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Expanding women’s career options

Posted on October 17, 2017 by Lethbridge Sun Times

There was a time when the general view was that if a woman chose to do work beyond the kitchen, it should involve teaching or nursing or something of the sort. Construction sites and automotive shops were not a place for the “weaker sex.”
It’s a different world today, and last Wednesday, designated as International Day of the Girl, Skills/Compétences Canada (SCC) unveiled the roster for WorldSkills Team Canada 2017, a lineup which includes nine women — some them in areas that were once thought of as a male-only domain.
Team Canada’s female competitors include Deanna Reynolds of Calgary, an industrial mechanics millwright; Ashley Weber of Winnipeg in the category of car painting; and Vyolaine Dujmovic of Montreal in autobody repair.
SCC works to increase the number of girls and young women who consider skilled trade and technology careers. At present, many of these sectors remain heavily dominated by men. But that is changing, and young women such as the WorldSkills Team Canada members are helping to lead the change.
On Wednesday, the SCC released a short video featuring a panel discussion between Patty Hajdu, Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour, and three accomplished young women who are working in a trade or technology field.
“When we have positions that are unusual for women, it’s our responsibility to show other women that there is a place for them and that they in fact can knock it out of the park. . .,” Hajdu said in a news release.
One of the panel participants is Jennifer Green, a gold-medal winner at the Skills Ontario Provincial Competition in 2008 and a silver medal winner at the 2008 Skills Canada National Competition in the industrial mechanical millwright category. She now works as a maintenance planner for an Ontario school board.
“I was at first reluctant to compete when my college asked me to represent them — afraid I’d come in last and contribute to the stereotype of women not being able to do this type of work well,” Green said in the news release. “But I eventually agreed to compete and ended up placing at the Skills Canada National Competition. Excelling in my trade ended up empowering me and changing my life.”
Here in southern Alberta, there are a number of women who perform what not so long ago would have been considered “men’s jobs,” working as firefighters, trades people, equipment operators — you name it. These women serve as excellent role models for girls who perhaps dream of careers in fields that haven’t traditionally featured many women. As more women demonstrate their ability to excel in previously male-dominated areas, it will become easier for other females to follow. The trails have been and are being blazed and it means that the career possibilities for today’s generation of girls is expanding rapidly.
That’s good news for females with a desire to enter trades and technology careers. Those areas are no longer just for men.

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