Adrienne Bennett: Master Plumber
Anytime someone achieves a "first," it is something to be celebrated. Too often, jobs and roles become stratified by gender, age, and race. This causes negative feedback of stereotypes that often prevent people who fall outside the expectations from attempting to break into a role. If it weren't for "firsts," there would be no progress in integrating fields and stimulating their growth by introducing new viewpoints.
Since its inception, the plumbing industry has been overwhelmingly male-dominated. Even with decades of attempts to get women involved, female involvement in the trade tops at just below 3%. While the glass ceiling was shattered for women in the 1950s, black women didn't make inroads into the plumbing industry until 1987 when Adrienne Bennett became the first black woman to earn the title of a master plumber. Here is her story in celebration of Black History Month.
How She Got Her Start
Adrienne Bennett was the fourth of eight siblings. A lifelong resident of Detroit, she knew early on that she was interested in working with her hands and her mind. She remembers putting together models of the Apollo spacecraft in her spare time and excelled in math and science.
During high school, she realized her dream of becoming an engineer, so she set her sights on college and found programs to help her achieve her goals. However, after a racially-charged incident, she quit the program and sought other avenues.
Apprenticeship Through Master Certifications
After the biggest setback she had ever experienced, Bennett crossed paths with a recruiter looking for women interested in the plumbing field. Enticed by the starting salary and on-the-job training, she obtained federal grants that funded her apprenticeship. Before turning 30, she had completed her apprenticeship and started working as a journeyman. Despite harsh conditions and sexism, she always maintained a positive outlook and worked hard to push forward.
By 1987, Bennett had worked long enough to make her eligible for the master plumber test, which she passed, becoming the first black woman in the nation to hold that title. As a master plumber, she worked in different capacities, including project management, plumbing inspection, and code enforcement for the City of Detroit.
After all of her achievements, what was left to do? Why not start her own business? After some health setbacks that took her out of the game, she returned and started her own plumbing company with her son. The family business quickly landed large contracts working on projects like the Little Caesars Arena and local housing projects.
Bennett continues to bring a hard-working spirit to her beleaguered city. Now in her 60s, Bennett looks back at a lifetime of achievement and works to give back and help people along the way.
About A&A Plumbing
A&A Plumbing is ready to help customers get the most from their plumbing system. Offering comprehensive plumbing repair and installation services, they also care for existing plumbing with an outstanding service plan. Call today for plumbing service in San Antonio, TX.