Women in non-traditional roles

February 13, 2020   ·   0 Comments

By Sandy Brown

As a young boy, I had no idea of the challenges women faced in society, at work or even within their own family. In 1964 – men dominated family decision making and the workplace. In this pre-feminism time, the domestic situation at my home was not the best – my mother decided to pick up two young children and leave her husband, my father. She was able to do so because she had a learned skill or profession – she was a Registered Nurse. She could live independently and support her and her children. Nurses were respected and earned a reasonable wage, enough to rent a flat and get her kids out of an untenable situation. Many women of the day were trapped; feminism has helped change that.

I grew up with a strong female role model, a mother who taught me right from wrong, to dust off my cuts and bruises, and embrace a family/community-first attitude. My mother worked shifts as a nurse – my sister, and I were latch key kids. It helped us develop some sense of independence – and I learned to respect my mother and the work ethic and personal sacrifice she undertook to raise her children. 

Why am I opening up about my personal journey? To show how important it is to learn a skill or trade or have the ability to provide a valuable service to society as a professional. 

More than 50% of our workforce is made up of women, and we need to challenge the norms, encourage women of all ages to explore job opportunities that fit their personalities and interests, which can mean exploring non-traditional career paths.

Identifying Resources for Women Entrepreneurs: Entrepreneurship amongst women is growing. In Canada, businesses owned or led by women account for just 16% of the total. As previously stated, women make up over 50% of the workforce. 

Around the world, all levels of government, schools and business groups have stepped up to provide resources specifically aimed at women – which can include a holistic approach to work-life balance, business planning, mentorship, and how to secure financing to create economic empowerment and business success. All over the globe – successful women are finding the time to answer these questions and provide practical information on how to handle balancing responsibilities.

It’s Not Just in Business Ownership that Women are Challenging the Norms : Women are not letting gender-based views of careers stop them from pursuing their passions – particularly those in skilled trades and non-traditional careers. Many are exploring careers in construction, manufacturing, automotive, green technology, computer sciences and emergency services such as firefighting and policing.

Higher Education and Less Debt: Working in the trades is often physically demanding work and women are held to the same standards as men. An increasing number of colleges and trades schools offer assistance to women to get started with a mix of classroom, hands-on learning and on the job experience. Typically, this apprenticeship path lets you earn and learn and gets you into the workforce earlier with the experience employers are seeking.

While money should not be the motivating factor for choosing a career, it definitely should be considered. The demand is high for many skilled trade workers. Skilled trade workers can earn in excess of $100,000.

Creating a Lifetime of Stable Work: There will always be a need for skilled workers. It’s that simple. Housing, business parks and roads continue to be built, and we continue to rely on these services to make our lives run smoothly. It’s difficult to outsource an electrician, ironworker, carpenter, plumber, HVAC Technician or any of the many skilled services we rely on for our daily lives.

Having this long-term job security comes in handy in today’s economy. 

Taking Action: Skilled trades are often overlooked as a career path. Recent studies indicate that just 26% of young people aged 13 to 24 plan to consider a career in the skilled trades, with 59% of youths saying their parents have not encouraged them to consider the trades as a career option.

Providing students, the opportunity to meet, ask questions and participate in hands-on activities can deliver the answers needed if you are considering a career in the trades. 

Dream Dufferin: In Dufferin County, the Dufferin Board of Trade (with support from the Town of Orangeville) is hosting Dream Dufferin – an exhibition where career seekers can participate in hands-on demonstrations, meet local tradespeople and learn more about careers in skilled trades, engineering, technology, emergency services and entrepreneurship on May 7 from 3-7 p.m. at the Tony Rose Arena. 

Dream Dufferin will also feature guest speaker Jamie McMillian from KickAss Careers. Jamie, an ironworker and motivational speaker, will shatter any stereotypes you may have about women in skilled trades. 

This International Women’s Day, let’s do more than just celebrate. Let’s challenge the norms, encourage women of all ages to explore exciting non-traditional careers.


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