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Talking Trades: What it's like being a 20 y/o woman working in a male-dominated field

This soon-to-be electrician says more info about the trades needs to be made available to women in high school
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Alysha
Alysha Buchy. (via Contributed)

Alysha Buchy is a 20-year-old woman doing her second year of electrical apprenticeship in the Kootenays. She works in the coal mines.

I asked her what challenges she deals with specific to her gender.

Here's what she had to say:

Physically, women aren't the same as men, so lifting heavy items, such as parts on haul trucks, is challenging because I don't always want to have to ask for help. The haul trucks at the last mine I was at could haul 320 tonnes, so the equipment was large!

Using washrooms is a bit tough at work as they aren't always in a close vicinity to where I'm working.

Do you think more women should be entering trades?

I think the trades sector is a great place for women to be. A limiting factor for me was the opportunity for discussion of trades in school; the information for women was very limited in high school and in society in general. It's getting more popular for sure, but I had to venture out on my own and find out everything. It was a leap into the unknown when I started my apprenticeship. There was one other female in my trades program and we are still friends. She is actually driving haul truck at the same mine. I feel I was generally well received by teachers and classmates.

Alysha2Alysha Buchy in the great outdoors, one of her favourite places to be when she's not working. (via Contributed)

What good things are you seeing in your industry in regard to more women entering traditionally male-dominated workplaces?

The good things I see for women in industry is we are becoming more recognized as a normal part of the workplace. I get asked why I took a trade and what got me interested in electrical. It's not perfect yet, but people are coming around and hopefully with more exposure of women in trades it can become more popular and be a normal career path for women.

Do you ever have difficulty finding work gear in small enough sizes?

My work clothes are steel-toed boots and coveralls. I have a very tough time finding boots for women that are capable of withstanding extreme conditions. And for coveralls, they are meant to be bigger and loose so you can work but they definitely are not tailored to women. So I am fighting them often. I am starting to see more clothes, PPE, and steel toes tailored for women.

What do you love to do outside of work? Future goals?

I love the outdoors! That's where I want to be! Whether it be camping, fly fishing, hunting or just cruising! Future goals are to get my Red Seal and get a permanent job within the coal mines because I love where I live and what I do so I don't want to leave. I would like to start a family in the future and get married. And continue to do all the things I do now.

Talking Trades is a regular KamloopsMatters column by Shannon Ainslie. Ainslie has worked in the trades for many years and loves to blog on the side. You can follow her at kamloopscoffeetalk.wordpress.com or on Twitter (@ainslie_shannon).




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