Ex­pand­ing ca­reer op­tions for women

OUR EDI­TO­RIAL: WHAT WE THINK

Lethbridge Herald - - READER'S FORUM -

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 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 male­dom­i­nated 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.

Com­ment on this edi­to­rial on­line at www.leth­bridge­herald. com/opin­ions/.

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