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A Short History of Women in Plumbing

The Women of Plumbing and How They’ve Helped Shape the Industry

Plumbing has been around for longer than America has. The Ancient Romans had plumbing systems, and they may not have been the earliest. However, history doesn’t explicitly state whether the plumbers of ancient times were male or female, although it’s safe to assume that most of them were men. Even today, in our modern and (striving to be) gender-equal society, men make up most of the plumbers out there. 

But that doesn’t mean that women in the industry aren’t growing and haven’t been leaving their mark for many, many years. Read on to find out about women in plumbing. 

woman Lillian A. Baumbach

Perhaps the most famous woman in plumbing, Lillian Baumbach became the first female master plumber at the age of 21 in 1951. She grew up learning the trade from her father, who owned and ran William J. Baumbach Plumbing and Heating in Arlington, VA. When she passed the master plumber’s test (which she did with flying colors), the other people taking the test were all men, and most of them didn’t pass. 

Lillian caught the attention of the world, did radio and television interviews, and received letters from all around the world. She wrote an article on plumbing tips for housewives and was even interviewed by Walter Cronkite. Her bravery and the very fact that she was in the plumbing industry told women and girls around the world that they, too, could get into other male-dominated industries in a time when women left the workforce with their first child. 

Ladies Auxiliary Committee for the NAP

ladiesEarly in the 20th century,  the Ladies Auxiliary Committee for the National Association of Plumbers (NAP) started as a social club. The plumber’s wives would entertain themselves while their husbands met and discussed the plumbing industry. They started off simply killing time and having a good time, shopping, dining, and riding in cars. But it didn’t stay that way for long. 

Pretty soon, the Ladies Auxiliary Committee turned into more of an activist group. They began lobbying for various causes, including labor laws. One notable campaign was designed to improve the sanitation in Texaco gas station bathrooms. Another was a campaign to improve food handling practices and grocery store sanitation. 

Today’s Women in Plumbing

Woman-owned plumbing companies are growing every day. Although there isn't a giant influx of women into the industry, the numbers are growing. More women realize that plumbing is a growth industry and one that they’re passionate about. This is partly due to the women who came before and partly due to the industry itself. 

Encouraging women to join the plumbing industry, and ensuring that they are welcome, goes a long way to populating an industry that is expected to grow steadily over the years. There are tradeswoman organizations, mentoring programs, and partnerships that all encourage and help women to become involved in the plumbing industry!

About First Choice Plumbing Inc

The folks at First Choice Plumbing Inc are happy to serve Gainesville, FL with 24-hours a day, 7 days a week. Their customer service is second to none, and their workmanship is excellent. They offer up-front pricing and are fully licensed, bonded, and insured for added peace-of-mind. Make sure to contact First Choice Plumbing Inc for expert plumbing services in Gainesville.