Toronto, Ontario — Skills Ontario Young Women’s Conference took place today, on May 12 where highschool students learned about careers in trades and technologies from a female perspective.
Participants heard inspiring female tradespeople’s journeys into trades and technology, participated in a hands-on activity, learned about apprenticeships and the Ontario Youth Apprenticeship Program (OYAP).
The conference was delivered in both English and French.
One of the opening messages of the conference was delivered by Honourable Jill Dunlop.
“When the average person thinks of a skilled trades worker, they often think of men operating heavy machinery, or a male plumber, or typical construction sites full of men. They also think that it is just hard labour and there is no place for women in jobs like that. But that is simply not true,” said Dunlop.
She encouraged young women to pursue their passions, regardless of societal views.
“Whatever your interest is, young women like you can do anything.”
The conference featured a mentor panel, moderated by Lana Norton, executive director and founder at Women of Powerline Technicians, where women working in skilled trades and technologies shared their journeys and experiences.
Panelists included: Elizabeth Moses, Machinist at Harbour Technologies and Trade Ambassador for FIRST Robotics Canada; Shannon Jones, VP of Field Operations for WSPS; Dessy Li, Robotics Technician at Magna International, Plastcoat; Heather Bensen, Cambrian College alumni of the Electrical Technology program and Governor General’s award winner; and Jody Parrack, Department Leader at Magna International.
The panelists discussed various topics including why there are so few women in trades and technologies. They explained how lack of female exposure and inaccurate stereotypes have all played a part in why females are reluctant to work in the trades.
They encouraged women to pursue their dreams and regardless of what other people think.
“Just believe in yourself,” said Jones.
“Don’t be afraid to try,” added Parrack.
The event concluded with closing remarks from Carla Carmichael, Vice President of Nuclear Decommissioning Strategy, OPG. Where she encouraged women to pursue a career in trades and technologies to help contribute to a greener future.
“I’m very happy we had this opportunity to connect virtually to encourage, enlighten and empower each other. Now more than ever it’s important for young women to feel empowered to grasp the opportunities before them in skilled trades and fill a major need for Ontario, as we work to solve major challenges like climate change. We will rely on all of you and your skills, insights and talents to help secure our clean energy future,” said Carmichael.