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Orientation to Trades and Technology Curriculum and Resource Book: A way in for women

 

Threaded throughout, are units to assist women to develop the additional skills to assist their success as they enter these career domains; where the needs to “Recognize, Adapt and Influence Workplace Culture, ” “Develop and Practice Assertive Skills”, “Deal Effectively with Harassment” and “Develop and Maintain Occupational Fitness” are still essential to effective career development for women in trades and technology fields.

Women and girls, even today, do not often see themselves as agents of technological change. But it is clear from the messages received from governments, UNESCO, groups like Women in Trades and Technology (WITT) and the Canadian Council of Women in Engineering, Science and Technology (CCWEST) that women need to expand their thinking about their career options into more technical areas. Increasing and interesting job opportunities and solid paychecks are found here.

 

The Orientation to Trades and Technology Curriculum Guide and Resource Book (OTT) was developed to assist people in general, and particularly women, to find a “way in” to technical careers, to prepare them for the rigors of their work, and enable them to make an informed career choice.

 

To “Develop Technological Literacy,” learners are asked to read handouts [from the Resources Section], and compare and contrast the approaches taken by two authors – Elaine Bernard (“Women Changing Technology Changing Women” in Surviving and Thriving: Women in Trades and Technology and Employment Equity) and Stanley A. Komacek (“The Technology Systems Approach” in the International Technology Education Association’s Integrating Technology, People and the Environment).

Can they identify the biases in each? What are the messages being communicated? In what way can they use the information provided? Learners must come prepared to represent their ideas in a class discussion. Simple directions for a learning exercise, with critical thinking and the development of presentation skills are embedded in the activity. It is when we examine the handouts that we learn what it means to have “With a Special Emphasis on the Needs of Women” in the title.

Learners are asked to “to develop and use audio/visual aids in a presentation to the class which represents the process and product of technology development” in a particular sector. They are expected to “highlight the occupations needed to come to an end product.”

They read and discuss “Women and Indigenous Technology;” “Feminist Science Teaching;” and ” Participatory Design by Non-Profit Groups,” from the Winter 1993 issues of Canadian Women’s Studies: “Women in Science and Technology: The Legacy of Margaret Benston,” answering the questions:

What do these articles say about the participation of women in the design and development of new technology?

What considerations must be addressed in the development and application of new technology?

Learners read about the technology design process, user-driven design concepts, develop a critical analysis, and are encouraged to see themselves as agents of change.

Anyone can learn a great deal from the multi-leveled learning activities found in this 350 page book – employability skills abound. They can develop a strong notion of the kinds of career opportunities existing in a wide variety of technical fields, and a sense of their own personal suitability for the work. For women exploring what their place might be in trades and technical work, seeing themselves in the readings, and actively engaging in thinking about and designing for their own community’s needs, provides a structured “way in”. A “way in” that draws out, supports and acknowledges their potential and contributions.

“Develop Self-Awareness to Improve Learning Potential” enables learners to explore their individual learning styles, identify and deal with behaviours/attitudes that can inhibit learning, and apply conflict resolution skills. They “Examine Labour Market Trends and the Impact of Technology on Opportunities in Trades, Technology and Operations (TTO) through research on the Internet;” or “Investigate the Environment Sector” – “Brainstorm a list of environmental activities in the leisure area which would require the development of technical skill sets… define the skills and knowledge required by the activities on their list.” Groups research (on the Internet and elsewhere) the Exxon Valdez environmental disaster from different perspectives, each presenting a piece of the whole to the class,” to determine “what is needed to avoid and respond effectively to an environmental disaster.”

 

Threaded throughout, are units to assist women to develop the additional skills to assist their success as they enter these career domains; where the needs to “Recognize, Adapt and Influence Workplace Culture, ” “Develop and Practice Assertive Skills”, “Deal Effectively with Harassment” and “Develop and Maintain Occupational Fitness” are still essential to effective career development for women in trades and technology fields.

Finally, in “Describe Expectations and Responsibilities of Employers and Employees” and other units in the Career Development Section, learners are prepared to be workers with a strong sense of their place and their hands-on technical skills, ready to make a career decision, and prepared to meet the challenges of career changes that will face them in their working lives.

The Orientation to Trades and Technology – A Curriculum Guide and Resource Book with a Special Emphasis on the Needs of Women was written by Marcia Braundy, with support and assistance from a provincial/national advisory committee which ensured its “national” character. It meets the National Standards set for Exploratory Courses in Trades and Technology for Women. These national standards were developed with representatives from the construction and automotive service sectors, tradeswomen, technologists and WITT instructors, under the auspices of a national Industrial Adjustment Service (IAS) agreement with WITT National Network and assisted by Southern Alberta Institute of Technology.

It is published by the Province of British Columbia Ministry of Advanced Education, Training and Technology with assistance from WITT National Network, and is available from Kootenay WITT, WITT National Network and the Open Learning Agency.

About the Writer

Marcia Braundy is a university-educated journeylevel union carpenter. Her company Journeywomen Ventures Ltd., started in 1983, has trained and qualified two women apprentices to journeylevel. They are both currently employed as carpenters/contractors. She is an employment equity consultant, and instructor of college courses for women in trades and technology. The Canadian Vocational Association commissioned her 1992 paper “Out of the Stream and Into the River”, highlighting Canadian issues for these courses.

She can be reached at mbraundy@interchg.ubc.ca.

Tiblets Araya

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