“It was great meeting women of all ages from the United States and other countries,” stated Jenna Walsh, one of three San Diego Job Corps students who attended the 2nd Annual Women’s Building California and the Nation Conference in Sacramento, Calif., May 19-20, 2012. “There was a wide-range of meetings and workshops to choose from and the ones I attended were interesting and informative. I’m a Carpentry trade student,” she continued, “but I was surprised and impressed with all the construction trades women are working in. I didn’t expect some women to be in some of the construction trades because of their physical appearance, but they are successful in their work.”
The Women’s Building California and the Nation Conference was sponsored by the State Building and Construction Trades Council of California and Building and Construction Trades Department, AFL-CIO. The conference is designed to bring more women into the trades and offer tradeswomen (both new and experienced) opportunities for networking, skill building, leadership development and organizing. Hundreds of tradeswomen share strategies and build the support and resources to thrive and advance in skilled building trades careers.
San Diego Job Corps Plastering student Maritza Escobedo enjoyed the conference and was excited to have found a mentor. “I met a lady who graduated from Job Corps and has been successful in the plastering trade,” Maritza stated. “She is an instructor at the Clearfield Job Corps Center in Utah and also pursues a career in plastering. She encouraged me to learn everything I could, each step of the way, and also made me realize that a woman can do anything a man can do in this field.”
Plumbing student Penny Scott learned that the construction industry is making an effort to have more women involved in the trades that have been mostly male dominated in the past. “There is also a need for younger people in these trades as people retire, which means there are more opportunities for both women and men,” she stated. “At the conference I learned more about how to work with men in the plumbing field, how to deal with possible harassment on the job, and how to stand up for myself.”
Jenna, Maritza, and Penny expressed their appreciation for the opportunity to attend the conference, which they described as a valuable experience. All three praised their instructors and Job Corps for the excellent training they were receiving, and felt confident about achieving successful careers in the construction industry when they graduate.
Editor’s Note: The author, Frank Buttino is the Business Community Liaison at the San Diego Job Corps Center.