Choosing a Career in the Trades
J?urneyman is a program that encourages and supports female involvement in the trades. To be a journeyman in the trade industry is something individuals strive for, signifying that they are completely qualified in their chosen field. As members of the “JOurneyman” program, women give new meaning to the title and wear their accomplishments proudly.
“I knew I would never want a career in an office,” she explained. “I’m very outdoorsy and hands-on.”
When she heard of a company looking for masonry workers, she applied and two and a half years later is now a Bricklayer Second Year Apprentice.
Being a single mom, Lipinski was looking for a Monday-Friday job with health benefits and absolutely fell in love with her work here. Through her union, International Union of Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers (BAC), she finds the support she needs. She went in with no expectations but immediately was accepted into their community as an equal.
“I love the guys that I work with,” Lipinski said. “I was nervous in the beginning but they’ve been there for me. Everyone’s really great.”
In fact, it was her union colleagues who introduced Lipinski to J?urneyman.
Like other member of JOurneyman, Lipinski visits schools and informs the youth on how they can get involved as well as educating them on the various options out there. “Girls shouldn’t be afraid,” she said. “There is so much room for women to succeed, it’s worth it to just give it a shot.”
Jennifer Pigozzo began her career in 2002. Working retail at the time, she saw an ad in the newspaper for an Industrial Electrical program at Conestoga College and so she applied. After graduating, Pigozzo joined the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) and began her apprenticeship. She is now a licensed Construction and Maintenance Electrician.
Pigozzo is heavily involved with her union. Representing it at a conference about a year ago she met one of the cofounders of JOurneyman which inspired her to get involved. Now she takes pride in going around to different school and speaking with students about her job and being a woman in her field.
“I bring my tools, it’s fun,” Pigozzo explained. “I want to show them that we are equal. Women in the trades are perceived different but I want to be equal, I don’t want any special treatment.”
She is asked a lot what it is like to work in a male-dominated environment to which she has only positive things to say.
“The male perspective is always different from the female but I have no horrible experiences,” she said. “They’re a lot like your brothers. They have my back, I’ve had great experiences.”
For girls who are considering a career in the trades, Pigozzo is excited to share her advice. With so many different paths to choose from, she understands the importance of finding something that you really love and are passionate about.
“You should really look into it and the different types of trades,” Pigozzo offered. “Some aren’t as intensive as others. Really go for what you want to do, don’t be afraid. It’s a good, safe work environment with lots of opportunity to advance and so many different options. You really can go anywhere.”
Photos: Horst Herget