Gender and Career Choice

Written by Suzanne Senechal-Jandreau, Northern Region Workforce Specialist and Regional Manager 

Presque Isle Totally Trades fashion show 2017

Gender and My Career Path

As a young woman or young man, or even as a child, do you remember what kinds of jobs interested you? Where did your ideas about jobs and work come from?

I worked on a farm starting in the 6th grade until I finished high school. Yet, as I grew older, my thoughts about my career choice did connect more to gender and what I thought males did versus what females did for work. As a young woman, I did not consider careers connected to science, math, trades, or technology.  My father and other family members worked in construction, heavy equipment operation like that excavating equipment, and truck driving.  Even though many of my family members had trade based careers, working in a trade never occurred to me!

Exploring Career Options

Career exploration should be just that – exploratory. The sky should be the limit when we search for careers that interest us. We can feel constricted by barriers such as:

  • geography
  • access
  • exposure
  • gender

These feelings limit our thinking and prevent us from finding what may be not only our calling – but our passion.

Providing opportunities for students to investigate careers and encouraging them to let go of predisposed ideas about what men and women can and should do for work, can only lead to a more complete thought process when considering what education and training to seek out as they plan for their futures.

Changing Assumptions

New Ventures Maine, Career and Technical Education programs, educational institutions, and workforce development organizations are working hard to dispel myths about what men and women can do. In doing so, we hope to open young peoples’ thinking to include ALL careers, removing gender from the career decision-making process.

One way NVME is working on this is through our Totally Trades! conferences.  These conferences introduce young women to nontraditional careers in trade and technical fields. Through hands-on workshops, large group activities, and access to women working in nontraditional fields, students who attend Totally Trades! have an opportunity to explore careers without gender bias.

If you have a chance, check out a Totally Trades conference in your region – you won’t regret it! For more information about Totally Trades, visit totallytradesmaine.org.