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Teila Allmond and Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry Secretary Nancy Walker pose on Nov. 9, 2023 with high school students who are participating in the Rosie’s Girls program. Photo courtesy of the Shapiro administration.

Teila Allmond was raised by strong women.

It was in her West Philadelphia home that the girl who would become an electrician learned what it meant to pursue her passion and to not only survive in a male-dominated field but to lead in one.

“Very confident women were the foundation that I have,” Allmond said. “I take some of those tidbits from them, where they weren’t afraid to enter a career that in some contexts may not have been intended for them.

“One of my aunts was a truck driver,” Allmond continued. “My mom worked for IBM at a time when it wasn’t really expected of someone like her to work in those areas.”

Inspired by the women surrounding her, Allmond went on to excel in school and study electrical engineering and ultimately became an electrician about eight years ago. Now the 31-year-old is a union leader who is championing efforts to expand opportunities for women in the electrical field, in which just 2.9% of the workforce was women in 2023.

Allmond is the recruitment coordinator and instructor for Rosie’s Girls, a union-led program designed to increase the number of women in the building and construction trades.

Rosie’s Girls — named for Rosie the Riveter, the iconic image representing women working in manufacturing during World War II — launched in 2022 with a $394,383 state grant. It operates through Apprentice Training for the Electrical Industry, a program that’s part of Philadelphia Local 98 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers union.

As part of the initiative, 11th and 12th grade students from Chester, Delaware, Montgomery, and Philadelphia counties attend classes introducing them to the electrical field, as well as to other career paths in the building and construction trades. The program is free for students.

““We want to be able to speak to that and say that women are just as valuable in this industry as men have been, but also as women have been. That’s the point of Rosie’s Girls,” Allmond said. 

In the past year, 12 students have graduated from the program, which continues to garner praise. In August, Gov. Josh Shapiro’s administration awarded $115,169 in grant funding for Rosie’s Girls, and Allmond was U.S. Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon’s guest at President Joe Biden’s State of the Union address this month.

Teila Allmond, the recruitment coordinator and instructor for Rosie's Girls, with U.S. Reps. Hakeem Jeffries and Mary Gay Scanlon at the State of the Union on March 7, 2024.
Teila Allmond, the recruitment coordinator and instructor for Rosie’s Girls, with U.S. Reps. Hakeem Jeffries and Mary Gay Scanlon at the State of the Union on March 7, 2024. Photo by Brandan O’Hara of House Creative Services.

When Scanlon announced Allmond as her State of the Union guest, the congresswoman noted that the federal Bipartisan Infrastructure Law is creating job opportunities for people in the building and construction trades. She said those jobs should go to people who have been historically underrepresented in these fields, including women, and specifically women of color.

Brian Myers, the training director with IBEW Local 98, said it’s long past due that the electrical field tackle its gender imbalance.

“The students in our ‘Rosie’s Girls’ pre-apprenticeship program are not just learning the electrical trade. They are dismantling the outdated blueprint of industry gender roles, proving that skill knows no gender,” Myers said in a press release issued by the Shapiro administration in November.

Allmond emphasized that Rosie’s Girls is about far more than just increasing the number of women in the industry. It’s about showing high school students what their futures can be and providing support as they explore those opportunities.

“You don’t have to go the route of college or becoming a lawyer if you don’t want to,” Allmond said. “You can still have a viable career as an electrician.”

Additionally, as Allmond works with the students, she forms a bond with them that provides important support as the teenagers navigate entering adulthood.

“I have a connection with each girl that participated individually,” Allmond said. “It’s something where they have my number, and they’ll text me if they have a question, even to this day. And it’s not always electrical related. We talk about things from how do you apply for a marriage license to how do I pay a parking ticket if I get one? It’s also just having a connection with them.”

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