15 Dec Work Boots Aren’t Just for Men – Women Need A Great Pair of Safety Footwear Too
The days of women trying to fit their foot into a ‘unisex’ or men’s boot are quickly dwindling. As oil and gas facility construction and electric power services see an increased female worker presence, manufacturers and retailers like Red Wing Shoes offer an array of products with features designed with these women in mind.
As the number of women working in electric power, oil and gas construction services increases, so too does their need for a variety of reliable, comfortable safety boots.
An increasing number of women are doing the same job as the guys in oil and natural gas pipeline and utility transmission and distribution construction, often requiring the same safety toe certification of at least ASTM F2413-11 F I/75 C/75 or additional electrical hazard, metatarsal and other footwear protections. Note that the ‘F’ in the second line of this code denotes female while ‘M’ is for male.
As safety boots for men are quickly evolving in design and materials, women’s are also fast-tracking in a similar direction.
Shoe manufacturers and retailers are hearing this ‘roar’ for demand in not only safety, but style, and as more women enter an industrial line of work, boots made just for them are sprouting up from manufacturers like Red Wing, Danner, Carhartt, CAT, Timberland, Carolina, John Deere and more.
Even the transmission construction and maintenance industry is seeing more women climbers because, yes, women are linemen too.
In recent years, we’ve seen more and more women enter skilled labor positions. We know that people aren’t one-size-fits-all and that men and women typically have different ergonomic needs, so we are increasingly providing our customers with highly dependable products that are tailored and tested to fit women.”
– Jeff Goodwin, director of Red Wing Shoes North American Industrial Business
Where some women’s boots differ from men’s is mainly in the design of the boot ‘last’ which is a boot mold. Because women tend to have a higher arch and narrower heel than men, the ‘last’ used to create a woman’s boot means a better fit. According to Erin Braun, Marketing Specialist for Danner Footwear, Danner makes a boot built on a women’s last. She says it has “all the same styling and features (as the men’s), but some differences in fit to better adhere to a woman’s foot.”
That is not to say that all boots for women are built on a women’s last. Other brands, like Carolina, do make an ASTM and EH rated women’s steel toe logger boot built on a men’s last that has been sized down accordingly. The best way to know what kind of last a boot has is to ask before purchase. Women also do have the option of wearing a men’s boot but will need to reduce it by approximately 1.5 sizes, an example being a women’s size 8.5 will round out to about a men’s size 7.
Anna Carlson is a perfect real-life example of a working woman in electrical substation services.
Anna is the Warehouse Manager at TTR Substations, holds heavy equipment operator certifications and has been working in the electric substation construction and maintenance field for over ten years. She has experience and words of wisdom about the boots she wears every day and depends on for essential foot protection.
See a mini interview below with Anna highlighting some of her insightful answers to questions industry women face when choosing their safety footwear:
What do you look for in a woman’s safety boot?
Anna: Comfort and durability.
What ASTM ratings do you require?
Anna: ASTM F2413-11 with EH (electric hazard resistant properties). This is the style boot I wear inside electrical substations.
Have you ever had to wear a men’s boot? If so, pros/cons?
Anna: Yes, I have worn men’s boots in the past. Men’s boots are too wide for my feet.
What are your thoughts about current selection of women’s safety boots?
Anna: The women boot industry has come a long way. The boot selection for women is getting better every day.