b'Gender Equality in Trades INTERVIEW WITH FEMALE ELECTRICIAN, GILLIAN OLOHAN A you. Some workers, even if they dont sayon to pursue trades and not be pigeon-holed Although Gillian Olohan was exposed to the electrical construction industry as a summerit to your face, are wondering why you areinto other conventional careers and be suc-student in 1996 with Guild Electricsin construction and simply dont want youcessful, she says. One thing where women Highways Division, she did not start herthere. That is why you have to show thathave an edge over men is in their ability to professional electrical career until after sheyou are willing to go the distance and notcommunicate. We also try to be ambassadors pursued her education and work experiencebe afraid to ask questions to help yourself.of the trade, because representation does in marketing, then in police foundations.Olohan admits that at times it was tough,matter. Working smarter, not harder, will It was a time when women, or even youngbut she stood her ground, and she believeshelp all electricians.people, were not encouraged to get into thethe old boys club is changingin fact,This being said, Olohan knows that she trades, she states. she had the good fortune of having manyneeds to become more active in her local excellent male allies.IBEW and get involved with groups that In 2004, Olohan did some career soulThe best and worst thing on the job ispromote women in the trades. One of the searching and felt her direction was to findbiggest challenges for female electricians a career that was well paid, had a fast trackthe guys you work with, Olohan says. and, at the end of her career, provided aSometimes, when you are at your wits endis retention, so once they make it into reliable pension. With the support of Georgeand feeling the pressure of the day, one ofthe trade, they stay. All workers, not just Docherty (Guild Electrics former operationsthe guys will give you a quick-witted jab thatwomen, need to know that they are free manager) and her family, she decided thatpushes you back on track. You have to keepfrom harassment and that they are safe and becoming an electrician, like her father, wasgoingdont let them beat you! supported at work.the path forward. In 2005, she went backOlohan strongly believes that the stigmaI would encourage anyone who has an to Guild Electric in their ICI Division asof not having women in the trades has tointerest in the trades to explore that interest, an electrical apprentice with IBEW 353change. The option of going into the tradesreach out to their local contractor or union (Toronto). In 2012, she got her covetedshould be promoted and offered at an earlyand ask for information, Olohan says. 309A licence, and in April 2018, obtainedstage, before high school, so young peopleWe have womens groups in place to offer her Master Electrician Licence. have options based not on their gender, butmentorship and support for women think-on their mechanical abilities and interests.ing about joining the trade and those already When asked if she faced challenges on theon their journey. I would say dont be afraid. job site as a woman, she says, Yes, as theI think women can be empowered toGive it your best shot. You may just surprise only woman on a job site, all eyes are onpursue non-traditional careers. We can goyourself.www.ecao.org10'