A girl can do any job a boy can do.
During a virtual workshop held Aug. 21, a panel of mentors from Skills Ontario told young girls from Ontario Girl Guides of Canada that careers in the skilled trades and technologies are for everybody.
“In any job it doesn’t matter whether you are male or female if you believe in yourself you can accomplish anything you put your mind to,” said Daniela Torelli, welder and welding instructor.
The women encouraged the young girls to follow their passion and not to let anybody tell them they can’t.
“A person can do anything they want to do as long as they put their mind to it,” said Alex Kis, diesel technician, Women’s Trucking Federation of Canada. “Don’t let anyone stop you from doing what you want to do even if they think it’s ridiculous. I was told to leave the trade, not to come into the trade, ‘you’re going to hurt your body.’ Yes, it’s a very demanding job but if you do it right, you’ll last, you’ll overcome and you will do amazing.”
Joanna Osawe, president and CEO of Women in Renewable Energy (WiRE), recalled being told she shouldn’t be in the industry.
“I have also been told that I should not be in the construction part of the world and here I am and I got to build the biggest wind farm in the world,” said Osawe. “Back then, this was a long time ago in 2008, I was the only female on the construction site. Did that scare me? Nope. That encouraged me and it inspired and empowered me to start Women in Renewables.”
Working with your hands and building something you can see is a rewarding part of the job, said Torelli.
“The best thing I like about my job is building things with my own two hands…to hold something and say ‘I built this’ and to see what you built getting used in the world,” she said. “A lot of welders they help build structures and buildings and then you can walk into that building and say ‘I helped build this building’ which is really cool.”
Osawe said she likes engaging with people and being both on-site and in the boardroom.
“I got to go on construction sites, I got to maneuver a big crane, I got to be part of engaging with people and speaking with stakeholders, anyone that is interested in understanding the project or is invested or wants to be educated,” Osawe said.
Being able to fix things allows you to be self-sufficient, Kis said.
“I like taking things apart, learning how things work, how they operate and then when it’s broken learning how to fix it so that it operates properly,” she noted. “It feels so liberating especially as a woman that you’re not relying on anyone else to do it for you.”
“I actually had a nail in my tire last night on my way home. I was able to go buy a repair kit, take the tire off, patch the hole, air it up and the tire was fixed,” she added. “I didn’t have to rely on anyone else to do it. I didn’t have to call anyone. I did it myself.”
All panelists agreed what they like about working in the trades is that every day is different and they are constantly learning.
“I feel like I’m always in school because every day is educational and every day I get to learn things,” said Osawe. “I get to learn and I get to educate myself and then I get to share the messages I learn.”
“Every year you are learning so much more, especially with the industry growing with new technologies,” added Kis. “Every day is something new and there are challenges. You feel like you’ve accomplished something when you overcome those challenges.”
Follow the author on Twitter @DCN_Angela.