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“Life-Changing” Conference Introduces Building Trades to 400 Young Women from Massachusetts


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Over 400 young women from 18 different high schools participated in the first Massachusetts Girls in Trades Conference and Career Fair, held at the headquarters of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 103 in Dorchester.  The encouraging event was organized by the Massachusetts Girls in Trade Advisory Group, made up of professionals from education, labor, industry, and several unions.  45 educators and 50 presenters were also in attendance to help inform the young women of the opportunities available to them in the building trades and to speak to them about their personal experiences in the trades.

One of the overall goals of the conference was to build an atmosphere of community and empowerment for a generation of women to begin careers in construction.  Sharing her story with the 400 attendees was Assistant Superintendent Amenyonah Bossman of Suffolk Construction. She was a keynote speaker:

She described the career path she followed which took her from working with her stepfather as a teenager remodeling homes and eventually to the Wentworth Institute of Technology in Boston, where she earned a bachelor of science degree in Construction Management. Ms. Bossman went to night school, was an apprentice carpenter, and parlayed an internship with Suffolk Construction into a Project Coordinator position that led to her becoming an Assistant Superintendent with the company.

Ms. Bossman exhorted the girls to “do what you love to do most. That is how you succeed.”

Also speaking at the event was Massachusetts Building Trades Council President, Frank Callahan. He told the crowd:

“Too many women have been frozen out of the trades in the past.  You should feel comfortable in a union hall or at a job site. Massachusetts Girls in Trade shows that many young women are interested in rewarding, high-wage careers in the trades. The doors to the Massachusetts Building Trades Unions are wide open to them.”

The event was organized by a diverse group of parties that included Minuteman High School, Wynn Everett Casino, and Mass Training Directors Association President, John Healy.  Maryanne Ham, who is both one of the event’s main organizers and the supervisor of educator evaluations at Minuteman, said of the event: “This was a historic moment for career and technical education.”

Jennie Peterson, development manager of Wynn Everett, said Ms. Ham informed the school of the importance of programs like Massachusetts Girls in Trades to ensure a diverse workforce on future projects. According to Peterson, she and Ms. Ham “talked about the need to bring more women into the trades, specifically because Wynn has goals for hiring women.”

Parents will have the opportunity to follow up at the New England Carpenters Training Fund in Millbury on May 25.  This will allow those who may have discovered an interest in the trades in Dorchester to pursue it more fully. Midalia Ramos, a senior from Watertown in the electrical program at Minuteman High, called the event “truly rewarding, possibly even life-changing.”  She added:

“One of my most memorable moments was speaking to one of the tradeswomen at the IBEW Local 103 booth. She is now ten years into her career and was really inspiring. I’m hoping she will be able to mentor me because we really hit it off. For the first time in my life, I really want something, and that is to join the IBEW and be a part of Local 103.”


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