two-thirds of sales and office jobs. Conversely, men are employed in more than 96 percent of jobs in construction, extraction, maintenance and repair; four out of five are in farming, fishing, and forestry jobs; and more than three-fourths are in production, transportation, and material moving jobs.
Service occupations include health care support, protective services (firefighting and law enforcement), food preparation and serving workers, building and grounds cleaning and maintenance, and personal care and service jobs. Women hold nearly nine out of 10 health care support jobs in Oregon and four out of five personal care and service jobs. Food preparation and serving related jobs also employ more women (59%) than men (41%). Men outnumber women in protective service jobs such as firefighting and law enforcement (79%), and building and grounds maintenance (63%).
In the sales and office occupations category, women hold two-thirds of Oregon employment, however, most of this is concentrated in office and administrative support occupations where women make up three-fourths of employment. Men outnumber women slightly in sales and related occupations.
Management, professional and related occupations includes jobs in management, business and financial operations; computer and math; architecture and engineering; life, physical, and social science; community and social services; legal, education, and training; arts; as well as health care practitioners and technical occupations. Though women outnumber men slightly in this job grouping overall, men have a larger percentage of employment in architecture and engineering occupations (86%); computer and mathematical jobs (75%); management (61%); and life, physical, and social science occupations (57%).
Oregon women are more often employed as health technologists and technicians (77%); education, training, and library occupations (71%); health diagnosing and treating practitioners (70%); and community and social services workers (60%).
Oregon Tradeswomen, Inc. (OTI) is working to encourage more women to explore careers in the construction trades through education, leadership, and mentorship programs. Rose Darke, now a steamfitter in the Local 290 union completed her five-year apprenticeship program two years ago. When asked why she chose this career field, Rose reflected, "I was working in an evening custodial position at 3:00 a.m. in a metro area WorkSource center and picked up a flyer that had dropped on the floor that read something like, 'Get the skills to pay the bills.' That caught my interest because I was struggling to make ends meet, so I checked into the program. I had been through a variety of training in the past, had completed a computer-aided-drafting certification, had tutored others in calculus, worked as a construction clean-up superintendent, done welding, and fought forest fires. I knew I could do it." Rose now works with piping used for high pressure steam, gases, and non-potable water. Her small stature is an advantage when work needs to be done in small places - crawling in a 24" hole under the floor, above and behind pipes, for example. "It's important to know what you're getting into. I love it, but this job is not for everyone." OTI helps set up work-site visits to give applicants a sense of the types of work they could be doing upon program completion.
Rose indicates that her favorite parts of the job are, "the paycheck and being in a physically active job with lots of variety. I'm always working with people; it's very team-oriented, and it's great to be part of a crew."
The earnings gap between men and women is smallest in the accommodation and food services sector where women's average monthly earnings are 83 percent of their male counterparts and industry average earnings are the lowest statewide. In contrast, the finance and insurance industry has the largest gap between average earnings of women and men, with women making 54 percent of average earnings of men in the industry.