The presence of LGBTQ leaders in trade industries is crucial to promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion within these fields. Historically, trade industries have been dominated by cisgender, heterosexual men, leaving a lack of representation and opportunities for LGBTQ individuals.
By highlighting the contributions of LGBTQ leaders in trade industries, we can not only celebrate their accomplishments but also inspire other LGBTQ individuals to pursue careers in these fields. More importantly, it helps break down stereotypes and discrimination that may have previously existed and promotes a more welcoming and inclusive environment for all individuals, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
Here are four LGBTQ tradespeople you should know this Pride Month.
Alice Parker was a queer Black inventor and innovator who made significant contributions to the field of home heating systems. Born in 1895 in New Jersey, Parker grew up in a household without central heating and became interested in finding a better solution to heat homes. In 1919, she patented a new gas heating furnace that used natural gas to heat air, which was then circulated throughout a home using a duct system. Parker's design was revolutionary, as it eliminated the need for wood or coal as fuel sources and provided a more efficient and reliable heating option for homes. Despite her groundbreaking invention, Parker struggled to find support and funding from investors and manufacturers, who were often reluctant to work with a Black female inventor. As a result, her gas heating system was never widely adopted during her lifetime. However, Parker's contributions to the field of home heating systems paved the way for future innovations and advancements in the industry.
Hattie Hasan is a queer female plumber who has made significant contributions to the traditionally male-dominated plumbing industry. Born in the UK in 1963, Hasan initially pursued a career in education but ultimately found herself wanting a change in jobs. In 1990, she enrolled in a plumbing course and began her career as an apprentice plumber. Over the years, Hasan faced numerous challenges as a woman in the industry, including discrimination and harassment. She persisted and eventually founded her own plumbing company, Stopcocks Women Plumbers, in 1990.
Stopcocks Women Plumbers is the UK's first all-female plumbing company, and it provides a range of plumbing and heating services with a focus on customer service and gender equality. Hasan's innovative approach to plumbing includes using non-toxic and eco-friendly products, offering flexible payment options, and prioritizing customer education and empowerment. She also trains and supports other female plumbers through her organization, the Women's Plumbing Guild.
Thomas Crapper was an English plumber and inventor who is often credited with popularizing the modern toilet. Born in 1836 in England, Crapper was apprenticed to a master plumber at a young age and eventually started his own plumbing company in London. Crapper's reputation as a skilled plumber and innovator grew, and he eventually secured a royal warrant to supply plumbing fixtures to the British royal family.
Although Crapper did not invent the toilet, he is often associated with it due to his many improvements to the design and his marketing efforts. Crapper is credited with popularizing the siphon flush system, which allowed toilets to be more efficient and effective at removing waste. He also developed various other plumbing innovations, such as the ballcock and the flush valve.
Chaya Milchtein is an automotive educator, writer, and speaker who is passionate about promoting diversity and inclusion in the automotive industry. She is the founder of Mechanic Shop Femme, an organization that provides education and support to women and nonbinary individuals who want to learn about car maintenance and repair. Milchtein has been recognized as a leader in the field of automotive education and has been featured in numerous media outlets, including such publications as Advocate, Vice, The New York Times, and Consumer Reports.
Milchtein's interest in cars and mechanics began when she was growing up in a Hasidic Jewish community in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Despite the community's emphasis on traditional gender roles, Milchtein pursued her passion for cars and eventually started working as a mechanic. She founded Mechanic Shop Femme in 2016 as a way to help other women and nonbinary individuals feel empowered and confident when dealing with car issues.
In addition to her work with Mechanic Shop Femme, Milchtein is also a writer and speaker who has published articles and given talks on topics such as diversity and inclusion in the automotive industry, the importance of car maintenance, and her own experiences as a woman in a male-dominated field.