Women in the Construction: Choosing the Right Work Boots

Women have, historically, had a tough time finding just the right pair of work boots. For years, they’ve had to compromise comfort and style for safety, trying to fit into boots designed for men. And with statistics from the National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC) putting women as only 1.3 percent of the entire US construction workforce, it’s little wonder that the big manufacturers of work boots traditionally chose to ignore such a small market.

But things are changing. Women are becoming more interested in the construction industry for a variety of reasons including better pay equity, increased employment opportunities, and a desire for more flexible work schedules. Couple that with the success of startup companies like Safety Girl and Moxie Trades, who found success designing safety boots for women, and you’ve got a market that is growing, offering more choice for women in the construction industry. Now, stalwart boot manufacturers like Ariat, Caterpillar and Wolverine are manufacturing work boots with fits and fashions especially for women.

Features of top work boots

What should women look for when choosing the right boot for your workplace? First of all, a work boot is one piece of footwear that should not compromise on comfort. These will be worn all day, with no escape for pinched toes or tired ankles. Make sure your boots are roomy and supportive with no uncomfortable pressure points or hot spots that might lead to pain by the end of the work day.

You’ll also want to be sure that the boots you choose have all the safety features you’re going to need on the job. Protective toe caps are a must on a construction site. Composite toe caps are lighter than steel, but steel can take more punishment. You’ll also want to be sure that the soles’ treads offer secure footing on slippery surfaces, as well as protection from punctures, oils and chemicals. If your work site has any open electrical circuits, electrical hazard (EH) boots are essential. You may also need electrostatic discharge (ESD) rated boots if you work with delicate electronics that could be damaged by a static shock, or if you work in an environment where there’s combustible material on site.

Insulation is another important factor when choosing a work boot. Whether working in extreme heat or extreme cold, make sure your boots will protect you from the conditions you’ll encounter. This may mean having two or three pairs of work boots if you work outside or in variable environments.

While style is the last thing you should consider when choosing work boots for a construction site, the variety of styles out there makes it easier than ever to find something that combines all the safety features you need in a good-looking package. From the classic lace-up construction boot to Western-style pull-on boots and everything in between, there are near endless options. With enough time and patience, you’ll find your perfect pair.

Thanks to Erin Stone

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