Tuesday, February 2, 2010

The only woman in the carpentry class -CANADA

Last updated at 10:44 PM on 29/01/10

Trish MacKay of Stewiacke, N.S., is the only female in her carpentry class at Holland College in Slemon Park. The Province is trying to attract more women to trades programs with a project called Trade HERizons, which will provide training for 36 women over three years. Stephen Brun/Journal Pioneer
Trish MacKay of Stewiacke, N.S., is the only female in her carpentry class at Holland College in Slemon Park. The Province is trying to attract more women to trades programs with a project called Trade HERizons, which will provide training for 36 women over three years. Stephen Brun/Journal Pioneer
Women have a future in the trades print this article
Trade HERizons

STEPHEN BRUN
The Journal Pioneer

SUMMERSIDE - Trish MacKay isn't intimidated by being the only woman among 34 men.


But her carpentry class isn't the only program at Holland College's Slemon Park campus with the same male-female ratio. There are fewer than five women currently enroled in trades programs at the school.


Although the numbers aren't changing dramatically, MacKay said the attitude toward women in the program couldn't be better.


"Everyone treats me the same as anyone else," she said. "I knew what I was getting into and I know there's a lot of heavy lifting but I try to do my best. I haven't come to an obstacle that I haven't been able to overcome yet."


The Province recently announced a pilot program aimed at recruiting more women into traditional trades.
Trade HERizons will provide training for 36 women over three years. Participants will complete a 14-week college readiness program from February to May before entering the course of their choice in the fall.


Kent Sheen, manager of trades programs at Slemon Park, said the public may not realize how employers' outlook has changed when it comes to hiring women.


"There may be a mental picture of what trades jobs are among the general public and that may be more of an historical picture. That might contribute to women not going into some of these jobs," said Sheen. "We'd like to help clear away that perspective. These are well-paying jobs and they're much different than they used to be."


Sheen said trade jobs have changed to become more safe and ergonomic, so strain on workers is reduced.
Heather Nippard of Labrador is also the lone female in her electrical technology class. She came to the school to join the varsity golf team, but found herself enjoying her program.


"I didn't see myself doing this as a career at all, but now I'm really glad I picked it," she said. "(Employers) seem more willing now to overlook the fact that you're a woman in the trade."


But if employers are only hesitant to hire women because of their gender, they'll need to adapt to the times or be out of luck for future employees.


"Every now and then one of our students goes out and applies for a job and isn't considered as readily equal as a man," said Sheen. "In those cases, if they didn't find employment there, that's probably a good thing."

sbrun@journalpioneer.com

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