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#176257 03/27/08 03:50 PM
Joined: Mar 2008
Posts: 10
saras Offline OP
New Member
Hey all, new here... I'm a 33yr old mom of two entering the electrical trade. took my pre-app, I may have my foot in the door at a great company in town. Very excited!

I just can't get this chip off my shoulder that things are different for me bc I'm a girl. What's your honest opinion. seriously, I can take it.

saras #176258 03/27/08 04:00 PM
Joined: Jul 2007
Posts: 265
I do not have any problem working beside any one, if you can carry your share of the load. I worked on a job with a very pretty young girl who could not do the job, the only way she could help me was to go to the threader with a piece of pipe and act like she was going to cut and thread it( she could not) one of the guys was always glad to do it for her. Had 3 other ladies on this job, 2 were journeymen, and some of the best I have seen before or since, so it can go either way its all up to you.


Life is tough, Life is tougher when you are stupid
Joined: Mar 2004
Posts: 947
twh Offline
It will be different for you, just as it's different for others who have different color skin, are too small, too heavy, too young, or too old. On the other hand, I have a friend who gained customers because of her gender. The Breast Cancer Clinic, for example, wouldn't hire anyone else.

You should be aware that when you took pre-app, it was their job to help you through the course. It's different on a construction site, where the primary drive is profit. The time that co-workers spend teaching apprentices must be justified by an increase in productivity. Your employer will want to keep you around if you are profitable, and your supervisor will want to get rid of you if you make him look unprofitable. No one has the job of helping you. You are the helper.

Being different from the crowd isn't a problem if you're a good worker. What would be so wrong if a customer asked that the woman be sent because she works faster?

twh #176273 03/27/08 10:06 PM
Joined: May 2003
Posts: 1,158

twh #176274 03/27/08 10:27 PM
Joined: Jul 2004
Posts: 9,917
Likes: 29
My wife was a builder until they stopped doing that. She had a pretty sharp learning curve and it took a while to get the confidence of the men around her but you can do it.
Just don't ask for any special consideration because you are a girl and try to be right when you say something. You may not have the same strength as some of the guys but there is nothing that keeps you from knowing as much ... or more. Ask the question if you are confused and try to absorb as much of the answer as you can. Go home and look up the things that are not clear to you. The bad news is there is still a whole lot for you to learn, the good news is guys like telling girls how to do things ... at least the ones who secure in their own manhood.
If you are one of the lucky people who have the innate ability to fix things (something you really can't teach) you may become a star.

Greg Fretwell
saras #176277 03/27/08 10:55 PM
Joined: May 2007
Posts: 47
Originally Posted by saras
Hey all, new here... I'm a 33yr old mom of two entering the electrical trade. took my pre-app, I may have my foot in the door at a great company in town. Very excited!

I just can't get this chip off my shoulder that things are different for me bc I'm a girl. What's your honest opinion. seriously, I can take it.

In broad strokes there are 3 basic aspects to the work.
1) Theory
2) Code
3) Practices

Theory and code are entirely objective and intellectual where gender or strength/size matter nil.

Practices, the actual 'how' of getting the job done are where the 'gotchas' are going to be for you.

You'll be shown how to do something by a 6'4" 220lb guy that works perfectly well for him but that way is NOT going to be the only or even the best way to approach a given situation. It is just the way he approaches it. Ya know? wink

Until you have the seniority to just go ahead and do something the way you want (or need) to approach it you'll have to use some "getting along with others" skills to get that Journeyperson (ha!) to see that a different approach wil get the job done just as well and safely too.

Good luck.

One caveat that I tell everyone who wants to be an electrician (not just girls) is to break in with a resi new construction crew where you'll be able to learn almost every aspect of the (basic) work with lighter materials and in a much quicker pace. Just don't stay doing it beyond the 3-6 months a sharp mechanic will require to learn those basics and THEN get in with a commercial contractor.

Design-Build isn't supposed to mean design *as* you build.
Joined: Oct 2004
Posts: 276
>>She had a pretty sharp learning curve and it took a while to get the confidence of the men around her but you can do it. <<

The Good News:
Confidence will follow Competence. Work on competence first and have a good work ethic and high workmanship standards and everything will fall into place for you. Just work on things in the right order. If you are competent and a good worker I can't see how anyone could have a problem with your gender. Comptetence is a rare commodity. I prefer someone competent who I have confidence in and don't feel I have to babysit all day to someone my age/my gender/who looks like me/talks like me/likes the same thing to eat at luch that I do/likes the same sports team I do... At work I'm looking to get the job done, not looking for new fishing buddies.

The Bad News:
The trades are a sexist place, and what's worse, for a female, is that the trades are also 99.9% male. Most of them are not particularly cultured or educated. You are going to catch a little sexism and bigotry on the job regardless of how many laws against it stand written into the law books. But buying into other people's b.s. is voluntary on your part. You might need a thick skin at times, but console yourself with the fact that inside every shop there is also an informal heirarchy like in any dog pack. There is an "A" team, of the best people, a "B" team and a "C" team etc. etc. It's an unwritten rule, but these divisions exist even in a shop of "equals". Partly its human nature to form these cliques and partly its a countermeasure to isolate one's self (provided you have the clout wherever it is you work) from a lot of the, err.. inadequate... people that get hired and are always so difficult to get rid of (it seems). Anyway, work on competence and good work. If you are invited into the informal ranks of the A team wherever you work, that should give you the clout you need to deal with that little 2% of sexism/bigotry that seems to slip through the net of the most airtight laws/workplace practices/whatever.

Last edited by trollog; 03/27/08 11:06 PM.
trollog #176279 03/27/08 11:21 PM
Joined: Jul 2007
Posts: 1,335
Originally Posted by trollog
Comptetence is a rare commodity.
HERE! HERE! Sorry. I just had to say that. smile

Last edited by sparkyinak; 03/27/08 11:23 PM.

"Live Awesome!" - Kevin Carosa
trollog #176280 03/27/08 11:41 PM
Joined: Oct 2004
Posts: 276
***Shameless continuation of my previous post because my time to edit ran out***

On the "unwritten rules" side, yes the rules will be different for you because you are a woman. People will be skeptical because you are a "girl". Use it to your advantage. If you fulfill their expectations they will be more impressed than with an equivalent man of your age/experience level doing the same thing. You'll be under more scrutiny- for a while. Use that period of hyper scrutiny to be extra "on your game" and on top of things and you will earn more respect more quickly than an equivalent male (who rightly or wrongly is expected "just to know" certain stuff..) and retain that respect and also enjoy agreater amount support from your co-workers.

On the "written rules" side, the game will be the same for you as
for anyone else regardless of gender/aptitude/talent. Of late, our laws
and cultural mentality, in an attempt to rectify some of the wrongs and injustices of past eras have been a mixed bag. In many ways the "hard bigotry of racism" has been replaced by "the soft bigotry of low expectations" in the workplace as well. The real "testing" of people in an organization has moved to the "unwritten" side of the rules, because anything overt leaves mangement open to lawsuits from disgruntled employees playing various "cards" i.e. "race card".. whatever.. Be keen to the subtleties of heirarchies and strive to do work worthy of whatever "A" team exists where you work. It won't go unnoticed, because it is just so hard to find anymore.

Bottom line: The opportunity will be what you make of it. You are in the
captain's chair. Choose wisely. Steer a good course.

Last edited by trollog; 03/27/08 11:47 PM. Reason: i can't type
trollog #176282 03/28/08 05:54 AM
Joined: Dec 2001
Posts: 2,498
My personal experience regarding the sexism issue: it also largely depends on looks and attitude. A female with 1/2" haircut who starts on the job by telling crude jokes will have a different standing as one with hip lenght blonde hair and tiny voice acting like a soap opera actor.

I had 2 years of Technical school which is, while ending with a diploma unlike an apprenticeship, socially only a small step above trade work. I experienced both kinds of girls and they both survived - to some extent. I think the more robust ones had an easier life in general.

To be honest, the intellectual niveau can be annoying to a guy as well... I'm going to quit my job this summer because I just don't want to spend all my time with people who only have 3 small talk subjects (sex, drinking and role play computer games where they kill as many enemies as possible) any more.

It's mostly a question of personal attitude I guess.

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