Women in Work Boots

by Roberta - 0 Comment(s)

There’s a new gal in town with a Backer Board and a mission.

She knows that if you were to ask a group of high school girls what they know about the variety of work in the trades, it’s pretty likely their knowledge on the subject would be slim. The industry continues to battle an image problem, especially with women who last year represented only 4% of those working in the construction trades. Yet for those women with successful careers in the industry, they are quick to point out many advantages: their ability to advance in the profession, continual learning, and gratifying, tangible, and independent work.

The Canadian government is working to create greater economic opportunities for women in many sectors, including non-traditional occupations, especially given current and looming shortages. They admit however, that there is a serious lack of knowledge about hands-on professions, which contributes to the problem. Post secondary institutions are working hard to improve and change the situation, along with business, government, and industry groups. But more inspiration is needed.

Here’s where Calgary’s Jill Drader comes in. An educator at SAIT, Tile Setter, and consultant associated with the skilled trades since 2007, Jill recently created the Women In Work Boots site. By sharing stories of local women working in a wide variety of trades, her mission is to inspire more to make career changes, own and run a related business, or explore the industry as a viable option after high school. And stories are important. Subtle changes in the way women talk about their roles in construction and how they got started in the industry will go a long way in bringing more women to it, according to Debbie Wadsworth, female construction leader and former president of the Canadian Association of Women in Construction in a recent interview. "Sometimes the things that count are really subtle, like what you do, how you got there, or talking about how much money you make.”

Featuring links to education, industry resources and apprenticeship guidance, Jill’s site is an excellent supplement to provincial initiatives such as Tradesecrets. But I was curious about mentorship opportunities, and asked Jill for her opinion and to share where this whole journey is taking her:

Jill, let's talk about mentorship opportunities. Do they exist in Calgary, and how important are they?

Mentorship is a critical part of passing on relevant information to women thinking of entering the industry. I've found career fairs sometimes have female mentors working the booths for various companies as recruiters, or as union members. I've also seen third part organizations create interactive career fairs and use round table discussions featuring mentors to deliver and share information.Unfortunately, there are so few women in the skilled trades that to take a percentage of those and make them visible mentors would prove challenging. This speaks to why I started the website: one, to use stories as a means of mentoring, and second to use the advice offered in the stories as a means of coaching women by using a web platform of storytelling.

What kind of feedback have you had to the site?

It’s been incredible. I've had emails from across Canada and USA, and even the UK and Australia, from women who found and follow the site. I've had the provincial government and oil and gas companies ask me to do events, public speaking, and conventions speaking about the the project. I've had representatives of the government call me to thank me for Women in Work Boots, and my MLA office is helping me. I have men emailing me and asking for advice. And most important, the women whose stories I featured and shared have told me they cried because they were so proud to read their journey and the way I told it. It brought to light that their work is meaningful, important, and a source of pride, which was my goal.


What is next on the horizon for you?

Taking this information to national and international audiences. Currently, I'm in Toronto waiting for a meeting with a national TV network that found me and invited me for an audition/interview of a show they want to pitch to me. This proves my previous point, that this movement was created to spread organically and wholeheartedly through storytelling and word of mouth.

This fall, I will be launching a digital magazine version of the website. I'm also writing a few chapters for a U.S. Women's Study program that asked me to contribute to their course, Women Work and the Web. And it turns out that I found a missing link to women in the trades: business education, and how it will enable men and women to run a great enterprise. With an industry in such high demand, I find that those hard at work often don't have any extra time to study, explore and learn more. To address this, I've created an online course to launch this September where they can purchase, download, and learn business trade fundamentals at their own pace, with access to me and my team for questions and follow up.

Oh, and raising my 1 and 3 year old sons is the first priority!

Career And Employment Agencies in our City Centre

by Roberta - 0 Comment(s)

During our Central Library flood closure, we have been fielding many emails and calls from regular customers eager to update their resumes and push their job search forward. While Central will be closed for another few weeks, help abounds in the downtown core. Although many of Calgary’s career and employment centres were affected by the floods, all have been working incredibly hard to maintain or restore services to job hunters.

Here is the latest update as of July 10th:

  • Bow Valley College's Career Connection (150 – 615 Macleod Trail South) has now reopened, but without fax service
  • Due to the recent floods, the City of Calgary Youth Employment Centre has set up a temporary location to assist Calgary’s youth ages 15 – 24 with their career and employment needs. Beginning on Wednesday, July 10th YEC will be open, and youth can drop in anytime Monday to Friday between 8:00 and 4:30 p.m. at the University of Calgary Downtown Campus, 4th Floor Room 416, 906 8th Avenue SW. Call (403) 268-2490 for updates
  • Directions for Immigrants was affected by the flood and is therefore delivering temporary services out of Ford Tower (7th floor, 633 - 6th Avenue SW) and sharing space with the Francophone Connexion Carriere program. Call 403-355-1779 for updates
  • The YWCA’s new Employment Resource Centre (320 5th Avenue SE) is now operational, helping women find and maintain meaningful employment
  • The Alberta Works Centre (Century Park Place 5th Floor, 855-8 Avenue SW) is fully operational
  • Calgary Immigrant Women’s Association (#200, 138 - 4th Avenue SE) is fully operational
  • Calgary Catholic Immigration Society (5th Floor, 1111 - 11 Avenue SW) is fully operational

 

We are eager to see our job searchers and networkers back at the Central Library as soon as possible, so keep your eyes on our website for updates on our ongoing career programs, weekly career tours, Career Coaching, and Strategic Networking.

True Grit

by Roberta - 0 Comment(s)

For those of us based out of the Central Library, the last few weeks have been interesting. Suddenly displaced, trying to conduct our business as close to normal as possible, and dealing with the highs and lows experienced by our friends and neighbors, this crisis has really made me think: What allows some to adapt and cope better than others and what keeps us from feeling helpless, hopeless and powerless and instead be able to push forward and thrive?

“In the worst of times, there is always that person who, through amazing grit, shines, who makes ‘it’ happen in spite of all adversity….and that means using your grit to finish strong, even when the winds are blowing you back.”

The above quotation comes from Put Your Mindset to Work, a great career book that provides fascinating insights into the mindset it takes to win and thrive in a job. It provides sound strategies that can be applied to a host of challenging situations. And it’s much more than a positive attitude. Authors Reed and Stoltz start with the studied premise that “96% of employers picked mindset over skill set as the key element in those they seek and retain. Mindset utterly trumps skill set. Not by a little but by a landslide.”

The authors list the 3G Mindset for Success: Global (vantage point), Good (bedrock) and Grit. They expand on each of these three areas by focusing both on what employers are looking for and also how these mindsets can help employees retain and excel in a great job.

It was the Grit section that called me back over the last few weeks of turmoil. I agree that it’s our grit that can fuel us with what we need to forge ahead and make it through challenging times. According the authors, grit is comprised of our growth, intensity, tenacity and resiliency and their book provides tools, quizzes, worksheets and advice on how to explore, reflect on and improve these traits. Without a doubt, it’s that resiliency that’s proved so valuable to many of us in these past weeks, and will continue to be relevant in many facets of our lives.

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