FEMALE APPRENTICES THRIVE IN NON-TRADITIONAL ROLES
Apprenticeship is a strong and productive part
of the work force in Virginia. There are presently 11,443 apprentices
on their way to receiving their journeymen's cards. Of that number,
1,449 are female apprentices competing in a myriad of predominately
male dominated trades. It is a celebration to learn about the remarkable
female apprentices in non-traditional roles.
Female apprentices have "followed their
dream" by pursuing careers in generally male-dominated trades.
Angela Williams, a plumbing apprentice, works for D. F. Williams Plumbing,
Inc. Leaurdra Raye of Electric Masters is an electrician apprentice.
Bambi Terrell of Accurate Consulting Services LLC and Tina Karas of
the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) are each apprenticing
as surveyors. Together, they present themselves as positive, goal-oriented
and hard working individuals eager to succeed in their chosen trades.
They are committed to four- to five-year programs of education and on-the-job
training that will ultimately earn them their journeymen's cards.
So how did they get to where they are? Angela's
and Bambi's fathers owned their respective plumbing and surveying businesses.
"Going out on jobs with Dad" and "liking to build with
my hands" motivated Angela. Bambi said she "liked being out
in the woods" and "my father encouraged me." Like father
like daughter. Leaurdra started her interest in the electric trade by
attending a vocational/technical high school. She knew as a teenager
that was the field for her. Tina began her path as a flagger for a temporary
service. After holding various positions, the opportunity to start surveying
arose, and there she found her future goal.
"I enjoy learning the technical parts at
school," says Angela, especially since one of her instructors was
a female Master Plumber. As an apprentice, Leaurdra enjoys "the
attention in the field that my work is well done." "Hands-on
training, running the instruments and being outdoors in different places,"
appeals to Tina. She also likes using the machete to cut the brush in
order to set up her instruments. Bambi is pleased to be the only female.
To her, learning in class and on-the-job is a great method that allows
you to "benefit more." These are reasons the apprentices find
their programs so enjoyable and beneficial each step of the way.
Surprisingly, none of these apprentices found
any real obstacles to hold them back simply because they were women
in a traditionally man's field. Bambi says, "People are used to
women in the work force." Angela advises, "Don't be afraid
to ask for help." Because she can't lift certain weights she doesn't
feel inadequate - "just need a little help, simple as that."
"If you're given the chance to show your skills, all will go well,"
Leaurdra says. Also, her high school background makes her more comfortable
with her skills. Tina's experience has been positive in apprenticeship.
"The men are cooperative and treat me as an equal part of the team."
It's good to know that women have these choices in trades - welcome
to the 2000's!
So where will these apprentices be in the future?
Tina hopes to be a supervisor by doing her best and putting in her time.
Bambi sees herself as a surveyor and perhaps receiving her Engineer
License. Using her skills for volunteer projects to build houses of
worship is also one of her goals. Leaurdra sets her sights on a Master's
License and one day her own business. These are positive futures for
bright, skillful women and a reminder that registered apprenticeship
is a strong and productive part of the work force. Women are out there
building solid and durable futures for themselves and their families.
Leaurdra's advice for women is, "Start early
in high school - explore the fields" and "believe in the dream."
Bambi says to be successful "You must be dedicated and make sure
you want to pursue it." "Keep your head up - you can do what
any man can do," states Angela. And Tina's thoughts for success
are, "Do the best you can, have pride in your work and plan a five-year
goal." These four positive women are a testament that success is
out there waiting for each woman.
With examples like Angela, future Plumber, Leaurdra,
future Electrician, and Bambi and Tina, future Surveyors, Virginia can
be proud of its registered Apprenticeship Program and the effort and
dedication these women inspire.
Visit our Web site for additional information
about Virginia's registered Apprenticeship
Barr, Apprenticeship Field Representative, Northern Virginia Region
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