Thursday, May 28, 2009

Newsmaker of the day: Woman to be honored as first generation of Connecticut tradeswomen

Norwich Bulletin
Posted May 02, 2009 @ 10:59 PM

In the news: Katherine Marceau of Norwich is one of 19 women who will be honored May 16 in an event recognizing the first generation of Connecticut tradeswomen to reach retirement age.

Katherine Marceau

Background: Marceau, 54, was born and raised in Norwich. She graduated from Norwich Free Academy, started working in a paper box factory after high school and ultimately became a carpenter at Electric Boat. She completes 32 years there in May. Over the years, she’s built stages for other workers, installed soundproofing material and put insulation in submarines.

A man’s world: Marceau was 5 feet 1 inch tall and 105 pounds when she started working at EB. There were few female carpenters there at the time. “And it was hard, because some of the men just really didn’t want you there. But as a woman you’re trying to make your way,” she said. She said she came home in tears some nights, but she also had drive. “It got my competitive nature going. I did have a few battles with men. But by the time I was done, they did prefer to work with me.” The backing of her union, Local 1302 helped, she said.

The award: The event, called “Thirty years and Still Building: Connecticut’s Groundbreaking Women Celebrate Their Lives in the Trades,” is sponsored by the Connecticut State Building Trades, the Permanent Commission on the Status of Women and the Carpenter’s Union. It will be at Zandri’s Stillwood Inn in Wallingford and will feature a documentary video interviewing the women. The Connecticut State Building Trades Council includes 17 trade unions in Connecticut. The Permanent Commission on the Status of Women is an arm of the Connecticut General Assembly.

Quotable: “I’m really honored,” Marceau said. “When I got called, I almost fainted. I just thought of myself as a woman in a shipyard. I didn’t think it would be such a big thing.”


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