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Women Pioneers in the Plumbing Industry

Women pioneers

Facts About Women in Plumbing to Celebrate Women’s History Month

In honor of Women’s History Month, take a moment and learn some facts about the contribution of women plumbers. Here are some facts shared by local plumbers to celebrate women’s accomplishments. 


Women in the Modern Plumbing Business

It’s no secret that most trade work is a male-dominated industry, and plumbing is no exception. Since modern plumbing became ubiquitous in structures over a century ago, men have mostly run the industry. The glass ceiling in plumbing was broken back in the 1950s when the first woman in the country became a licensed master plumber. Back then, the work was harder than it is today because one did most plumbing with metal pipes and hot lead solder. 

Despite this early success for women, estimates say that only about 5% of the total plumbing workforce is female. This statistic is misleading because it likely includes females in leadership or office support roles and licensed female plumbers. In the modern plumbing environment, conditions can be tough, but they aren’t as intimidating as they once were. Jobsite conditions have improved massively since the 1950s, and most plumbing materials are modern plastics and are joined with easy-to-use couplings. For women that are interested in a career with paid training and massive advancement opportunities, they shouldn’t overlook the opportunities in the plumbing field. 

Ladies’ Auxiliary to the Plumber’s Union 

When the National Association of Plumbers first began to hold nationwide conferences, they had one problem: how to keep the plumber’s wives entertained? Thus the Ladies Auxiliary Committee was formed. At first, it was run by men who selected activities for the union member’s wives, like taking a ride in an automobile and shopping in 1910. Soon, the leadership was turned over to the women whom the committee served, and they quickly got to work revolutionizing plumbing in the US. 

Their most notable accomplishment was using their lobbying power and influence to require sanitation facilities at gas stations and restaurants. In 1938, the group partnered with Texaco to have public bathrooms installed in fill-up stations. Texaco used the idea in their advertising, and it caught on in gas stations and restaurants. It’s hard to imagine a world without public sanitation facilities, but bathrooms are the norm worldwide due to the committee’s hard work. 

The Pretty Plumberlillian

The pioneer for women in the plumbing field was Lillian Baumbach, a young girl. At age 21, she sat for her master plumber’s test and passed on the first attempt, a feat that not every plumber can claim. She apprenticed through her father’s plumbing and was a regular on his job sites from a young age. Not wanting to be treated any differently, she usually would tuck her long hair into her cap and wear heavy coveralls to obscure her identity. When other men on the job site found out she was a woman, they were always surprised. 

The passing of her test gave her nationwide notoriety. Her feat earned her an interview with Walter Cronkite, and it garnered the attention of eligible bachelors. She maintained correspondence with 250 soldiers on the front line in Korea and was selected as the pin-up girl for an infantry company. 

About Daniel Cordova Plumbing, Drain & Sewer

Daniel Cordova Plumbing, Drain & Sewer has a “fix it right the first time guarantee.” Their technicians make plumbing repairs and installations easy with responsive emergency service and upfront pricing. Call today for fast plumbing service in Covina, CA.