There are various reasons to why I got into this field perceived to be more of a man’s job. Entrepreneurship was my dream career since childhood and I went through school determined to realize my dream. My marriage has not interfered with my career. In fact, my family has been very supportive. When I decided to join this field, I wanted to prove that women to can defy the odds and succeed in this male-dominated area. In addition, this career is perceived to be well rewarding.
2.) Describe anything in your background that led you to seek a job in trade.
My background was a major influencing factor. My parents always encouraged me to study hard in school. They also offered me financial support without raising an eye brow. I was interested in attending career workshops for women that were instrumental in shaping my career path since I learnt skills that helped me to start and run a business of my own successfully.
3.) How did you hear about the apprenticeship program or nontraditional jobs for women? (For example, women’s advocacy group, subway ads, media from friends, family, presentations at community meetings)
I heard about the apprentice program from career workshop in my hometown. The workshop meeting was preceded by prominent heroines who had fought many odds in life to becoming who they were in their careers. Women were informed of how they are supposed to stand for their rights and pursue job careers which are perceived to be done by men since they can do better.
4.) Did you encounter any barriers when trying to get into the trades? Describe.
Yes I encountered a lot of problems especially at school and in other places as well. For instance, I lost many friends in school when they realized my determination of becoming an entrepreneur rather than getting employed into other peoples’ jobs. Some people also tried to convince me to choose other careers which are perceived to be better for ladies but I always challenged their ideas. In the university we were very few ladies in my class and this was somehow frustrating to me.
5.) Did you know anyone in the trades that helped you decide to go into that trade?
One of my neighbors was an entrepreneur. We were friends and used to encourage me by saying that entrepreneurship is the most interesting career field one can be. I realized this was true after I got a job. This is a career where one has to work at will without pressure from bosses. It has been a fruitful career to my life. I choose to spend gains of my business how I like and this makes me enjoy my work all the time.
6.) Is construction work “men’s work?” Why / why not?
No. Construction work is for all people regardless of gender. In complex construction work there must have services like consultancy, architectural, surveying services in which women can perform well in. People should stop taking construction work as it is perceived to mean. Construction does not only imply building but all activities carried out to get work done. Women should know that they have a right to engage themselves into construction work.
7.) How are you perceived as women in a non-traditional job? Is there an image of “women in the trades?” Please Describe.
There is woman imagery in the work place. For instance, clients may come and specify that they want services of a woman claiming that women do excellent work. Women in these jobs are perceived to be heroines in the society. This perception makes many clients to like jobs done by women more than those done by men. Contrary, some criticize women’s work claiming that women do works in a hurry.
8.) Have there been any men (or women) who particularly helped you during your training or on the job- without them you would have left or perhaps wouldn’t be where you are today? Please describe.
Yes, there are people who have supported and encouraged me in my job as well as during my career training. My parents supported me during the course training through finance means and encouragement as well. At my work place, working colleagues have been of much help because much of the successes have resulted from team work. These people have been of much help to my career and without them I could not have made it to what I am.
9.) What has been the most difficult part of your apprenticeship/job that you didn’t expect?
The most difficult time in my career life is when my business was in need of capital from outside sources after making huge losses. We suffered a financial loss when the business had to settle a due debt. It was a desperate time in my career and made me feel like I could quit the business. Luckily the business had some assets which we sold and enabled us to settle the debt. Afterwards we managed to raise capital through borrowing from friends.
10.) What has been the best part of your apprenticeship/job that you didn’t expect?
The best part of my career is when business succeeded after going through difficult challenges. For instance, the financial year which followed the financial hitch the business managed to make a huge profit which enabled us to settle all the debts we had.
11.) Do you perceive that women of color experience treatment that is different from other women trade? Please explain.
As a woman of color job personally I have experienced the perception as a superior woman that others in other trade fields. Personally I do not tolerate that though it always happens. For instance, in social meetings people call someone by jobs title which attracts the attention of other attendants. Many people refer using job titles as a show of respected though to the person being called it may appear to be humiliating.
12.) Do you notice that different types/kinds of work is given or allocated to tradeswomen of different race-ethnicities?
Racism is seen to take its course in jobs allocation. In color jobs white women always have better chances than women of other different races. There is an ideology that makes a white woman to be perceived as more perfect in her working than woman of another race and this one makes people to give more credit to the white ladies. This is a culture which has deep roots and we need to work harder in order to get rid of it.
13.) What advice can you give to other women thinking about entering the trades?
I would advise women thinking about entering into trades to have a feeling that they are about to make an important step and challenging as well. Women need to stand for their rights. We need gender equality in the trades and we must kill the ideology that makes people believe there are jobs that a woman cannot do. Women can do anything that is done by men as well.
14.) Often, people say women don’t go into trades because it is too hard physically. Describe how you’ve adapted to the physical aspects of the job.
Many women are said not to like physical jobs. This is a belief which discourages women from taking jobs that are physically tiring. I adapted to the challenges of my job by accepting it, hard work and determination. I also had to train myself on how to manage my time perfectively. This did not come all along smoothly. One has to be patient and prepared for upcoming challenges along the way.
15.) Why do you think there aren’t more women in the trades? What needs to change to get more women into the trades?
The reason to why there are a few women is because of the culture and beliefs of the society. Many women in the society are said to believe that certain jobs are only for men because they are physical and demanding. To change this perception women have to be educated and informed that they can do well in these jobs as well as men. Those who are thinking of getting into these trades need to be encouraged and trained so that they acquire the needed skills.
16.) Do you consider your trade to be good career choice for women- why/why not?
Yes I consider my trade as a good career for women. Women have equal intellectual capabilities with men and they can perform well in this field.
17.) Do you see yourself continuing in the trades as your career? Why or why not? If you had other options for work would it include another trade job or an entirely different career? Did you ever feel like quitting? Will you continue to work in the trades as a career?
Yes I shall have to continue with my trade as my career since I chose it as a life career. It is a rewarding career to my life and has helped me improve lives of others as well. I have never felt like quitting my career even when things are hard for me. I shall work hard to advance my career as much as I would to ensure its growth
Questions and Answers for Men.
1.) How and why did you enter into the trades (pressure from your family, through a family contact, your choice, your interest, etc.)?
I chose trade career by myself. I developed an interest in trades’ career during my childhood. My dad was an entrepreneur and I always admired his working environment.
2.) What do you think women bring to the trades?
Women bring gender equality and stiff competition into the field. This is healthy since it creates a good reputation of the trades’ career to the public and makes each individual to work harder so as to run through the stiff completion.
3.) Did you go through a specific training program (for example, second chance, vocational school, etc.)?
Yes I attended a special training school where I acquired special skills for trading. Nowadays it is not possible for a trader to perform well in this field where we have stiff competition.
4.) Do you feel comfortable working with women in the trades? WHY / Why not?
Yes I am comfortable with the presence of women in the trade. Women are capable of carrying out trade careers. What one needs is proper time management and determination to survive in the trade. Women are hardworking and perceived to doing their work carefully sometimes even more than men.
5.) Is construction work “men’s work?” Why / why not?
Construction work can be carried out by everyone irrespective of the gender. Women are said to have the same capability as men. The only problem is that men do not let women enjoy these careers since they claim that these jobs take much of their family life time. People need to discard beliefs and ideologies that discourage women from taking construction but rather encourage women to do so.
6.) What has been the best part of your apprenticeship/job that you didn’t expect?
The best part of my job is when I received the annual award for the trades’ man of the year. This came as a surprise since I had perceived that stiff completion I was experiencing would bar my trade from winning.
7.) Why do you think there aren’t more women in the trades? What needs to change to get more women into the trades?
The reason to why we have a few women in the field is the ideologies that women cannot perform well in trade careers which many people take as men’s’ jobs. To contain the situation I think we have to encourage women to pursue these careers.
8.) Do you notice that different types/kinds of work is given or allocated to tradeswomen of different race-ethnicities?
Racism also plays a part in jobs allocation to women in the trade career industry. White ladies are believed to perform better in trade management but this is not true because any woman can do it perfectly irrespective of her race.
9.) Did you know anyone in the trades that helped you decide to go into that trade?
Yes my dad was in the trade before me. My dad encouraged me to take initiative of making trade as my career. He introduced me into the career by offering me financial support and encouragement
10.) As a gender bias begins to break down how would you describe the feelings toward women workers especially during low employment times, like now?
Low employment rate should not put women away from jobs. The few available job vacancies should be shared fairly among the gender.
11.) Has the credibility of the business changed with women entering the trades?
The entrance of women in the field expanded the size of the market. I think many customers and clients believe in products done by women.
12.) Describe anything in your background that led you to seek a job in the trades (for example, did you always have an interest in fixing things, working outdoors, etc.)
I always had the interest of helping my dad in his work during my childhood. This helped me in building the interest and adapting the trade environment.
13.) What advice can you give to other women thinking about entering the trades?
Women should take challenge and have confidence in themselves. They also need not to be discouraged by ideologies that certain jobs are for men instead they should take these ideologies as traditional and now time has come for a woman who can do whatever a man can do. Women need to know we are in era of hard working people where everybody has to work hard to earn a living and improve the growth of our economy. Everybody should encourage women to do whatever they like.