TPU launches first women’s resource group

Nearly half of the women who work for Tacoma Public Utilities gathered yesterday to participate in a new resource group designed to support women in the workplace. Just over a quarter of Tacoma Public Utilities’ employees are female.

The group, called Women’s LINC (lead, inspire, connect), aims to help women who work for the utility build their skills, find opportunities for career growth and network with other professionals. Ideally, the group will also help attract more women to the organization and the industry.

“A small group of women started meeting informally, and we felt this type of experience might be good for all women who work for TPU,” said Jennifer Laughlin, a Tacoma Water employee and co-architect of the group.

Tacoma Public Utilities’ workforce is about 27 percent female, reflecting the traditionally male-dominated roles needed in the organization, such as line electrician, construction worker, engineer and other STEM-related fields.

“Our industry has struggled with finding ways to increase the number of females who choose utility-related careers,” said Tacoma Public Utilities Director Bill Gaines. “When I was approached by these employees with their idea, it was immediately clear that we needed to nurture and support their efforts.”

Women’s LINC held its first meeting yesterday. Pierce County Auditor Julie Anderson, Emergency Food Network Executive Director Helen McGovern-Pilant and Tacoma Power Section Manager Dolores Stegeman discussed how their careers have developed and what it’s like to serve as a female leader in this community.

“These local leaders had great stories to share. They serve as an inspiration to women,” Laughlin said. “We’re looking forward to more events like this and trying to provide resources for women in the utility industry.”


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