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The US needs 1m more electricians to hit climate goals. Can it recruit more women?

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As a child, Cora Saxton liked to make things – forts, whittled wood carvings, a flying saucer even – so when she became an electrician at 49, it felt like a perfect fit.

“I like the puzzle-solving and being able to look back at the end of the day and see the physical result of your hard work,” she said.

This made it easier to bear some of the indignities – “subtle challenges”, she called them – of working in an overwhelmingly male field. “Little stuff, like people walking by you to find the boss on the job” not realizing she was the boss, having tools and ladders taken out of her hands by pushy colleagues. “I call it ‘roostering’,” she said.

Saxton, who now works at the California non-profit Grid Alternatives, thinks she had it pretty easy compared with other women in her field. She’s heard horror stories about threatening notes left in lockers, tools being stolen and destroyed – “even people getting their hard hats peed in”, she said.


The trades in general and electric work specifically are overwhelmingly male. Only 2% of electricians are…

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